Abstract vs Executive Summary

Also known as: abstract vs executive summary dilemma, executive summary versus abstract, summary vs abstract, abstract summary vs executive summary, abstract vs. executive summary dilemma, abstract vs executive summary battle.

"Give me a place to stand and a long enough lever, and I will move the Earth".
- Archimedes
In this page, you will find:

  1. the terms abstract vs executive summary defined;
  2. the main differences between abstract vs executive summary presented side-by-side;
  3. tips on how to write an executive summary revealed;
  4. top books discoursing about the place of the executive summary in writing persuasive business proposals referenced; and, finally
  5. some uncommon web resources recommended.

My 100% guaranty: Here are both the place and the lever allowing you to move your world. So, you won't leave this page without new ideas, enthusiasm, and eagerness to start writing your own executive summary.

Abstract vs Executive Summary, Definitions

Abstract Definition
An Abstract is an abbreviated summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose.

When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given scientific paper or patent application. (Wikipedia)

Executive Summary Definition
An Executive Summary is, basically, anything but a product presentation, and nothing but a persuasive sales pitch. Far more than an abstract merely presenting the rest of the document, it's your unique opportunity to convince the reader that your proposal provides the best value proposition: the best benefit at the lowest cost.

The more technical your proposal, the more critical the executive summary is likely to be, because, unlike the abstract, the executive summary forbids technicalities to instead concentrate on substantiating the benefits for the customer.

Common misspellings: excutive summary, exective summary, execitive summary, eccutive summary, managment summary, executive sumary, executive summry, or eecutive summary.

Abstract vs Executive Summary, Dilemma

This is the "executive summary vs abstract summary" battle. All so-called experts say that you should write the executive summary when the rest of your proposal is written. Because this part is called the summary of the whole document, logic dictates that you should write the document first in order to be able to summarize it.

You said Executive Summary, not Abstract

And that's exactly the pitfall to avoid when writing an executive summary for your proposal: the executive summary is not an abstract. We may even say, paradoxically, that the executive summary, unlike the abstract, is not a summary, it's your value proposition, your best, unique opportunity to sell your solution!

Abstract vs Executive Summary, Differences

These are the differences between Abstract vs Executive Summary:

  Abstract Executive Summary
Nature Abbreviated summary. Unique selling point (USP).
Audience Specialized (researchers), or mere readers. Managers, as decision makers.
Scope Informational, academic, administrative, and other general documents (thesis, articles, patents). Solicited or unsolicited sales proposals and bids (P&B).

Job résumés fit in this case!
Purpose Give information.
Ascertain the purpose of the whole document, give an overview or preview of its content.
Call for action.
Persuade reader to buy on the recommended solution addressing the problem.
Content Mainly technical:
  1. Present the problem and scope;
  2. Expose the used methodology;
  3. Report observations and results;
  4. Draw conclusions and recommendations.
Mainly managerial (The 4 rules of persuasion):
  1. State outcomes and benefits;
  2. Substantiate benefits with proofs of concept;
  3. Apply benefits to the reader's particular; context (win themes);
  4. Recommend a solution to address the problem.
Length Short.
Shorter than the executive summary.
Longer than the abstract.
Style Technical, static, and more academic. Managerial, dynamic, and more enthusiastic.
  Shhh...I'll tell you a secret. You'll never believe me. Since I have advised all my friends, relatives, and other acquaintances to write their rйsumй and, most importantly, their rйsumй cover letter like if it were an executive summary, this led, so far, in 93% of the cases to a phone call from the employer. Amazing!

As revealed by the side-by-side comparison above, the key difference between an abstract and an executive summary resides on their antipodal purpose, and consequently on the format used to achieve this goal.

Indeed, while the abstract aims at convincing the reader to go through the whole document in order to quash his thirst of information, the executive summary, at the opposite, aims at persuading the reader, who is supposed to be a decision maker, to take of forgo an action, whether usually buying a product, or approving another action.

How to Write an Executive Summary?

Having understood the differences between abstract vs executive summary, you now want to write your executive summary. To do so, read the discussion How to write an Executive Summary that will help you identify the needed information for laying down your value proposition through the use of win themes.

Abstract vs Executive Summary, Web Resources

  The Art of the Executive Summary
by Guy Kawasaki (You really have to know Guy Kawasaki and read his books).
  Noise and Elimination of the Nonessential
by Presentation Zen
  Bill Gates' Executive Speeches and Keynotes
by Bill Gates
  Informative Abstract vs Executive Summary
by The University of Western Ontario
  Collection of Articles on How to Write Abstracts vs Executive Summaries
by UK-Student.net

Abstract vs. Executive Summary: discover the main differences between abstract vs executive summary. Read tips on how to write an executive summary. References to top books discoursing about the place of the executive summary in writing persuasive business proposals. Web resources recommended...

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