Checklist for Executive Summaries

The following checklist identifies some of the common issues and concerns found in
executive summaries that can be improved upon. Please review the following items and
verify that you have revised your executive summary to address these concerns.
• Did you provide an appropriate greeting?
• Did you clearly state the question and provide a precise recommendation in the
first paragraph?
• Did you clearly and precisely provide accurate logic to support your
• Were you clear about stating any vital assumptions being made?
• Did you identify risks and how to mitigate these risks?
• Did you locate the issue and recommendation on a broader landscape?
• Did you avoid using BAD language?
o Did you eliminate language that blames?
▪ E.g., “You need to lead”, “You let your team fail”,
o Did you eliminate language that attacks identity?
▪ E.g., “A smart leader will”, “The best choice”, etc.
o Did you eliminate language that is directive?
▪ E.g., “You must”, “Do not”, “You should”, etc.
• Did you eliminate passive voice and insure sentences have explicit subjects?
o Did you replace “would” with “will”, “could” with “can”, etc.
o Did you eliminate “It is…”, “There are…”, “This is…”, etc.
• Are you consistent when you list multiple items?
o Did you convert First, Secondly, and Third to First, Second, and Third.
o Did you insure the lists of words have the same suffix (e.g., …ing).
• Is your word count 300 or less?
• Did you provide an appropriate salutation?

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