Difference Between Executive Summary and Introduction


Main Difference

The main difference between the terms executive summary and introduction lies in their purpose. The executive summary provides a brief and condensed version of the main text to make the readers enable to understand the full content of the main text and introduction explains the reason for which the text is about and why is it written.

Executive Summary vs. Introduction

An executive summary is a brief and concise summary of a long report or document. An introduction is an essential element of a text that is found at the beginning of it. The executive summary is meant for the busy executives and gives them an overview of the project or the report to help them comprehend it easily. The introduction catches the attention of the reader towards the topic or document and entices him to read the entire project by giving a glimpse of what is in store for him. The executive summary has some introduction in it too, but it covers all other major features of the book or document. The introduction has some background information about the book, thesis statement, its purpose, and an outline of the basic central issues. It may also define terms and technical concepts and outline the overall structure of the paper. The executive summary is a brief wording written at the beginning of a research thesis or article explaining the main ideas indicating the purpose of the document and conclusion. The introduction is a topic at the beginning of any article which helps readers discover the whole article revealing all of its aspects. It is an appetizer of what will come and serves and will be seen in the rest of the pages. The executive summary is more precise and sharper than the introduction. An introduction is much more creatives in a novel than in academic work. Executive Summary can be read as a separate document. An introduction cannot be read as a separate document.


Comparison Chart

Executive SummaryIntroduction
A brief and condensed version of the main textExplains the reason for which the text is about and why is it written
Relatively longerRelatively shorter
All important elements, recommendations, and conclusionsBackground information, thesis statement, aims, the definition of terms
Separate Document
Can beCannot be

What is Executive Summary?

The executive summary is the condensed form of a report, article, or document written at the main or start of it and presenting its most important aspects. It includes the problem or proposal, background information, brief analysis and the conclusion of any document. An executive summary saves time and makes the content able to read and understand easily for a reader who does not have much time to read the whole document. It is shorter than the main document but is as long as ten pages depending on the whole length of the main document. Executive summaries make the reader indicate the purpose of the document. It summarizes all the content of the document including the conclusions. It would not be wrong saying executive summary is just a miniature of the entire book. The main elements of the executive summary contain a series of paragraphs or bullet points that briefly present the other sections of the document. A business plan’s executive summary mostly end with a table showing the projected profit and loss statement in a summarized form. The major characteristics of an executive summary are:

  • is not more than 10% of the main document
  • include information that is already present in the main document
  • can exist separately from the main document
  • the language used in it must be appropriate for the target audience
  • include recommendations, justification, and conclusions

What is the Introduction?

The introduction is very common and one of the essential elements of a text found at the beginning of books, essays, reports, documents or other texts. As revealed by the name, the introduction introduces the topic to readers and explains what the document is going to be about. The introduction may vary according to the type of document. For example, the introduction in an essay and the introduction in a book are very different from each other. In the introduction of a report or a book, the writer tries to tell a bit of his background and then comes to the point by mentioning the present project and aims. An Introduction also contains an outline of the total body of the book or report. In the context of a business plan, the introduction discusses the business of the company and describe the products or services it offers. Introductions are intended to attract and stimulate the reader in general and appeal him to continue reading the document. They can be of historical, anecdotal, or scientific nature and even contain a fascinating quote. The major characteristics of an introduction are:

  • introduces the document and explains it in brief
  • written at first because it covers the most basic information
  • written in an engaging manner
  • clearly shows the writer’s aims and objectives

Key Differences

  1. Executive Summary gives a condensed version of the main document or article whereas the introduction introduces the document and briefly explains what the document is about.
  2. An executive Summary contains all the important elements of the main text including conclusions and recommendations while introductions contain a thesis statement, background information, aims, outline of central points, the definition of terms and structure of the text.
  3. One can easily understand the gist of a text by reading the executive summary conversely one cannot understand the whole content of a text by reading the introduction only.
  4. Executive Summary can be read as a separate document on the other hand introduction cannot be read as a separate document.
  5. The executive summary is more precise and sharper on the flip side introduction sets the scene about the document or the whole text.


The executive summary and introduction both are parts of a document with distinct characteristics that prepare the reader to continue reading the document further.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson