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The summary (sometimes referred to as the executive summary) provides a brief overview of the substance of the report; usually no more than half a page. It is not an introduction to the topic. The summary should outline all the key features of your report, including the topic, what you did and how you did it, and the main outcomes of your work. A busy manager who might not have time to read the full report should be able to get the gist of the whole report by reading the summary.

The summary:

  • states the topic of the report
  • outlines your approach to the task if applicable
  • gives the most important findings of your research or investigation, or the key aspects of your design
  • states the main outcomes or conclusions.

The summary does NOT:

  • provide general background information
  • explain why you are doing the research, investigation or design
  • refer to later diagrams or references.

Example summary

Click on the highlighted text to see the comments.

This summary is from a report entitled Preliminary Design of a Bridge.


This report presents a design for a bridge to be constructed on the Calder Freeway crossing Slaty Creek in the Shire of Macedon Ranges. Two designs for the bridge were devised and then compared by considering the cost, construction and maintenance of each bridge. Design 1 is a super-T beam bridge while Design 2 is a simple composite I girder bridge. It is concluded that Design 1 is the better design. This design is cheaper, easier to construct, more durable and easier to maintain.






Key features



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