The most common question about the executive summary is: "What's the difference between the project summary and the executive summary?" The answer is simple. The project summary deals exclusively with project activities. The executive summary is a snapshot of all major aspects of the project. The executive summary includes information about the applicant, the problem, and finances—topics not covered in a project summary. In fact, a project summary is part of an executive summary, but only part, perhaps one quarter of the contents.
For most proposal writers, a summary is the most difficult part of a proposal to write. It often takes an uninvolved person to stand back and make the hard choices about the small amount of information that can go into a summary. The choice is not to make a summary longer. The choice is to leave out extraneous material, and that is the problem. The person who developed the project and wrote the proposal is often so emotionally involved with the work that it is impossible to make the hard choices about what to leave out. Everything seems important. Only an outsider can bring the dispassionate view that is necessary.
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