Is there a general structure for an executive summary

I think so:

• Executive summaries should usually begin with the bottom line. That three-page executive summary I just mentioned had the bottom line up front. In a way, the beginning was like a summary within a summary—a good way to begin. What if the bottom line doesn't make sense at the very beginning? Then I'd give the minimum background necessary to understand the bottom line first—followed immediately by the bottom line. Normally a sentence or two of background is enough.

• The middle part of the summary should be "skim-mable." That is, it should probably have headings and bullets. Key illustrations are also entirely appropriate.

• The end of the summary should explain the structure of the main report to the reader. Think of this as a blueprint of what's to follow.

Now let's look at an executive summary. This is the summary of a report to the head of a chain of shoe stores, urging a particular way for the stores to buy shoes.

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