Exploring the Differences Between Abstract and Executive Summary

An abstract and executive summary difference are styles of writing that communicate what is essential in a written piece of work.

Both function to provide a shortened version of a study so that readers can obtain a sense of its entirety.

This comparison of an abstract and executive summary can help you understand their functions, similarities, and differences.

What Is an Abstract?

It is a brief synopsis of a study’s most relevant aspects and results. To keep readers interested, an abstract should be thorough and engaging.

The problem, the specific objective, and the project’s scope should all be described in the abstract.

Include an explicit explanation of the research methodology you employed. This section should detail the methods and techniques you used during your study’s testing phase. The findings, suggestions, and conclusion should be highlighted.

Although the abstract comes first in a research paper, it’s best to write it after you’ve completed the rest of the document.

The abstract should be between 150 and 300 words long, and serve as a synopsis of the entire piece. It should be easily understood by someone who hasn’t read the paper or any supporting materials.

What Is an Executive Summary?

An ES summarizes a longer report so the reader can get a sense of it without reading the whole paper.

An executive summary usually includes the following:

  • Summary of the key materials,
  • Brief introduction of the topic or proposition,
  • A brief analysis, and the most important findings.

Each section of the executive summary should be concise. Your listeners are busy people who want to get as much information about your business strategy as possible in as little time as feasible. You can make the executive summary longer than two pages if you have a lot of vital information.

Abstract and Executive Summary Difference

It’s important to note the distinction between an abstract and an executive summary.

pen on white lined paper selective focus photography
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

1. Differences in Purpose

An abstract is a brief synopsis of events to allow the reader to understand the paper’s main points. The ES should provide an in-depth overview of the paper and the findings.

An abstract is a section often seen at the beginning of a research article. When presenting research, you’ll need to write an abstract to give attendees a sense of the paper’s overall argument and structure.

The purpose of the abstract is to comprehend the paper. The purpose of the ES is to get people interested in the paper to read it.

2. Differences in Length

In terms of length, abstracts are usually three or four paragraphs, whereas an ES is usually 20-25 paragraphs long.

The abstract summarizes the significant points, whereas the ES provides an overview of the study and an introduction to its topics.

It’s very feasible that one company’s idea of an ES is vastly different from another’s. It all depends on the specifics of how that company operates.

3. Language Use

When writing an abstract, you can use technical language, but when writing an ES, you should use non-technical language. In the ES, the objective is to maintain ordinary usage. 

5. Paragraphs

Paragraphs in an ES should be brief and to the point. However, an abstract might consist of several short paragraphs. The inclusion of paragraph breaks in the abstract can help solidify your points. 

4. Conclusion

Conclusions in an ES are utilitarian. An ES is focused on explaining the dissertation’s methods, findings, and conclusions. 

A reader of an ES finds a conclusion at the end of the paper. In contrast, there is no final statement or conclusion in an abstract. 


Differences in content, purpose, length, language, paragraphs, and conclusion characterize an abstract and executive summary difference. These differences make a difference in the skills needed to write an abstract and executive summary. 

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

Writing Resume Summary Examples for an Account Executive

When applying for a job as an account executive, your resume summary is one of the most important parts of…

December 20, 2022

Writing Professional Summary Examples for Project Managers

Management of projects involves planning, organizing, and controlling resources. A professional summary for project management should capture all the essential…

December 20, 2022

Basic Guide to Writing Executive Summary for a Strategic Plan

A well-crafted executive summary for a strategic plan can be the difference between success and failure. When it comes to…

December 20, 2022

Effective Guide to Citations in an Executive Summary

Citations are essential to any formal document and should be included in executive summaries whenever possible. They lend authority and…

December 20, 2022

Writing the Best Summary for Executive Assistant Resume

A well-crafted resume summary is necessary to present yourself to the hiring manager in a compelling way. When applying for…

December 20, 2022

How to Write Effective Project Status Summaries

It’s important to get the team and stakeholders in the loop regarding developments or changes in an ongoing project. And…

December 20, 2022