Creating an Executive Summary

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 25, 2021)

Word includes a special tool that creates automatic summaries of your documents for you. This tool is called AutoSummarize, appropriately enough. The summary can be any length you specify, and you can save it to a new document, add it to the beginning of your document, or simply highlighted it in place. This feature allows you to quickly create a starting point for an executive summary.

Notice that I said AutoSummarize creates a "starting point." This is because the summary is based on what Word can figure out about your document. This means that there are probably some finishing touches you need to manually put on the summary. As with most other computer-based tools, you should not rely completely on the AutoSummarize tool for your work.

To use the AutoSummarize feature, follow these steps:

  1. Load and display the document you want to summarize.
  2. Choose AutoSummarize from the Tools menu. Word performs an analysis of the document and displays the AutoSummarize dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoSummarize dialog box.

  4. In the Type of Summary area, specify which of the four summary types you want to create.
  5. In the Length of Summary area, indicate by using the Percent of Original drop-down list exactly how long you want the summary to be.
  6. Click on the OK button. Word creates the summary, as you directed.

If you chose to create a summary that simply highlights text in your document, then Word displays a small AutoSummarize dialog box on the screen. You can use this dialog box to adjust the percentage of the original document that Word should include in the highlighted summary. When you are done, you can click on the Close button.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1809) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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