Letter of Transmittal, Executive Summary

Letter of Transmittal

A letter of transmittal introduces your formal report to the company or person who requested the report. Letters of transmittal are usually brief, often with three paragraphs, each one devoted to a specific purpose: review the purpose of the report, offer a brief overview of main ideas in the report, and offer to provide fuller information as needed, along with a “thank you” and  contact information. Note that the overview of main ideas is intentionally brief; it should not be a cut-and-paste from the information in the executive summary or in the body of the report, which are longer documents.

A letter of transmittal should be formatted as a standard business letter. Make sure to consciously consider your tone and role in a letter of transmittal, as these letters are often written to persons higher in an organization, or persons with decision-making responsibility.  The letter of transmittal should be included before the actual report, before the cover page, and should be a separate page (not stapled or bound to the report), since it is a personal letter to the person or organization who requested the report. As appropriate, you may write a memo of transmittal instead of a letter, if your report is intended to stay within your organization.  The same content characteristics and placement apply.

Sample Letter of Transmittal


Environmental Building Associates, Inc.
44 Solar Way
Austin, TX 78705


June 25, 20XX

Dr. David McMurrey, Chairman
Energy Experts of Austin
2000 W 29th Street
Austin, TX 78705

Dear Dr. McMurrey:

Attached is the report you requested, entitled Energy-Efficient Guide: Employing Energy-Efficient Building Strategies in a Residential Home.

This report is an analysis of a recent study conducted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the effectiveness of employing energy-efficient building strategies to minimize energy consumption and costs in a residential home. Using software technologies, the home was modeled to create two scenarios: an energy-efficient home and a standard home. This report details how the study found the energy-efficient home to be both cost efficient and effective at decreasing energy consumption. Such advances might prove to be the catalyst that the housing market needs to spur builders into a new era of home construction.

Thorson James, our solar engineer, carefully double-checked all the technical details in the report. Cherie Sorenson, our technical editor, was of great help in putting the final report together.

I hope this report meets your needs, generates future studies, and educates the public about the environmentally friendly options available in home building today. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at GLMiller@EBA.com.


Sincerely yours,

Gwen Miller

Gwen L Miller, Vice-President
Environmental Building Associates, Inc.


Encl. Energy-Efficient Guide: Employing Energy-Efficient Building Strategies in a Residential Home


Executive Summary

Executive summaries condense all of the report’s main points of discussion into a brief paragraph or two (no more than a page in length for very long reports, and often shorter, usually 1-2 paragraphs for most reports). Your reader should be able to understand the report’s overall content and conclusions—the main ideas of the report—by reading its executive summary. Report readers, who often are busy executives, may or may not have time to read through the complete report from beginning to end, so an executive summary ensures as much as possible that the report’s main ideas and information will be read.

An executive summary is part of a formal report’s front matter.  It is a stand-alone document, which means that your reader should be able to make a decision based solely on the information in the executive summary.  As such, it should be labeled clearly with the title, Executive Summary. An executive summary is usually is located at the end of the front matter, as a transition into the main report. Remember the usual sequence of front matter: letter of transmittal, cover/title page of the report, table of contents/figures, executive summary.

What Works – and Doesn’t Work – for an Executive Summary

What Works What Doesn’t Work
Re-statement of main ideas in language that’s different from the report. Pasting in sentences that are already in the report’s body.
Focus on main ideas. Specifics and examples from the report, including quotations that provide detailed research.
Brevity, since this is a summary. A summary that’s too long and goes into too much of the report’s information.

Process for Writing an Executive Summary

  1. Write the actual report first.
  2. Review the report and annotate each section. That is, jot down the main points in each section as a way of gathering information for the executive summary. Review your notes to make sure that you captured each section’s main ideas.
  3. Draft the summary.  Note that an executive summary usually follows the order of ideas in the actual report (in general, moving from purpose → procedures → results → conclusions & recommendations).
  4. Set the summary draft aside for a while.  Then return to it for a “fresh” reading. Review the draft in terms of your situational analysis for the report. Review the type of information, making sure that you’re confining your information to main and not details. Review the comprehensiveness of information, making sure that your summary includes all of the report’s main ideas. Review the order of information, making sure that your summary follows the order you established in the report or, if not, that you have a conscious, logical reason for changing the order.
  5. Finalize the draft as you revise for tone, grammar, sentence structure, and other language items.

An executive summary can “make or break” a report. Many readers draw conclusions about the value of the report based on the executive summary, and then read the report more fully only if they feel that a closer reading is warranted. So make sure to treat the executive summary as one of the most important parts of the formal report.

The following video reviews the content and process of creating executive summaries.

For general information on the competency of summary writing, read the page on Summarizing in a free, online, College Writing text.  The page includes activities to test your summary-writing skills.