When writing a Deliverable for the European Commission I'm commanded to include an Executive Summary at the top of the document. This Executive Summary includes the main outcomes of the research done for the Deliverable, including what I've read from others research.

Of course anything I've learnt is formally referenced, and by style decision I have to employ APA style. Should I put the cites and references in the Executive Summary as well?


  • If by any reason the executive summary is separated from the real document, it is stated clearly that I don't pretend to pass any others insights as mine.


  • The Executive Summary occupies nearly one and a half pages more (APA!)
  • Extensive citing makes the reading slower, and more difficult if you're not used to read academic papers.

So I'm worried to make the Executive Summary unuseful by adding too much formalism. Any experiences on that?

1 Answer 1


My general answer would be: No. Summaries should summarize the work/report and anyone reading the summary will not need to go to references to check on sources since those are given in the report itself. I can see exceptions from this if one or two references are key to the report by for example, being ground-breaking or by being in conflict. Then it may be important to show from where the key aspects originate and to perhaps list the single r couple of references after the text. But, the persons reading the summary may not be familiar with referencing so make sure you know your intended audience and the style they are familiar with. It may still not be necessary to provide references but to reference the material by stating the author name(s) and the place of publication without reference details. Again, the report summarized in your Exec. Summary will have the details.

  • Thanks, I'll omit most references and use just the surname for a specific definition. Thus the reader is not deceived in any case and may easily find the actual reference.
    – malarres
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 15:57

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