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quick tip: move up your executive summary

Quick Tip: Move up your Executive Summary

We all know the proper page order for a white paper, right?

The proper page flow is clearly like this:

  • Page 1: The cover that attracts attention with a graphic and catchy title
  • Page 2: The Contents that show at-a-glance what’s inside
  • Page 3: The all-important Executive Summary that sums up the main ideas

I believe the Executive Summary is the most important page of any white paper. That single page saves busy prospects a ton of time. How?

  • Gives them all the key ideas in the paper
  • Helps them decide whether to read on, forward the paper to someone else, or move on to something else

But wait a minute!

If the Executive Summary is soooo important, why stick it on page 3? Why not promote it to page 2?

Whenever I move up the Executive Summary to page 2, I feel that flow suits any busy reader better:

  • Page 1: The cover that catches their eye
  • Page 2: The Executive Summary that gives the main ideas in brief
  • Page 3: The Table of Contents that shows the outline to explore further

I haven’t seen any data on this, but it feels right to me.

Why not “move it up” on your next white paper and see how it feels?

And if you gather some data on this, please share it with the rest of us.


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 300+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. And named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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