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How to Create Your Grant Application's Abstract or Executive Summary

3 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Constructing Your Grant Application

The abstract or executive summary is a brief, page-limited overview of what the grant reviewer will find in the full grant application. Brevity is important (this section should be no longer than one page unless the guidelines indicate the need for a two-page summary).

It’s recommended that you write (or assemble) your abstract or summary after you’ve written the entire grant application narrative because by then you should have all the wordy explanations out of your system. (Note: Federal applications often specify a word or line limit for abstracts.)

Always follow the funder’s guidelines regarding word or line limits and the structure of the abstract or executive summary.

If no specific structure is requested, you can create an abstract or executive summary by pulling the most significant sentences from each key writing section in the grant narrative and doing a quick cut-and-paste. Take key sentences from the following areas, and keep them in the same order in the abstract or executive summary as they appear in the narrative:

  • Proposed initiative: Here you enter the name of your project or program and the full name of the funding competition you’re applying to for grant consideration.

  • Introduction of target population: Copy and paste a sentence or two about who you’re planning to target and serve with grant monies.

  • Goals: Copy and paste your goals from the project design section of your proposal narrative.

  • Program measurements and performance targets (also known as objectives): Copy and paste your objectives and performance targets from the program design section of your proposal narrative.

  • Plan of action: Copy and paste the key activities that comprise the program’s implementation process.

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Illustration by Ryan Sneed

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