How to Reference an Executive Summary in APA Style

The "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association,” often referred to informally as the APA style guide or APA guide, lists and explains the rules required to write research papers and essays in a specific format. The APA manual does not, however, specifically outline the proper procedure for referencing an executive summary. The APA manual states that when citing a source not mentioned in the guide, you may format that source according to “the example that is most like your source.” In the case of an executive summary, it is appropriate to format the executive summary in the same format that you would a report from a private organization, since executive summaries are often part of these reports.

Step 1

Place the name of the organization or authors of the report or summary at the beginning of the reference, followed by a period. The author’s last name should be listed first, followed by the first and middle initials. When there is more than one author, APA style requires you to list the first six. Additional authors can be omitted and replaced by the phrase “et al.” If you were to reference this article in the style of a private organization report, the first line would appear as: Miley, M.

Step 2

List the date the report was published in parenthesis after the title, followed by a period. APA format requires that the date be written with the year first, followed by the month and then the day. Although you should include as much information as possible, it is acceptable to include only the year a report was written if no other date information is available.

Step 3

Add the title of the report to the reference in italics, again placing a period after the information. Report titles should be capitalized in the same manner as a book or magazine article, like this: “How to Reference as Executive Summary in AP Style.” If there is a document number on the summary or report include it after the title in parenthesis.

Step 4

Place the publishing information at the end of the reference. Because an executive summary is likely to be part of a report that was never formally published outside of the company who produced it, the company’s information is used as publishing information. Publishing information should include the company’s city and state, followed by a colon and then the word ‘Author.” This would appear for this article as "Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Author."

Step 5

Review your reference information for accuracy and for correct formatting. Each section of the reference should end with a period. A period should also follow each author’s initial. All periods should be outside of parenthesis and parenthesis should enclose the report’s publication date and any relevant document numbers included in the reference.


Remember that the first line of a reference should be flush with the left margin. Additional lines should be indented five spaces.

If the executive summary you referenced has its own authors and title separate from the rest of a report, use the information from the summary rather than the report in your reference information.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference information
Cite this Article