Claudia Eggers December 16, 2021 Proposal
Write conversationally. Brief but complete should be your goal. Even if your subject is highly technical, imagine that the person to whom you are writing is sitting across the table from you as you write and you are speaking directly to him or her. We are all a little more careful-more formal-when we write than when we speak, but it serves no good purpose to use flowery language and unnecessarily obscure or pretentious terminology. If there is any doubt whatsoever in your mind that a word or phrase might be misunderstood or foreign to your audience, define it. Those persons who are already familiar with the term will not be offended. Write in complete sentences as much as possible, even when listing numbered or bulleted points.
As you lay out your plan, try to keep in mind a couple of questions that your audience may not ask but will certainly be thinking: "What can we expect as a minimum outcome of your work?" and "What steps will you follow, and how will we know you (and we) are on target?"
Summarize up front. Begin your proposal with an executive summary, preferably one that is no more than one page in length. Obviously, it is much easier to write the summary after the proposal is complete; doing so at the outset generally means extra work making revisions later on. In all likelihood your direction will change somewhat as you construct the document`s various parts.
The rest of the story. Graphs, charts, line drawings, time lines, and other illustrations help convey information quickly and logically. Include them in your proposal in ways you think they would best clarify and complement the text, being careful not to separate them physically from the material to which they relate. That is, do not place illustrative items in the appendix because that encourages flipping pages back and forth as you are trying to present your case.
Cover letter. Because it tells your understanding of the project and states that you are the right person, department, or company to do the job, the cover letter is the most important element of the proposal; it is also the very last item to prepare before you make your presentation. Keep it short, no more than one page. State the problem in a sentence or two and tell what you intend to do about it. Do not forget to express your appreciation for the opportunity to submit your proposal.
Keep it simple. Use good quality paper stock-something with a high rag content has the best feel-and avoid colored papers. Rather than highlight, they tend to distract. Stick to eight point five x eleven size and fold flow charts, schematics, organizational charts, graphs, and other illustrations within the proposal itself. Larger sheets are difficult to file and quickly become dog-eared, a tattered appearance that will make your entire proposal look bad. If you are using large plans and drawings, list them as coded illustrations within the text of your proposal and submit them as separate exhibits.
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