Sophie Moench August 21, 2021 Proposal
The problem and the plan. The primary section of the proposal describes the problem or project as you see it. That bears repeating: State your understanding of the need and circumstances that prompted your submitting the proposal. Explain the rationale for action. That is, tell your audience what their problem is and why they need your expertise and assistance. Do not assume they know. Define the scope of the undertaking and the solutions and goals you intend to achieve, describing each in terms of discrete objectives.
The importance of packaging. Contrary to what we might like to believe, people do buy books by their covers. Neatness and eye appeal count. A proposal that is hard to handle or is not professional in appearance detracts from the presenter, his or her firm or department, and the overall plan. A few extra hours spent on making the written proposal look good can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Laser print your document using an easy-to-read typeface. Serif type is much more readable than sans serif. Ten-point is probably a large enough type size unless you know that one or more reviewers has difficulty reading small print-then go up to 11- or 12-point. Do not justify (align) the right-hand margin of your text. True, it looks neater, but it is much harder to read, especially if your printer leaves gaping spaces between words.
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.
It is to your distinct advantage to follow all the instructions that are available, especially if you must submit your proposal by mail and will not have the opportunity to make a personal presentation. Standard form RFPs enable reviewers to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If a reader must hunt through your document in order to find a critical point, he or she may instead prefer to toss the document aside. After all, the reviewer may think, if this person ca not even follow our directions, how can we expect a satisfactory outcome from the project?
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.