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What are some Tips for Better Proposal Formatting?

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Baskar Sundaram

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Given below are some tips on formatting your proposal. They help you take advantage of proposal formatting to win your proposals. By keeping these following tips in mind you can easily format your proposal and gain an advantage over the competition.

Use Headings

Instead of just a normal heading, use a short, descriptive heading plus a theme statement. The theme statement should be the conclusion that you want the customer to reach after reading the section. If you include the themes in your Table of Contents, you will gain the added advantage of having a Table of Contents that tells your story. 

Easier to Evaluate

Where ever you can, put the text of the RFP you are responding to into your proposal. An easy way to do this is to drop in a single-cell table and give it a gray background. Put the RFP text in it at a smaller point size than the narrative text. You can also group multiple RFP requirements in a single table and respond to them collectively.

How you allocate and respond to the RFP requirements depends on the particular RFP. If you cannot include the full text of the RFP, then include paragraph numbers and keywords so the customer can easily look it up. Do what makes the most sense and will be the easiest for the customer to evaluate. 

Keep It Short

Nobody wants to read more in a proposal than they have to. Keep your writing style short to the point of being terse. Say what you need to say and then end it.

The issue is not whether your proposal is long enough, it is whether you have answered all of the questions that the customer is going to have. You need to do that, but you do not need it to be one page longer than is necessary to do it. If you have said anything that does not impact the evaluation, delete it. If you have unsubstantiated claims, either delete them or substantiate them. 


If you must provide supporting documentation, put it in an appendix.  Take everything that is not part of your story and put it in an appendix. That way, those who want to read will have all the content they desire, and those who do not want to read will be more likely to get through your story before they start skipping pages. 

Using your Website

Anything that could go into an appendix could go on your website instead. Just give them the links. Any proposal that includes a software component should include a link to a demo on your website. A website gives you the opportunity to exchange information in ways that cannot be done with a paper brochure or PowerPoint presentation. Take advantage of it. 

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