A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR WRITING PROPOSALS
by Alice N. T. Reid, Instructor of English, Delaware Technical and Community College, Wilmington Campus
The general purpose of any proposal is to persuade the readers o do something, whether it is to persuade a potential customer to purchase goods and/or services, or to persuade your employer to fund a project or to implement a program that you would like to launch.
Any proposal offers a plan to fill a need, and your reader will evaluate your plan according to how well your written presentation answers questions about WHAT you are proposing, HOW you plan to do it, WHEN you plan to do it, and HOW MUCH it is going to cost.
To do this you must ascertain the level of knowledge that your audience possesses and take the positions of all your readers into account. You must also discern whether your readers will be members of your technical community, of your technical discourse community, or of both, and then use the appropriate materials and language to appeal to both. You might provide, for those outside of your specific area of expertise, an executive summary written in non-technical language, or you might include a glossary of terms that explains technical language use in the body of the proposal and/ or attach appendices that explain technical information in generally understood language.
The most basic composition of a proposal, as with any other written document, is simple; it needs a beginning (the Introduction), a middle (the Body of material to be presented) and an end (the Conclusion/Recommendation).
- The INTRODUCTION presents and summarizes the problem you intend to solve and your solution to that problem, including the benefits the reader/group will receive from the solution and the cost of that solution.
The BODY of the proposal should explain the complete details of the solution:
how the job will be done, broken into separate tasks;
what method will be used to do it, including the equipment, material, and personnel that would be required;
when the work will begin; and,
when the job will be completed.
It should also present a detailed cost breakdown for the entire job.
- The CONCLUSION should emphasize the benefits that the reader will realize from your solution to the problem and should urge the reader to action. It should be encouraging, confident and assertive in tone.
Proposals are informative and persuasive writing because they attempt to educate the reader and to convince that reader to do something. The goal of the writer is not only to persuade the reader to do what is being requested, but also to make the reader believe that the solution is practical and appropriate. In persuasive proposal writing, the case is built by the demonstration of logic in the approach taken in the solution. Facts must lead logically and inevitably tot the conclusion and solution presented.
Evidence should be given in descending order of importance, beginning with the most important evidence leading and the least important at the end. Any questions that the reader might pose should be anticipated and answered in a way that reflects the position of your proposal. It is important that the writer, also, considers all sides of the argument---providing other alternative solutions to the problem, but showing how the one chosen is superior to the others.
There are several formats to a proposal, but one that has the greatest flexibility and has achieved the widest acceptance is as follows:
Front MatterLetter of transmittal
Project Summary (approx. 200 word abstract)
Project Proposal: (Includes Statement of the Problem, Proposed Solution(s), Program of Implementation,
Bibliography and/or Works Cited
Qualifications (of writer(s) and/or project implementers)
Budget (Itemization of expenses in the implementation and
operation of the proposed plan, and detail of materials, facilities, equipment and personnel)
The following are a planning sheet and format for presentation of proposals generated for
ENG122 Technical Communications telecourse:
PLANNING SHEET FOR A PROPOSAL
Analysis of the Situation Requiring a Proposal:
(This should be based on the thesis of your research.)
- What is the subject of the proposal?
- For whom is this proposal intended?
- How do you intend the proposal to be used?
- What is the deadline date for the proposal and for tentative implementation of
the proposed solution?
Purpose of the Proposal:
Statement of the Problem:
Proposed Solution(s) or Plan(s), Including the Methods or Procedures:
Additional Information to be used in Explication of the Proposed Solutions:
(This includes: Costs, Personnel and their qualifications, Training, etc.)
Types and Subject Matter of Appendices to be Included in the Proposal:
Works Cited/References used in the Text of the Proposal:
Bibliography of Related Source Information:
FORMAT FOR THE PRESENTATION OF THE PROPOSAL
Abstract or Summary of the Proposal
(This is a condensed version of the longer work, and it summarizes and highlights the major points of
the report. It included: the subject, scope. purpose, methods, and obtained results of the study, as well
as any recommendations and conclusions made.)
Introduction: (Gives the background and states the purpose of the proposal)
Statement of the Problem
(i.e. Expense Statements, Cost Savings, Profit and Loss Projections,
Equipment, Materials and Personnel Needs, Completion Schedules, Efficiency
Studies, Writer's Qualifications, etc.)
Appendices:(Presentation of charts, graphs, illustrations, etc.)