How do I Write a Professional Proposal?

Sheri Cyprus

Writing a professional proposal needn't be difficult if you keep several important considerations in mind. First, resist the urge to write to impress such as by using fancy language or technical jargon. Instead, use plain language that clearly explains what your readers want and need to know about your proposal. Second, remember to check the details, such as making sure there are no typos or errors of any kind in your proposal. Third, keep in mind that your objective in writing a professional proposal is to persuade your readers to give you work, so make sure you follow their directions in their Request for Proposal (RFP) and convince them that you and your company will provide exactly what they need.

The layout of a proposal should suit the specific industry.
The layout of a proposal should suit the specific industry.

Start your proposal writing by noting what your readers expect you to address in the proposal. Try seeing the proposal from their perspective since you’re trying to sell your ideas to them. How will you meet their needs? What benefits will they get by choosing your company to work for them over another company? What work have you done in the past that makes you and your ideas exactly the right fit for this bid proposal?

Writing a professional proposal will likely require creating multiple drafts.
Writing a professional proposal will likely require creating multiple drafts.

When you've answered questions such as these, make more notes so you have a rough, yet clear picture of what you'll be including in the RFP or other type of proposal such as one you initiated. Next, organize and expand on the information you will include in your professional proposal. If you're using a proposal template, decide how best to organize your content into its structure. Otherwise, you may want to view sample proposals from business books or from online searches to give you an idea of how to present your proposal information in a convincing way.

The design and layout of your professional proposal should suit your industry and company. The cover page should include your name and contact information plus an interesting graphic that will interest your readers in your idea. A one page executive summary that outlines the project's objectives and outcomes should usually follow the cover page. Many professional proposal writers recommend writing the executive summary last so that you'll be able to summarize your proposal persuasively and accurately.

Visual accompaniments to written proposals are a must in today's business world. However, keep them relevant to your professional proposal and make sure they promote it rather than detract from it. Supporting graphics can increase the persuasiveness of your text and keep it interesting. Consider including helpful graphs and charts with relevant statistical information. Your company name, logo, tagline and contact information should appear professionally in your proposal.

Professional writers understand how to write to answer questions they anticipate their readers will have. Read the first draft of your proposal through and make sure you've answered every question you can anticipate your audience having. Rethink your price bid and make it competitive, but don't go too low to get the job, as this will work against your own objective. A good page target for a professional proposal is ten pages, although some proposals run 15 pages or more. Proposals should be detailed and thorough, but if they are also concise, they can keep the reader riveted.

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Discussion Comments


@babalaas: Take a professional writing course.


@babalaas- You may want to consider adding a minor to your studies to teach you new skills related to your major. A minor in business administration, communications, or journalism may be helpful in teaching you how to write proposals. Expanding your skill set could also be very helpful in a competitive job market.


@babalaas- I would recommend taking a few business communications courses. I am a science major, and I have an associate in business. The business communications courses I took were very helpful in building my writing skills. I learned everything from writing business letters and memos to writing business plans and proposals. The format for professional communications is different from the formats for creative writing and research writing. Having the business background should come in especially handy should I ever go into consulting or try my hand at entrepreneurship.


I would like to learn how to write a proposal. I am a science major so most of the courses I take are related to the natural sciences and mathematics. I do not have much time to practice my writing skills, and beyond freshman English courses, I do not have much writing experience. What courses can I take to sharpen my writing skills? Writing skills will likely be just as important as scientific knowledge in my field.

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