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Proposal Format

Ideas to improve your IT project proposal format and appearance

IT project proposals may have to follow a set format and layout as specified within your organisation. But if not, it is up to you. Your overriding consideration is whether the appearance meets the executive board’s expectations. So take into account the following ideas to improve your proposal format and appearance.

Legibility. Keep the proposal simple and make it easy to read.

Make information easy to find, include table of contents, lists of figures, cross references, navigation / tabs.

Number of pages. Unless stipulated, keep as brief as possible eg less than 10 pages - as a short proposal is much easier to read than a long one.

Use headings, sections, typefaces, fonts, margins, headers, footers and other formatting to achieve maximum impact.

Typeface – unless you have to use your company style, consider using one with a serif eg Times New Roman, which makes a document easier to read.

Font size – 10 -12 point.

Colours – use sensibly where possible, but keep to a restricted colour palette range or use your company colours.

Use graphs and charts to improve readability and enhance the proposal.

Layout – ensure plenty of white space on the page ie greater than 2.5 cm page margins plus 1 cm gutter if printing and binding the proposal.

Limit the column width to help readability.

Limit appendices for essential data only – the rest leave out.

Use word processor software to automatically calculate the readability statistics (and then amend the proposal accordingly, to improve readability) eg

  • Numbers of words, sentences, paragraphs
  • Average sentences per paragraph: aim for 2 to 3 depending upon column size and visual appearance
  • Average words per sentence: aim for 14 (some more, some less)
  • Average characters per word: aim for less than 5, but may be more if technical
  • Passive sentences: aim for less than 10%
  • Flesch reading ease: aim for more than 50%
  • Flesch-Kincaid grade level: aim for less than 10

Final proposal format edit, re-edit, spell check and polish. But don’t go over the top - keep it simple and professional.


For more IT project proposal information visit: Why change your present system?  / Project scope checklist / IT project proposal / Basic roi calculation / Return on investment calculator / Maximising project ROI / Project budget / Hidden costs of acquiring software / Project budget template / Proposal evaluation sheet / Software selection acronyms

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