Center for Writers - Resources



Proposals are documents that are designed to persuade readers to act in some way -fund a project, purchase products or services, implement a program, and so on.

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).

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 Matter

Introduction Body
Project Proposal: (Includes Statement of the Problem, Proposed Solution(s), Program of Implementation, Conclusions/Recommendations)


Back Matter

Bibliography and/or Works Cited

Qualifications (of writer(s) and/or project implementers)

(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:


Analysis of the Situation Requiring a Proposal

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:


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.)


(Gives the background and states the purpose of the proposal):

Statement of the Problem:

Proposed Solutions:


Additional Information:                                                                                                     (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.)

Works Cited/References: