Writing Dos and Don’ts

Avoid the Speedbumps

Sub-standard proposal writing is a speed bump to evaluators and customers. Yes, small mistakes get noticed; and yes, small mistakes matter when it comes to proposal evaluation.

Proposal writing is different from general business or technical writing. It includes elements of compliance and persuasion that aren’t always part of basic writing. Too much flare is a turnoff; too little technical information can mean being thrown out.

Here are some basic dos and don’ts to help you avoid speedbumps in your proposal writing:




Write for the evaluator
Think it’s “all about us”
Keep sentences less than 20 words where possible
Use run-on sentences that confuse the reader
Leverage technology for accuracy and completeness
Rely too much on technology to “fix” your spelling, grammar, or usage mistakes
Answer the requirement or question concisely
Dance around the response
Focus on the benefit to the customer
Write about a never-ending list of features
Use active voice for persuasion
Write using consistently passive voice
Apply emphasis techniques that guide the reader (lists, captions, headings)
Use never-ending paragraphs that lose meaning
Follow the instructions—submit your proposal exactly how the customer wants it
Deviate from what the customer asks for


Following these simple guidelines won’t guarantee a winning proposal. But, they will eliminate irritating speed bumps that cause the evaluator or customer to pause.

Learn more about proposal writing in our self-paced Proposal Writing course or our  Live, Online POWeRful Proposal Writing course