• Deb Yeagle

Proofread and Edit Your Proposal - #6 Proposal Development Process Improvement Lesson Learned


(6) Responses should be well written and edited.


Proposals that are poorly written and unedited will not be favorably evaluated and could result in not getting the contract award. In addition to inconsistent use or terms, tense, or tone, improperly structured sentences and paragraphs do not effectively convey your message. Sentences that are randomly strung together, with no paragraph structure or coherence, or sentences that are too long will distract the evaluators.


Ideally, proposals should be actively edited and proofread as they are being developed, but at least one edit before final submission is essential to ensuring delivery of a quality product. The following sentence and paragraph structure guidelines can be applied to both writing and active editing to develop clear and compelling proposals:

• Write each sentence with a single point in mind

• Use concrete and specific nouns and verbs that show what you mean

• No more than 35 words per sentence

- Split a long compound sentence into two simple sentences with a good transition phrase.

• Use present tense - future tense should be limited

• Use active voice – passive voice should be limited

- Passive voice implies we don’t know how something happens or who does it.

- Using words like could, might, should, can, etc. are either passive or conditional and should be avoided.

• Use short, coherent, logical paragraphs (2 - 5 Sentences)

- Single sentence paragraphs are to be avoided at all cost

• The four elements essential to good paragraph writing are unity, order, coherence, and completeness

- Unity: Every paragraph has one single, controlling idea

- Order: With a well-ordered paragraph, the reader follows along easily, grasps your meaning, and avoids confusion (reference the standard structure)

- Coherence: A paragraph is understandable if sentences within a paragraph connect to each other and work together as a whole

- Completeness: In a well-developed paragraph, all sentences clearly and sufficiently support the main idea, and the paragraph is complete

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