Guidelines for Project Proposals

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Guidelines for Project Proposals*
A technical proposal, often called a "Statement of Work,” is a persuasive document. Its objectives are to 1. Identify what work is to be done 2. Explain why this work needs to be done 3. Persuade the reader that the proposers (you) are qualified for the work, have a plausible management plan and technical approach, and have the resources needed to complete the task within the stated time and cost constraints. What makes a good proposal? One attribute is appearance. A strong proposal has an attractive, professional, inviting appearance. In addition, the information should easy to access. A second attribute is substance. A strong proposal has a well-organized plan of attack. A strong proposal also has technical details because technical depth is needed to sell your project. Remember: A proposal is a persuasive document.

Required Format
Format consists of the layout and typography of a document. In formatting your proposal, use the guidelines in Table 1. A template to produce your proposal exists at the following web page: One aspect of layout is the incorporation of illustrations. In your proposal, each illustration should have a name and be formally introduced in the text. Illustrations consist of figures and tables. Figures include photographs, drawings, diagrams, and graphs. Each figure should have a stand-alone caption, and the key points and features should be labeled. Tables are arrangement of words and numbers into rows and columns. Use tables to summarize lists that the audience will try to find later (the budget, for instance).

Table 1. Format guidelines for requested proposal.
Aspect Font for headings Font for text portion Margins Layout Paragraphing Page number Figure names Figure captions Table names Table headings Description Boldface serif or sans serif: size in accordance with hierarchy 12-point serif such as Times New Roman or Book Antiqua Standard, at least 1 inch One column, single-sided Indented paragraphs, no line skip between paragraphs in a section Bottom centered Numbered: Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and so forth Below figure in 10 point type Numbered: Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and so forth Above table in 12 point type


Adapted from Guidelines at the Penn State Learning Factory:


As given in the proposal template, your proposal should have the following sections and headings:

Title Page
a. Title of project in initial capital letters b. The sponsoring company and contact person’s name and information c. Team name and individual member names d. Date e. An appropriate picture of the product, a team logo, or both

Executive Summary
Content: A brief summary of the proposal Length: one-third to one-half page, never more than one page Emphasis: highlighting of the proposed technical and management approach

Table of Contents Statement of Problem: the “Why?”
Summary of the request by the sponsor (the original problem statement) Background: Brief description of company and their business Relevance or importance of problem Background information to educate the reader Previous related work by others—literature review with credible sources Patent search, if applicable Detailed problem description, as you now understand it

Objectives: the “What?”
In the Objectives section, you translate the customer’s quantitative and qualitative needs into clear, objective design specifications. Define the scope of work and clearly state the project objectives, including the following: a. Design specifications in specific, quantitative terms. For example, “The plate must be rotated three times at a speed of between 1 and 3 rev/s” or “Control the temperature of a 1 liter non-insulated standard glass beaker of water to 37.5 ± 0.5oC for three hours without temperature deviation.” b. Critical design issues, constraints, limitations.

Technical Approach: the “How?”...
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