Chapter 57. PROFESSIONAL PROPOSAL
Writing a Professional Proposal
This introductory page offers a simple, brief summary. For more, go to "Basics" and
to "Sample Papers" by
students. If you understand this type of paper already or want to explore it in
more depth, you might prefer to read "Advanced
Methods." All five web pages of this chapter are listed in the
right-hand column--simply click on the page you want to see.
proposal is a professional
paper that proposals a new activity or product. It is not a simple report
that describes the activity, nor is it just a report summarizing what is
wrong. Rather, a proposal describes (1) a problem or need (known or
unknown), (2) the best way in which it may be solved or satisfied, and (3)
specific details--a clear road map--of how to do so.
Examples of proposals abound: in the government sector, for example, where
everything new must be documented, especially when money is involved, almost all
new activities, new groups, new purchases, etc. must be accounted for by
proposals that explain why they are needed. Most large arts organizations
also depend largely or exclusively on the grant proposals they must write and
rewrite every few years. Educational initiatives and endeavors also often
are run on grants gained from proposals. In smaller measures, proposals
are the day-to-day lifeblood of some businesses and professional organizations:
when a new work project or product is made, a new brochure or speech is
produced, or a new branch is opened, often the details and need for it first
were developed in a proposal.
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Writer's Goal or Assignment
In professional work, businesses and people must
make changes and try new methods. However, these changes cannot or should not
happen without guided direction. For this reason, someone or some group must
make a description of the need or background necessitating the change, and a
description of how to go about making the change. Such a description is called a
Propose something new--a real or imaginary
project--that should be adopted by the audience. The audience for this proposal
is a real or imaginary business, committee, or company head who has the power to
accept the proposal.
Discuss (1) the need or background in the
business, (2) your solution to the need, (3) the plan, schedule, or budget for
solving the need, and (4) the expected outcome or results. Develop these parts
with at least three body divisions of at least two paragraphs each. Also,
include your credentials somewhere, either in a final short section or in the
The proposal also should have an introduction
and a conclusion that summarize, should be written in standard essay or business
letter form, and may include brief quotations.
If you are writing a paper requiring research, at
least one or two body sections should include quotations and/or paraphrases from
your sources. These quotations and/or paraphrases should support your own
points, should be substantial enough in quality and quantity to support
what you are saying, and should come from authoritative sources. Also
attach a bibliography appropriate to your field, discipline, or profession.
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Here is a typical structure or organization for a
professional proposal. More development of this structure is shown in the "Basics"
Organization of a Professional Proposal
Section 1: Problem, Need,
Section 2: Solution (Proposal)
Section 3: Plan (with Schedule, Budget,
Section 4: Results
(Your Credentials if Needed)
OF PURPOSE CONCLUDING IDEAS and/or
Bitson, A.J. Book. et al.
Jones, D. L. "Chart," et al.
Smith, M. S. "Diagram," et al.
Zamura, R.F. "Personal Interview," et al.
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A "focus" in writing helps you at any given moment
to concentrate on writing. Here are several helpful, important focuses
people use to develop a professional proposal.
If helpful, brainstorm a list of
subjects, problems, or needs. If you already have a single subject and
problem, try brainstorming a list of possible solutions. Choose one
carefully. Will your choice stand up to rigorous inspection by others?
Do you have enough details or examples to support what you are saying, or
can you find them easily? Can you write about your subject fully and
logically? What is the specific method of problem solving you
propose? Will your audience find your problem and solution appropriate
& SECOND DRAFTS:
Start with one or two methods that work best for you, but develop the
others in later drafts.
Free-write: write as much as you
can quickly on what you know or have collected about your subject or
Gather details: write descriptions
or a list of the proofs you have for your materials--facts in the form
of charts, lists, or diagrams; as quotations,
and/or from reports of people's experiences that can be validated
Write for your audience: visualize
it. What facts and/or ideas is it willing to consider, in what
style or tone, and with what kind of organizational presentation?
Organize: make an outline using the
above or whatever structure your instructor suggests.
if required, mix
your paper with the above methods to develop a first draft before, during,
or after your
research. Be sure to use proper citation and documentation for every
source, even for charts and diagrams, illustrations/images, and
TONE, and WRITER'S ROLE: Develop (in early or late drafts) a
professional style and tone of efficient, interested, reasoned, fair logic.
In your role as a writer, you should sound business like and positive, and
present potential or real problems constructively, discussing how they will
AUTHENTICITY: Be honest and provide as
much full disclosure as possible about potential problems and needs;
however, do not over-emphasize them nor discuss typical problems that are
easily resolved. It may be useful, even good, to mention at
least one or two minor difficulties and how they are resolved; this is
authentic in that it allows your readers to see that you have considered
problems rather than avoided them.
Otherwise, present your material
with the clear intent to inform fully, realistically, and logically.
Consider your audience's needs and interests in order to serve them
properly. In addition, if possible, develop an interest in the
project (if you have not already done so), such that it is a meaningful
event in the company to you, even as you maintain a
professional attitude about it.
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