Writing a Proposal in English: How?

How writing a PROPOSAL should be approached.


You generally write a proposal when you need something that requires permission: you need to make a purchase for a company, you need funding, you are working for a company and wish to do a project or write a paper etc.. Therefore a proposal can be either formal or informal depending on whom you are addressing and what kind of company you are working for (a local school, an international firm.)…

In order to present your idea and ask for action to be taken on that idea, here is the format you must follow:

  • State the purpose of your proposal (keeping it concise). i.e.:  Subject: ……….
  • Give some background information so as to give better understanding of the problem you wish to solve. Give this paragraph a title. i.e.: Purpose:….. 
  • State your suggestions to solve that problem. Your solution is the purpose of the proposal. Give this paragraph a title. i.e.: Solving the problem of…. : I suggest that we….
  • Run through the costs that will be involved in this project / action. Give this paragraph a title. i.e.: A long-term solution to…: The costs incurred….
  • Write a conclusion stating the problem again, the proposed solution and overall costs, timeframe etc. Your conclusion must end on a positive note so as to encourage the reader to act on the proposal.

Useful Expressions for Writing a Proposal in English

Introduction sentences

This proposal is intended to present…

This proposal evaluates…

The aims of this proposal are…

Methods of collecting data

to collect, to gather, to identify, to generate to choose, to select, to recruit

Study methods used

X will be assessed, explored, evaluated, tested, treated, counted, compared, analysed, calculated, carried, checked, determined, explored, evaluated, measured

Planning choices

in order to, need(s) to be, for the purpose of, in the event that, if, for, it was determined, about

More verbs

to affect, to impact, to have an impact on, to facilite the implementation of, to help, to start, to extract, to take, to engage in the extraction of

Positive words

possible, feasible, obtainable, advantageous

Presenting the current situation

Many X have commented that…

There is a strong feeling among all concerned that…

Following a survey of X, it was found that

Making suggestions

It would be advantageous…

It is recommended that…
There should be…

Final recommendations

Unless the recommendations are taken seriously…

Implementation of the above ideas would result in…

If the above recommendations/suggestions are implemented….

Writing a Proposal: Template

Here is a more in-depth description of the content of the proposal:

Executive Summary: Some people consider this the most important part of the proposal because it is the reviewer’s first impression. Even though it appears first, write it last because it is a summary of the proposal. The executive summary is a concise description of the project covering objectives, need, methodology, and dissemination plans. It should identify the expected outcomes of the project. An executive summary should be less than 750 words and fit on one page.

Need: Well-documented description of the problem to be addressed and why it is important. Use support information, statistics and/or succinct statements to make your point. This section should describe the significance, timeliness, and importance of the project. Make a compelling case for it. Why should the sponsor give you funding?

Objectives: Indicate the expected outcomes of the project, preferably in measurable terms. This shows what you will do, for whom, by how much, and by when. When the project is completed, you will be able to evaluate it and determine whether the project succeeded or not in achieving its objectives. Identify short-term and long-term objectives.

Methods: The critical part of the proposal and is the longest part and worth the most points. It is a plan of action for how the objectives will be achieved. This section usually starts with a description of the overall approach, its relevance, effectiveness, and innovativeness. Then it gives details on methodology, the population being addressed, and how anticipated problems will be managed.

Evaluation: Describes the means by which the grantee and funding agency will know if the project has accomplished its objectives. It may also describe plans for collecting additional information to improve the project. What is the purpose of the evaluation, what data will be collected, how will it be analysed, and how will the results be reported?

Plans for disseminating products and findings to the sponsor and to the community at large can also be described in this section. How will the results of this programme be disseminated?

Qualifications: This section outlines the ability of the grantee to successfully complete the project. Show prior related experience, describe facilities, and equipment available. Importantly, list key personnel who will work on the project and include their resumes. Also mention any consultants who will work on the project, and give evidence (a letter, e- mail) that they have agreed to participate.

Timetable: Describe how long (days, months) specific tasks or components of the project will take. If possible, include a milestone chart in this section.

Budget: Show the annual and overall cost of the project. A detailed budget should be divided into categories such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, equipment, etc. Indirect costs should also be shown. Sub-categories should provide a line item detailed breakdown of the funds requested. This should be accompanied with a budget narrative to clarify and justify the figures. If matching funds are to be provided by the grantee, identify the amount and budget category.


Have any doubts or questions about writing a proposal? Please post them below! We look forward to hearing from you.

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