Re: Proposals as simple, easy-to-understand documents...

Subject: Re: Proposals as simple, easy-to-understand documents...
From: "Morris, Margaret K" <Margaret -dot- Morris -at- jhuapl -dot- edu>
To: "'techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 11:44:51 -0400

> Karen Field asks if using simple, clear, clean prose violates any
> unwritten "laws of proposals". The answer is no. Good writing gives you a
> competitive advantage. <soapbox on>
I edit & manage production on proposals for complex scientific &
engineering projects (mostly for the government ). There are several the
"laws" for proposals, and bad writing generally violates them. I use
these laws (with a smile) to help the rocket scientists & space engineers I
work with see the difference between proposal writing and other kinds of
writing they do. (BTW, the laws aren't original; I heard them first in a
class I took several years ago from Hy Silver Associates.)

> * PROVE YOU CAN READ. Follow the directions. Ignore the details of
> the RFP, and you can expect to lose.
> * IF THE REVIEWER CAN'T FIND IT, IT'S NOT THERE. No matter if you put
> information in a "logical" place; if you put it somewhere besides where a
> busy reviewer expects it, you might as well throw it away.
> * DON'T IRRITATE THE REVIEWER. Make your proposal easy to read and
> score. Bad writing is *annoying*. Annoying potential customers is bad.
> * AVOID PUFFERY. Obvious "marketese" is a turnoff. Describe your
> solution and its advantages clearly, cleanly, and as simply as is
> consistent with accuracy. Promise only what you can deliver, make claims
> only with substance behind them, tell the truth, and describe advantages
> in relation it to the customer's specific needs.
Good writing alone, without a good technical solution, will not win a
contract. Bad writing alone, however, *can* cause you to lose a contract,
even if your solution is the best one. If all else is equal, the
well-written, clean, and attractive proposal wins. <soapbox off>

> Just my nickel. Hope that helps.
> Margaret
> Margaret Knox Morris, Technical Writer/Editor
> The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
> 11100 Johns Hopkins Road
> Laurel, Maryland 20723
> phone (240) 228-3239
> fax (240) 228-6189
> margaret -dot- morris -at- jhuapl -dot- edu

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