Professional Proposals Using Word
by Manny Hondroulis
This column marks the end of our Microsoft Office series. I have described
how PowerPoint can be used to make sales presentations, showed how Excel
can make estimating a breeze, and discussed how Access can help track
your prospects and leads. The last component of Microsoft’s office suite
is Word—a word processing program that allows you to write a professional
Start with a blank Word document and just type away. I suggest using a
standard business letter format using Arial or Helvetica font for all
of your proposals. Your company name and tag line, if applicable and appropriate,
should be in the header. You can also include company contact information
(address, phone, fax, e-mail, and website) in either the header or footer.
Once you have the basics of your stationery done, you can begin customizing
your document for any given project.
Include the date at the top, along with the name (salutation, first name,
and last name), company, and company contact information of the recipient.
Provide a subject line, similar to what you would do in an e-mail, to
help the recipient know the purpose of the letter. Address the letter
by calling out the recipient using salutation followed by last name.
The opening paragraph should be devoted to introducing the purpose of
the letter. For example:
Dear Mr. Smith:
ABC Tinting proposes to furnish all labor, material, and equipment to
install Brand X Sun Control Window Film to the following glass surfaces
of 123 Main Street:
Now, here’s where we get fancy. The beautiful thing about Microsoft Office
is that its various components can be used in conjunction with one another,
meaning that you can copy cells from an Excel spreadsheet and paste them
into a Word document.
thing about Microsoft Office is that its various components can be used
in conjunction with one another, meaning that you can copy cells from
an Excel spreadsheet and past them into a Word document.”
In this case, to describe the glass surfaces
to which window film will be applied, start a quick Excel spreadsheet
and label cells A1, B1 and C1, “Quantity”, “Width” and “Height”, respectively.
Then describe the scope of work by entering the appropriate numbers into
columns A, B and C. Copy the cells and paste them into your Word document.
Then insert the terms and conditions of your proposal. I like to communicate
the duration of the proposal’s validity, the recommended film type, payment
terms, warranty information, customer requirements, total project price
and anything else you see fit.
Your closing remarks should express your appreciation for the opportunity
to submit the proposal and instructions on how the recipient can move
forward with the project. Finally, sign your name using a digital signature.
To create a digital signature, sign your name using a blue felt tip pen
on letter paper in landscape, not portrait, taking up almost
the entire eleven inches of the page. Scan the paper and save the image
as a JPEG. Copy the JPEG and insert it into your Word document.
After writing your document, proofread it for mistakes and then run the
spell checker – yes, Microsoft Word will tell you if you have misspelled
When using a word processor, remember to use one space between sentences.
The use of two spaces is for typewriters. If you want to increase the
likelihood that the reader won’t overlook an important point in your proposal,
place those words in a bold typeface.
Once the document is complete, save it, and then convert it to a PDF so
that the recipient can’t edit the document easily. If you don’t have the
full version of Adobe Acrobat, you can upload your Word document to a
free online PDF maker such as PDF Converter (www.freepdfconvert.com).
A typed document always looks more professional than one that is handwritten.
Consider using Microsoft Word when writing all of your proposals, especially
for projects large in scope.
Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager
for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions
are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.