Writing Across the Curriculum, NIU

Proposal Writing

Developed by Mark Waters


The purpose of any proposal is to persuade your audience (managers, professors) that your project or research should be approved/funded. To do this, you must convince them that your research is necessary. This is done in a few simple steps:

Proposal Structure

Adapted from Paul V. Anderson's Technical Writing: A Reader Centered Approach, Chicago: Harcourt Brace, 1991, p.626.

TopicReaders' Question Your Persuasive Point
IntroductionWhat is this communication about? Briefly, I propose to do the following.
ProblemWhy is the proposed project needed? The proposed action addresses a problem that is importantt to you.
ObjectivesWhat features will a solution to this problem need in order to be successful?A successful solution must achieve these objectives . . .
Discussion of productHow do you Propose to do those things?Here's what I plan to produce and how it will work effectively at achieving the objectives.
Method, Resources, Schedule, Qualifications, Management Are you going to be able to deliver what you describe here? Yes, because I have a good plan of action (method), the necessary resources (equipment, facilities, etc.), a workable schedule, the appropriate qualifications, and a sound management plan.
BudgetWhat will it cost?The cost is reasonable.
Recommendations, Conclusions -- Reiterate the feasibility proposed idea/product based on your criteria.


Due to the brief nature of many proposals, an abstract is generally used only in documents exceeding ten pages in length.


The headings provided under the "Topics" column can be used to organize a proposal. Task related headings are encouraged for the "Objectives" and "Discussion" sections. Also, the "Problem" and "Objectives" sections can be incorporated as subheadings under the general "Introduction" section.


Begin by briefly jotting answers to each "Readers' Question." Your responses may help form an outline and spark further ideas.