Formatting a Grant Proposal

Anyone who knows anything about grants knows the cardinal rule is to follow the funder’s directions in preparing and submitting the proposal. “But that’s not always a simple as it sounds,” said Barbara Floersch, Executive Director of The Grantsmanship Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. “Sometimes directions are confusing and sometimes they’re sparse, leaving lots of unanswered questions.”  What should you do, for example, if the funder provides no instructions for formatting the grant proposal?

If a funder does not provide formatting instructions, use the following directions. “This is a standard, straightforward approach and may seem like a no-brainer,” said Floersch, “but I’ve seen some amazingly bad formatting decisions. Stick with the basics.”

Single space the document and double space between paragraphs.

Use 1-inch margins all around. Don’t cramp the text to circumvent page limits. Edit.

Use a standard 12-point font, and once you choose a font, stick with it. A patchwork of different fonts is confusing and distracting.

Format for 8.5 by 11-inch paper. Even if you submit the proposal electronically, funders usually print them out. Sticking with the standard size of paper makes this easier.

Number all pages. You’d be surprised how many grantseekers don’t. Without page numbers, it’s difficult to review a proposal and discuss it with colleagues.

When submitting hard-copy proposals, print the pages on one side only and use black ink on white paper. Don’t staple or bind the proposal – use a clip at the upper left-hand corner.

Work to make the proposal document inviting. Funders have so many documents to review that anything cramped or hard to follow is at an immediate disadvantage. “Don’t get fancy or try to be cute,” advises Floersch. “Keep it clear, clean, and professional.” ©Copyright The Grantsmanship Center 2015. All rights reserved.