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What is a Proposal Template?

By Leah Y Y Bravo
Updated May 16, 2024
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A proposal template is a document that is designed to be a generic starting foundation for any proposal. The purpose of having a template is to reduce the amount of work a proposal writer spends on each individual proposal while also maintaining some basic standards for graphics, text, and layout. Other benefits to working with a template vs. starting from scratch include ensuring that common content sections are not forgotten by accident, allowing updates to statistics and content can be performed just once on the template, and the ability to design a template to allow for "find and replace" types of shortcuts.

A proposal template usually includes standardized sections that remain the same from document to document, sometimes called boilerplate language. For example, descriptions of a company’s services or office locations could be standardized. Proposals also usually include sections that must be customized for each circumstance, like fees or project time line sections. Using proposal templates can also provide the option of having the basic document reviewed by key legal, marketing, or management personnel so that there is a high confidence in the template’s content.

Templates are also tools that marketing and sales professionals may use to help make sure that the look and feel of the document adheres to company standards. Proposal templates help ensure that writing and graphics best practices are represented in every outgoing proposal document. They allow for a proposal to be generated by personnel who are not professional proposal writers, provided the content sections are clearly presented and simple to write, and the software used to produce proposals is wide accessible.

Proposal templates not only help reduce the amount of time spent in the writing and composition stage, but they can also help save time and resources during the review stage. As with any document, proposals should always be reviewed for grammar, writing style, compliance with corporate visual standards, and other requirements. Editors and reviewers need only spend time reviewing customized sections of a proposal if the document originates from a template that has already been reviewed and approved.

A proposal template can be used in lieu of proposal generation software, but it should undergo periodic revision in order to remain useful and up-to-date. For this reason, it is recommended that proposal templates have their own calendars for regular updates. It is also important when working with a proposal template to make sure that the revision process is clearly defined to help maintain its accuracy.

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Discussion Comments

By JaneAir — On Jul 25, 2011

@ceilingcat - You're right about templates being helpful. I've written a few articles for publication, and I was provided with a template for exactly how the company wanted the article formatted. It really helped keep me on track.

I think proposal templates are an especially cool idea though and a small company could really benefit for them. If you need a proposal written, but don't have enough money to hire a proposal writer, a template could be the answer. Provided you can find someone who has a decent command of grammar and mechanics, you wouldn't need to hire a proposal writer at all!

By ceilingcat — On Jul 24, 2011

I think templates are a really good idea for most kinds of writing. I remember when I was in high school and we were first learning to write research papers our teacher provided us with a kind of template.

We used it almost like an outline to think out our paper in advance. There were spaces for the thesis, for the topic sentences of each paragraph, and for our supporting research. It was really helpful and showed us exactly how the paper was supposed to be written.

I imagine a proposal template is equally as helpful. It's much easier to write something when you know what you're supposed to be writing and how it's supposed to look!

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