OK, we get why you use page limits. They make life easier for evaluators, and help to separate the sheep from the goats, procurement-wise. After all, those who are best at delivering a service or designing a product or building or software system are also best at explaining themselves succinctly, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. But if you’re going to use them, here’s the first tip on how to do them better.
When is a page not a page?
When the pieces that comprise it are not defined.
Here’s the deal. You don’t really want to limit pages: You want to limit content. To do that fairly across all bidders, you have to define what can go on a page. Here’s how you do that.
- Size of page – In North America, say it’s 8.5 x 11 inches. An 11 x 17 page (useful for big organization charts and designs and drawings) should also be defined – will you count it as 1 page or 2?
- Single-sided or double-sided – Me, I hate trying to read and evaluate double-sided text, but if you want to save paper (and can’t go with an entirely electronic submission), then state whether a page printed on both sides counts as 1 page or 2.
- Margins – Specify minimums for margins, including the header and footer.
- Font type – It’s not enough to state the font size. Fonts of the same nominal size differ widely in actual size: Think Arial versus Calibri, for just one example. Just specify the font you require.
- Font size – It’s not enough to state the font size for text. Specify a smaller one for tables and figures. Tables in overly large fonts are hard to read.
- Character spacing – Take a look at the Advanced options under Fonts in Word, and specify all those options.
- Line spacing – Specify the minimum, whether that’s single-spacing or some multiple.
- Paragraph spacing – Specify the minimum space before and after paragraphs.
And those are just the tricks that I know. Give your draft rules to a Word expert in your organization to see if they can think of anything else.
Complicated, eh? Well, yes. But at least you’ll get comparable bids. And if you’ve chosen wisely, you’ll also get bids that are easy on your eyes.