Better RFP Responses & Management
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Style guides: Every proposal editor loves them, every proposal writer ignores them.

So. What to do?

Pick a few things you want the writers to do, or not to do, and give away the rest. “What are the few?” you ask. These are the first four that I ask for:

  • Active voice not passive
  • Future tense not present
  • First person not third
  • Benefits at the front, not at the end

But I’ve learned not to ask writers the same way I might ask another editor. Now I ask writers like this . . .



  1. Jim Taylor

    Whatever your style guide, it’s worth investing enough money to make sure that all the editing/writing team has a copy: CP Style, Globe & Mail Style book, AMA style… But the Chicago Manual of Style is so massive — n expensive — that it tends to deter writers rather than encourage them.

    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – I looked at one of those formal style guides once (Chicago, maybe) when I was considering doing editing for a publisher or some organization that used it and they *are* overwhelming. I’ve never seen one (of any brand) used on a proposal. Ours reflect the RFP, because we’re trying to give the client a style they’ll be comfortable with, plus some things we can do consistently, often just to save space. But the principle you cite applies for sure: If there is more than one editor, everyone edits to the same list of standards.

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