How to Write a Business Proposal in APA Format

by Elaine Riot - Updated September 26, 2017
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APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used for the preparation of manuscripts in business, nursing and the social sciences. Although mainly used to write research papers, it can be called upon as a guide for almost any document. APA style establishes standards regarding the organization of content, writing style and reference citations. Writing a business proposal in APA style makes sense because its familiar structure helps the reader to follow the flow of words and easily find the info they seek.

Gather information to organize your thoughts and formulate the main selling points of your business proposal. Think of the main components: the idea itself, its benefits, implementation, timing, projected costs and possible pitfalls.

Find references that support your premise.

Outline your plan using APA Style sections: an abstract or summary of your business proposal, an introduction, the text of the plan with headings to highlight salient points, a reference list, tables and figures.

Format the business proposal in APA style. Insert the main section headings, including Abstract or Business Proposal Summary, Introduction, and headings for the body of the proposal, ending with the References (which should start on a separate page). This way, you've created a kind of template to facilitate the writing phase. The document should be double spaced on letter-size 20-pound paper, with 1-inch margins all around.

The title page should include the name of your business proposal and your contact information, all centered about one-third of the way down the page. Each page, including the title page, should have a running header with an abbreviated title followed by the page number, flush right in the upper right corner of each page (1/2 inch from the top).

Format references and citations according to APA style. An example of an APA style citation is:

Lname, Finitial. (year). Title article. Journal (italics) volume, pages. Retrieved date, source.

"Retrieved" refers to info that was garnered online.

APA style references should be listed in alphabetical order, by author's last name. The first line of each reference is flush left, with subsequent lines indented 1/2 inch. Like the rest of the proposal, they should be double spaced, with no extra space between entries.

Write your business proposal, following the guide you've prepared. The Abstract or Business Proposal Summary should be a concise description of your proposed plan of action. The one-paragraph Introduction should include supporting background information for your main point. They should both mention benefits specific to the company you are soliciting.

Proceed to the text of your business proposal, where you will include its potential benefits, implementation plan, possible obstacles or concerns, and projected costs. Include in text references that include the author and the year, for example, "Brown (1976) concluded that employees covered by health insurance plans were 25% more productive." Another example would be "Employees covered by health insurance are 25% more productive (Brown, 1976)." Include the detailed citations in the reference list.

About the Author

Elaine Riot has been writing professionally since 2001. Her work has been published online; in quarterly business, arts and education publications; and in B2B and consumer magazines. A natural wordsmith, Riot writes effective copy for a diverse clientele, including the University of Washington, Vulcan, Inc. and Amazon.com. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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