How to Write a Proposal Summary

by Ben Taylor; Updated September 26, 2017
Type proposal summaries with a general audience in mind.

A proposal summary, sometimes called an executive summary, provides a concise overview of the proposal itself. Summaries are an important part of a proposal because they're usually the first part of the summary a supervisor or other authority reads. A person’s impression of the summary influences whether or not he decides to continue reading the proposal. If he stops reading, he most likely won’t approve the proposal. To write the most effective proposal summary, condense in plain language the most important aspects of the proposal, including the proposal’s objectives, methodology, anticipated outcomes, financial necessities and time constraints.

Step 1

Write the summary last. Though it's the first thing a reviewer reads, writing the summary last ensures familiarity with every aspect of the proposal, which allows you to be thorough when writing the summary. One goal of a summary is to persuade the reader to further consider the proposal, but it's also important to convince the reviewer that the solution is practical and appropriate, according to Georgia Perimeter College. Identify the most important aspects of the entire proposal, then think of ways to express them in writing so that anyone can understand them.

Step 2

Outline the most important proposal aspects that will be in the summary. Judge and prioritize these aspects based upon information that's unique to your proposal and the requirements of the authority to which the proposal is addressed. Start with bullet points for the introduction, conclusion and major points in the body. The body of the summary should include a unique paragraph or section for each part of your proposal narrative, such as a problem statement, objectives, methodology, evaluation and anticipated outcomes. If the proposal is submitted to a foundation, include the total cost of the project, the amount of time it will take and the amount of money requested, according to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Step 3

Enhance the outline with specific details from the body of the proposal. Focus on the details that make your project unique and enhance its appeal to the reviewers. Be clear, direct and nontechnical — predicting the reviewers’ background is difficult. Write no more than 750 words or one single-spaced page for the summary. Spend an equal amount of time on each section, and consider all sides of the issue at hand, but be sure to demonstrate how your approach is superior to others, according to Georgia Perimeter College.

Step 4

Document any research or other work on which the proposal summary depends. State the sources clearly and attribute them to the correct author. If the agency to which you're submitting the proposal asks for a specific format, be sure to adhere to it. After checking facts, proofread the summary and then the entire proposal. Giving the document two separate readings allows your mind to focus on one task at a time and decreases the likelihood of factual, spelling or grammatical errors. Place the summary at the beginning of the proposal and submit it to the appropriate agency.

About the Author

Ben Taylor has been writing since 2005 and has had work published by WEKU-FM and West Virginia Public Broadcasting both on air and online. Taylor holds a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Kentucky University and currently teaches composition and ESL there.

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