If you propose a solution to a long-standing problem, chances are your manager will ask you to submit a formal proposal. Although the length varies depending on the information you need to cover, most formal proposals consist of certain major components similar to those of formal reports. These generally include the prefatory, body and supplementary parts. As the name indicates, the prefatory part of the proposal introduces the reader to the concept.

Title Details

The title fly is the first page of the proposal placed immediately after the cover page that carries nothing other than the title. Following this is the title page, which, in addition to the title, carries the names of the writer and the person who authorized the writer to submit the proposal, along with his designation, official address and contact details. This page also should bear the date of the proposal's submission.


Proposals authorized in writing should contain the authorization letter immediately following the title page. This is followed by the transmittal or cover letter written by the person writing the proposal. The cover letter needs to address the recipient and identify the proposal by its title. This formal letter generally gives information about the purpose of the document, without going into the details of what it covers or the conclusions at which the author has arrived. The writer can use the cover letter to acknowledge the help he received in preparing the proposal.

Table of Contents

The table of contents provides an outline of the structure of the proposal. It contains a comprehensive list of the headings within the document, along with the relevant page number next to each. It is vital to align these headings with sufficient gaps and leaders to give a clear display of information. If the proposal contains a significant number of figures, tables, graphs or other visual aids, they should be listed on a separate page as “List of Illustrations” immediately after the table of contents.

Executive Summary

This portion contains concise information about the contents that appear in the proposal. Following the outline provided in the table of contents, the executive summary introduces the topic, gives relevant data, and sums up the conclusions and recommendations of the person making the proposal. The purpose of this summary is to provide a bird’s eye view of the topic for quick perusal by busy executives. Although this appears before the main body of the proposal, it is easier to compose this portion last, after putting together the entire document.