Proposal Writing

Proposals require a special sort of writing. While great attention must be paid to the laying out of goals, the research process, and other components, proposal writers must also remember to craft a narrative–they are telling the story of their projects and describing why others should care about them, too.

Grant writing is persuasive writing. You are selling your idea, your project, yourself, your team, and your institution…and the funder needs to buy it!

Proposal Writing Tips

  • Grant language should always be clear and straightforward.
  • Clearly state your hypotheses, questions, objectives, and goals.
  • Strong narratives answer core questions clearly and succinctly. ​
  • Provide sufficient evidence of preliminary work.​
  • Situate your proposal within the context of the current field.
  • Don’t let jargon get in the way of context. Don’t make your language complex in an attempt to sound knowledgeable.
  • Describe how your idea is innovative and improves current practices.​
  • Make sure that your methods are appropriate and clearly explained.
  • Present a logical, unified, and cohesive story with your narrative, figures, experiments, budget, and supporting documents.
  • Write persuasively and confidently: Use factual terms, don’t justify, don’t reference failures or weaknesses.
  • Write to the reviewer and funder.
  • Writing style depends on the funder.
  • Balance selling and telling, depending on the funder.
  • Be compelling. Be believable.

Proposal Writing Resources

Recommended by the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP)

Provided by Federal Funding Agencies

Other Online Resources:

CSU Writing Resources

  • CSU Writes
    an on-campus resource for investigators that provides CSU faculty and graduate students with support as they write for publication, proposal submission, and/or degree completion
  • Writing@CSU
    writing guides and more
  • Graduate School
    includes grant mentoring plan templates for advisors