Page and Document Design (Bite Size)

The overall design and layout of your proposal documents is critical not just for communicating your information, but also for making an impression on reviewers and evaluators.

There are many important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to document design.

For starters, documents must:

  • Follow instructions or guidelines from the customer, your company, and/or your writing outline
  • Be aesthetically appealing in an appropriate and professional way
  • Use design techniques to highlight specific text and information
  • Be produced efficiently using the tools and resources available

Here are some tips on the proposal page and document design:

Understand The Desktop Publisher’s Role

A desktop publisher’s primary role includes creating and implementing a document template that is compliant with instructions and applied consistently overall pages or files of proposal submission.

A desktop publisher may also be required to insert, label, and number graphics within a document, a list of figures and tables; and coordinate with editors, writers, and graphic designers to ensure a consistent style. The desktop publisher may also interface with any physical production, including printing and creation of electronic files.

Choose The Right Tools

Desktop publishers should be familiar with the document formatting tools that are most relevant in their industry and keep updated on new versions and new features of the software.

Create A Document Template To Ensure Compliance And Consistency

A document template can be created using the same software and same version.
A document template must first be compliant. It must follow all customer guidelines as provided and any corporate branding or style guidelines, as relevant. In lieu of any specific requirements, refer to corporate branding or style guidelines. If none exist, reflect the standards seen most commonly in your industry.

Second, a document must be consistent. Consistency not only ensures information is presented in a way that reflects stated requirements but also communicates your company’s level of professionalism. To achieve consistency and compliance, create a document template and provide it to all team members early in the proposal process.

Schedule Effectively Using Metrics

Clearly schedule desktop publishing resources to ensure sufficient time to produce professional proposal or bid documents.

Documents may be formatted in parallel to writing/editing as long as they are separated by section or volume in a logical manner that does not impede progress or version/configuration control. This parallel system is ideal for large submissions. For smaller documents, formatting may be done in a serial fashion after all writing/editing is complete.

Prepare For Production

The desktop publisher may be required to create print-ready documents for physical production and/or create final files for various methods of electronic delivery. The most common format for printing and for electronic delivery, outside of specific desktop publishing software formats (such as .doc or .docx format) is a portable document format (PDF) file.

It uses the same coding language, PostScript, that all printers use and also “locks” or renders text, graphics, tables, and other elements unable to be changed easily, so that others cannot manipulate your information.

Use Graphic Elements To Create Emphasis And Guide Readers

Beyond being consistent and compliant, proposals should be easy to understand and evaluate. Whether reviewing online or in a print format, all evaluators for languages use top-down reading or viewing which is interrupted by items that contrast with the rest of the page, including items that are colourful, are graphic or visual, or are otherwise unusual to the layout.These interruptions draw attention to specific information and can be used to highlight points that readers might otherwise miss.

Updated July 2022

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