Make Your Grant Proposals Easy to Read

What could be more important in your proposal than its readability?  If reviewers cannot rapidly find the information that most interests them, your grant proposal is not likely to receive a high evaluation.

The reason is simple:  reviewers are busy people who are evaluating proposals in the midst of their day-to-day schedules.  No matter how conscientious they are, they will find ways to accomplish their task with the least amount of effort.  We would too in their circumstances.

Also, keep in mind that many reviewers may not be highly knowledgeable or technically proficient in the topic of the grant guidelines.  Consequently, if they encounter prose that is difficult to understand, they will not spend much time trying to figure it out.  Again, we would do the same in their circumstances.

I have one practical and easy-to-use recommendation for making your grant proposal prose more readable to reviewers.  You proposal should be written so that a 9th, 10th, or 11th grader can understand it.  This will ensure that reviewers can glide through your proposal without struggling.

You can use MS Word 2007 and 2010 to help you reach this readability level.  Take these simple steps:

  • Under the Review tab, click Spelling and Grammar.
  • Select Options in the lower left-hand corner.
  • Select Proofing in the left-hand column.
  • Under When Correcting Spelling and Grammar, check Show Readability Statistics.
  • Under the dropdown box Writing and Style, highlight Grammar and Style.

Once you have completed a draft of your proposal prose, look at the Readability Statistics box that will appear once the Spelling and Grammar check is completed.  The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level statistic indicates your document’s grade level from 1-12.  A score of 10 means that an average 10th-grader could understand your prose. 

If you use Readability Statistics, you will be better able to write readable grant prose.  Aim for grades 9 through 11.  The reviewers of your proposal will appreciate that!

 

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