Use Graphics When You have Tight Page Limitations in your Grant Proposals

Typical government grant guidelines ask for plenty of information, often with tight page limits.  In the old days, many grant guidelines did not specify a maximum number of pages.  Today, this is the norm because government agencies do not want to review proposals that are verbose and full of marketing hype.

As Mike Parkinson of the 24 Hour Company points out, there are very sound reasons to use graphics in proposals with tight page limits because graphics will help you submit more competitive bids:

  • Graphics help evaluators get your main points.  Good graphics communicate faster than just text, they increase our understanding and recollection, and they can communicate complex relationships and concepts very quickly.
  • Graphics are more economical than words alone.  Clear, compelling, and informative graphics tell evaluators that you are thoughtful, thorough, and understand their mission.  They also subtly convey your nonprofit’s sense of professionalism and class.
  • Graphics can lower the perception of risk.  Good graphics can help you reflect your audience’s mission and needs.

Graphics are not better than text, and text is not better than graphics.  Graphics and text work best together when they are integrated and convey the same messages.  You should consider using graphics when you have tight page limits to (1) communicate complex concepts and relationships more succinctly and effectively than text alone; (2) ensure that the most important information stands out; and (3) convey a sense of your organization’s professionalism and commitment to the contract.

To develop “lean” but effective graphics when you have tight page limits, follow these rules:

  • Exclude wordy descriptions.
  • Exclude extraneous imagery.
  • Remove unused white space.
  • Use only widely known acronyms.
  • Use a sans serif, narrow font like Ariel for graphics text.
  • Use single-line spacing.

For examples of good, economical graphics, visit Parkinson’s entertaining and informative

Text-based proposals are difficult to read and understand, no matter how well they may be written.  Use graphics, especially in guidelines with tight page limits, and you will create more persuasive grant proposals.






Leave a Reply