Using the Principles of Good Informational Design

Proposal design is important!   The way your proposal looks and reads greatly affects the reviewers’ ability to gather and process information.  Good information design serves a very important purpose – it enables reviewers to quickly find and understand the information that interests them.

Use the principles of good information design below to develop your proposal.  They will make your proposal clearer, more interesting, and more compelling.

Principle #1:  Create Interest

  • Use left justification only.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Use bulleted and number lists and graphics.
  • Use tables.
  • Use informative headings that stand out.
  • Use visuals.
  • Caption visuals with action captions.

Principle #2:  Meet Expectations

  • Organize your proposal to reflect the grant requirements.
  • Use the vocabulary of the grant guidelines to label sections and headings.

Principle #3:  Reveal Structure

  • Executive Summary.
  • Table of Contents.
  • Compliance matrix.
  • Frequent headings.
  • Topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs.

Principle #4:  Facilitate Navigation

  • Executive Summary.
  • Compliance matrix.
  • Table of Contents.
  • Page and section numbers.
  • Headers and footers.
  • Chapter and section titles.
  • Dividers and tabs.

Principle #5:  Create Manageable Chunks of Information

  • Break the narrative into small units.
  • Group related information together.

Principle #6:  Prioritize Information

  • Use different type sizes.
  • Use different type weights.
  • Indent.
  • Use a numbering or lettering system.

Principle #7:  Differentiate Information:

  • Themes.
  • Section summaries.
  • Lists.
  • Captions.
  • Sidebars.
  • Visuals.

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