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Overview

Overview

If you have ever stared at the blinking cursor on your computer screen (or worse, at a blank piece of paper in your typewriter), you know the anxieties involved in putting your thoughts on paper. In business, not only are we required to write the basic forms of communication (usually memos and letters), but we soon realize there is more to learn: how to write successful proposals and winning reports. Here are brief descriptions of each:

Proposals

A proposal’s primary objective is to persuade your target audience to take specific action, including hiring you or your firm or buying your product. Often you will write a proposal in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) sent to you by another organization.

To win a new client or customer or retain an existing one, you usually face strong competition. Whether you work for an organization or you are self-employed, proposal writing often presents a key opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd. A poorly written proposal can quickly kill your chances; a good one can influence—or even determine—the outcome.

That is why your proposal has to be as good as you can make it. Not only should it be clear and concise, but it must be persuasive and tailored for the potential client or customer.

Reports

You may need to write reports for readers internal or external to your organization, although you may find that most of your reports will be for someone in higher authority within your organization. People in business write reports for a variety of reasons. Reports can be informative or persuasive or a combination of both. Persuasive reports usually fall into two broad categories: (1) problem/solution and (2) feasibility studies. Informative reports include employee evaluations, progress reports and minutes of meetings.

Short reports (fewer than eight pages) are sometimes in a memo or letter format, while long reports are more formal and may include a title page and table of contents.

Writing winning proposals and successful reports requires knowing more than the fundamentals of writing well. In the following pages, you will learn how to organize, develop and edit your reports and proposals. You will learn that report and proposal writing is a process—not a single event. You will also discover strategies to help you tailor your work and persuade your reader, so you will be more successful in achieving your objectives.

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