Defending the Cause of Consistent Proposal Formatting 

Do you spend too much time formatting (and reformatting) the same content and not enough time on higher-level activities? Maybe your branding has a fresh new look, but what is the best way to put the new guidelines into practice? Put your superpowers to better use by leveraging MS Word Styles across all your documents.

Using Microsoft Word Styles, proposal writers can create beautiful and consistent proposal documents to set themselves apart from the competition – all while gaining more time to focus on higher-level activities to win the business.

Why use Styles?

Using Styles in your proposal documents gives you three superhero advantages:

  1. Control
  2. Consistency
  3. Easy updating

Microsoft Word Styles are a standard feature automatically in force in all documents regardless of whether the Styles are actively being applied. Therefore, taking control of them is essential to proper formatting as well as avoiding recurring formatting problems. For instance, if you have ever had unexpected results when copying and pasting content from one document to another (such as unwanted formatting changes), chances are likely that conflicts in Styles are the culprit. The answer is to actively create and apply the Styles definitions rather than passively rely on Styles that could be in the background without your knowledge.

Once you take control of Styles, it is far easier to maintain consistency within each individual document as well as across multiple documents. One key is to properly apply Styles to all boilerplate and template content as part of its review and storage. Such reusable content often forms the basis of new response documents. It should not only be ready-to-go when deployed, it should also represent the model to be used for any additional content as the response takes shape.

Perhaps best of all, once styles are consistently applied, it is a snap to make changes. Instead of updating each paragraph or page separately, simply update the definitions. Since the Styles have already been applied, any updates made to the definitions within a document will automatically update the document’s content.

Still not convinced?

With the many challenges inherent to responding to bid requests and creating proposals, it is critical to streamline as many tasks as possible. The right set of Styles applied throughout all content can help conquer many common business issues, including:

  • Enforcing branding guidelines and keeping pace with their changes
  • Complying with customer-mandated formatting requirements
  • Scaling across greater volumes of content and additional content contributors
  • Doing more with less when faced with ever-tighter deadlines and staffing shortages

Ready to start? Begin by collecting formal branding guidelines as well as examples of content that represents the look you want. Create your master set of Styles and begin applying them. Then, stay tuned for more Styles best practices.

Diane Loudenback is the VP of Client Services for Expedience Software.

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