50 Words, Phrases, and Techniques that Save Proposal Space

One of a typical proposal writer’s biggest complaints is that the proposal is too page-constrained. Having a 50-page statement of work (SOW) and a 25-page proposal limit is not unusual, leaving writers struggling to explain their solutions sufficiently. As we review each recommendation in this blog, we specify how many characters and spaces you can save. At the end of the blog, we recommend how to use the savings to strengthen your proposal.

20 Words that Save Proposal Space

An easy way to save space is to substitute a word with many characters for one with fewer characters. As Table 1 shows, you save 96 characters by substituting a smaller word without losing meaning.

Table 1: Use words that save space

Big word or phraseNo. charactersA little word with the same meaningNo. charactersCharacters saved

20 Phrases that Save Proposal Space

We often unconsciously add common phrases to proposals that increase the number of words and characters. Table 2 shows how you can save proposal space by removing unnecessary wordy phrases.

Table 2: Reduce wordy phrases to save space

Wordy phraseNo. characters with spacesConcise word or phraseNo. characters and spacesCharacters and spaces saved
1At the same time as20Concurrent1010
2Considering the fact that25Considering1114
3Due to the fact that21Because714
4For the reason that19Because712
5Has the ability to18Can315
6Has the opportunity to22Can319
7In anticipation of18Before612
8In order to11To29
9In reference to15About510
10In the event that17If215
11In the interest of saving time25Saving time1114
12Is in the position to21Can318
13It is crucial that19Must415
14It is incumbent upon20Must416
15It is possible that20May317
16Subsequent to13After58
17The possibility exists that28Might523
18There is a chance that22May319
19There is a need to18Must414
20Under the circumstances23If221

10 Techniques to reduce proposal space

Eliminate fluff and provide more specific details using the techniques and examples listed in Table 3. Additionally, remove widows and orphans from the end of paragraphs and pages to save an entire line.

Table 3: Use editing techniques to save space

Technique explainedWordy exampleNo. characters and spacesExamplesNo. characters and spacesCharacters and spaces saved
1Don’t spell out commonly used acronyms or just spell them out onceInformation technology23IT221
2Eliminate “the” and “that” when applicableWe offer customers both the protection and the surveillance options that safeguard operations93We offer customers protection and surveillance options to safeguard operations7815
3Eliminate pairings that duplicate meaningWe offer an innovative AI program that is groundbreaking56Our AI program is innovative because…(explain precisely how it is innovative)3620
4Reduce or eliminate lengthy sentence transitionsAs a result of monitoring the budget carefully, we completed the work under budget82We completed the work under budget because of our daily monitoring6616
5Eliminate words that don’t add to the meaningOur team was successful in completing the project to the delight of the customer80Our team completed 100% of the project requirements ahead of schedule6911
6Kill “will” unless you are discussing a future situationThe team will submit the deliverable on Tuesday47The team submits the deliverable on Tuesday435
7Substitute adjectives and adverbs with a number or amountThe customer obtains substantial savings using our product59The customer saves 10% using our product4019
8Use active voice, not passive voiceThe deliverable is submitted by the team40The team submits the deliverable328
9Use bullets instead of sentencesAI tools can accelerate workflow efficiency43AI tools accelerate efficiency2713
10Use symbols instead of letters. For example, use > rather than the words “greater than”The team has greater than twenty-three years of experience59The team has >23 years of experience3623
    Total 151

Using the tips from this blog, we reduced the total character count (with spaces) by 542 characters and spaces. Given the average word has four characters and one space, you just eliminated 108.4 words or the equivalent of a small paragraph. If your proposal has multiple instances of “wordy” writing, it’s easy to reduce .5 pages of space without changing the intent of the writing using these techniques. You can use the extra space to highlight your proposal strengths or add a visual to improve your proposal score.

This blog is part of a series on Lohfeld Consulting’s website that includes:

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals. As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

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Brenda Crist