Have you ever written a grant that you felt certain would earn you funding, only to find out later that you were not awarded any money? After pouring much time and energy into writing a grant, it can be very disappointing to not have anything to show for it. Making a great first impression with your grant application can be important in establishing credibility and interest on the part of the grant reviewer. It also could help move your grant application ahead of the others in the stack.
Good highlighting makes content more readily accessible to review. However, bad formatting is a distraction and hinders your main message. In this article, we will discuss some simple tips on how to format a grant application to make it more appealing to those reviewing it. If you want experts to review your application before you submit it or if you need assistance in any other part of your grant writing process, contact one of our experts today for a free consultation.
Review the guidelines for requirements regarding format. Be sure to meticulously follow formatting guidelines in the Request for Proposals. If you are uncertain about a requirement, contact the funding agency.
Make your application easy to read. Grant reviewers spend countless hours reading through applications. Use a font that is easy to read and a font size that is appropriate. For example, do not use script or “fun, silly” fonts. Select a standard, formal font like Times or Times New Roman. When selecting a size, 12-pt font is usually standard. Anything smaller than 10-pt font becomes too difficult to read, unless used in a caption of a picture or chart.
Be consistent. Make sure that you use the same font and font size in your headings, the same spacing between sections, the same spacing between paragraphs, etc. If your application and materials are very long, you may find it helpful to create styles or macros that will define your headers, paragraph text, etc. These tools help assure consistency and let you change all instances of a particular format with a single action, thereby saving you time and effort in editing. Consistency makes your application easy to follow, which will keep grant reviewers focused on the content of your application.
Limit big blocks of text. Large blocks of text can be intimidating and more difficult to read than lists or charts. Instead of using large blocks of texts to explain something, illustrate your ideas using a bulleted list or a chart. When using a bulleted list, keep the points uniform. For example, if you are making a list of actions, do not throw in a random noun that shows no action. If using a chart, make sure you clearly label all important aspects of the chart. For example, the reviewer would need to know if a chart’s numbers are in the hundreds, thousands, millions, etc.
Double- and triple-check all application materials. The last thing you want is to overlook an important component that is required of the application. Make sure you submit materials in the order requested, if applicable. If there is no recommended order for how to package or submit materials, then do so in an order that makes sense. Also double-check for grammar and misspellings, as well as any references within your application to another piece of material. For example, if you say “see page 12,” make sure what the reviewer is looking for on page 12 is still on page 12 and has not been moved. It would be wise to have at least one more set of eyes to look over your application. It’s virtually impossible to check your own work.
These tips might seem like common sense, but they are well worth reviewing. Taking time to polish and refine your presentation gives you a competitive edge, since these steps are frequently overlooked by proposers in the rush to meet a deadline. Remember, if you want experts with years of experience to review your grant before you submit it, we can help you. Contact a grant expert today for more information.
Image credit: Linus Bohman, Bohman