Formatting the Proposal

These proposals must be brief and cogent, so they will be a good test of your technical writing skills. Your proposal cannot be longer than two pages, formatted for ease of reading in 11 or 12 pt. type font and one inch margins all around. Proposals that exceed the two page limit and/or are in a font smaller than 11 pt. will be returned to you for revision without being read.

Organize your proposal in the following way:


Use a memo heading, addressing the proposal to the MS Faculty, and including an informative subject line, not one that could go on someone else’s proposal.


Give a one-or two-sentence overview of what you are proposing to do, including why you are writing the proposal (yes, you can mention ENG 675 and the MS Program, but there should be other, "real" exigencies you are trying to meet, problems you are trying to solve, and/or goals you are trying to attain with your project for another, specific audience; that's what we want to hear about).

Problem or Opportunity

Describe the rhetorical exigency: why is your project needed and who needs it? What state of affairs could be improved by the application of your skills and knowledge? Who is aware of the problem? Will you have to persuade anyone that there is a problem? Will you need any approvals? Are there any barriers to getting your project accepted and put into use? You may wish to do a brief needs assessment here, or indicate that you will do one as part of the project.

Objectives or Criteria

What features or specifications will a successful solution to the problem have to include? What criteria will the audience apply in judging your product?

Product or Deliverable

Describe in some detail just what you are promising to produce by the end of the semester. What is the genre, who is the audience, what medium will it be produced in, how long will it be, how will it be organized, how will it be disseminated to its audience? You may not be able to answer all these questions yet, but let your audience know where you are more certain and where you’ll need to work things out as you go.

Work Plan

Convince your audience that you really can complete this project successfully. What resources will you use—including theories, concepts, guidelines, standards, technology and other tools, facilities, data or other raw material, information-gathering strategies, and so on? Divide the work for the project up into major stages, indicate what you plan to have completed for the two major drafts for consultants to review, and provide a schedule for completing the work by the end of the semester. See the Schedule for due dates, but don't merely reproduce the course schedule; instead provide dates for stages and goals that are unique to your project.

Email your two page proposal to all MS Faculty as an attachment to an email file; both the subject line of the email and the name the attached file should follow this formula: yourlastname_675prop-X.doc, where X is the draft number; and your file as a Word document. This formula is based on the needs of the user, and will make finding and reading your proposal your proposal much easier.

The information above and sample proposals can also be found at Professor Covington's page.