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UMGC Effective Writing Center Writing the Proposal Memo

How to Write the Proposal Memo

The Proposal Memo serves several purposes:

One, it is usually necessary in the work place to make a proposal to supervisors, have it approved, and possibly receive resources before beginning on a project. Therefore, this is a fairly common real-world writing task.

Two, writing this memo provides you an opportunity to implement the strategies of persuasive writing in a substantial business document.

Three, work on this memo moves you a step closer to your final project, the research-based persuasive report. Writing this memo will help ensure that you have done adequate primary and secondary research and that you have mapped out a clear problem, solution, audience, and plan for your final report.

How Should I Format My Memo?

You should format a memo using the preferred style in your company or work place. To do so, you would study published memos to determine margin size, font style and point size, where the date is placed, whether there is a preference for "Subject:" or "Re:", and so on.

What Should Be in the Memo?

The first part of any memo is the header, in which you identify the recipients, the sender, and the subject. Please address your memo to the decision maker or group of decision makers in your work place or community. Next, the memo should have the following six sections. Be sure to give each section a subtitle that fits with your overall proposal:

  • Summary: Most memos begin with a clear statement of purpose--the goal of the memo. However, as someone using reader-based prose, this is also the place to employ the strategy of establishing common ground and common goals.
  • What the problem is: Clearly identify and describe the problem for which you are proposing a solution. Try to limit this section to one paragraph.
  • Why this problem needs to be investigated: Here you are providing reasons why you think the problem is important in terms of the impact it is having. This should be one to two paragraphs.
  • Preliminary ideas for solving the problem: Here you supply the alternatives, recommendations, or solutions that you are considering. This should be one to two paragraphs.
  • What research has been conducted on the problem: Describe primary and secondary research that has been or will be carried out as you study the problem and its solution.
  • Conclusion: Since this is a proposal memo, the conclusion is where you ask for the permission, time, and resources that you will need to accomplish what you have outlined above.

In terms of length, completing each of the six sections will require more than one page. However, try to limit your memo to two pages or around 1000-1400 words. Slightly more or slightly less is fine, as is going to a third page, if it is justified.

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