How To Manage Tight Word Or Page Counts
Page and word limits can be challenging but resist the urge to reduce the font to 4pt, shrink the margins and remove all punctuation marks to squeeze in a few extra words!
Limits are usually an indication that the client wants to receive a concise and relevant response. They don’t want to spend time wading through unnecessary content.
Here are a few simple guidelines for responding to word and page limited proposals:
1. RESPECT THE LIMIT
Keep to the word or page count. It’s too easy to be taken out on a technicality before your proposal is assessed.
2. FOCUS ON ANSWERING THE QUESTION CONCISELY
Restricting words forces you to only include relevant information. Succinctly explain the direct benefit your solution provides with evidence. Don’t include unnecessary company information or unwanted technical information.
3. GET THE MAJOR RELEVANT CONTENT IN FIRST AND THEN CULL
Answer the questions first going over the word limit and then edit your content to meet the restrictions. Use simple English, eliminate unnecessary words and write succinctly. Make every word earn its place.
4. USE LAYOUT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Leave sufficient white space and use large enough font size to make reading your response easy. Using tables and dot points allows you to summarise information on a page with less words. Use two columns to fit more text onto a page. A powerful and informative graphic can visually represent the key message with significantly less words.
5. CONSIDER REALISTICALLY BEING ABLE TO PROVIDE A RESPONSE
Assess the overall response document before you start writing. Is the document too restrictive to articulate a concise and clear solution response? Will this be the same for your competitors? If so, ask the evaluators for more space.
6. MAKE SURE YOU PROVIDE ENOUGH INFORMATION
Too little information and your client will not be able to differentiate you from your competitors on anything except price. So use the space you have to articulate a strong story about your ability to deliver the work above your competitors.
7. ALLOW EXTRA TIME FOR LIMITED PROPOSALS
Don’t underestimate how long word limited proposals take. Providing detailed responses with the right information to a restricted word count takes time to write and then additional time to edit the content to fit the limitations.
8. RESTRICTIVE PORTALS AND FIXED FIELDS
When working on portals or fixed fields it is often easier to work outside of these forms until you have a concise answer to the right limit and then cut the content back into the restrictive field.
9. USE HIGH QUALITY ATTACHMENTS
When pressed for space, you can include relevant high quality attachments to support your response (where allowed).