Improve your proposal readability

There is an issue that we usually don’t care while writing proposals for our clients: readability.

We tend to forget that a document must be easy to read as the person who will read our proposal may not know all the jargon we use in our business. Actually, that person is looking for a solution to any issue or problem. But why readability is so important?

What is readability?

Wikipedia states readability is the ease with which a reader can understand a written text.

If we try to be more specific, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires any content to be written for an eight-grade reading level, which is also a 60-70 score on Flesch reading test. That is, plain English that a 13yo student could read without any issue.

Should you be curious enough to know more about the Flesch formula, here you have it:

So, let’s move forward.

How can you improve proposal reading ease?

Well, this is a tough question as it has a lot of maybes and depending.

Common advices for a good business proposal readability could be this:

  • Use only technical terms if you are forced to. If there is an easier word to express your idea, do it.
  • Only one idea per sentence. That is, avoid using compound sentences.
  • Use sections. As well as you split ideas onto several sentences, split your content and create a structure with unique ideas per section. That’s why on Quoters every section has its own page when you download a PDF.
  • Make it short. A shorter proposal can make your readers to take more attention to details than a 100-page document.
  • Also, avoid high syllable count on your sentences. A three-word-20-syllable sentence is more difficult to understand than a three-word-ten-syllable one.

Remember that we read mostly on small-screen devices and even though cellular screens size is bigger, that doesn’t make reading experience easier.

Despite all this, your documents must maintain enough quality to still being considered professional.

Using the usual technical jargon on your near circle sounds great: you are using the same language than your audience. But using hyper-technical words for non-savvy audience can be snobbish and make them think they are wasting their time with your proposal.

Knowing your reading ease on MS Word

If you want to know your proposal Flesch score, you can do it on Word: go to Options --> Proofing, check Show readability statistics. This post has a 63,0 Flesch score and a 7,8 Flesch-Kincaid score.