Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

Bid Proposals | Copyediting best practice

 May 3, 2016
by Paul Heron

It takes discipline to find and correct all defects in a large proposal during each copyediting cycle. Some teams give up on continuous scrubbing, arguing it’s more efficient to do a careful proofread just before printing.

There are at least two issues with this approach:

  • Readers become distracted and frustrated by uncorrected errors
  • The final proofread may be rushed (or even missed) in the last-minute crunch

Do a careful scrub on every update

We’ve found it’s best to find and correct all errors at each document turnaround. This practice pays dividends in reviewer confidence, and in reducing the pressure for pre-deadline proofing. 

As a concession to efficiency, begin this process only when a section’s basic structure is settled and updates are primarily filling gaps and strengthening win themes and proof points.

We advise perfecting documents for the Red Team and all subsequent updates.

Create a detailed process for editors

Make a list of steps for editors to perform before they begin to copyedit. Ask them to complete each step for the entire document before moving on to the next. For the first six items in an 18-step process we used on a recent project, see below:

  • Enable “Check spelling as you type”
  • Select all and confirm desired language (e.g. US English, CAN English, etc.)
  • Accept tracked changes
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Check all headings for consistency:
    • Correct heading type in each instance
    • Use of capitalization
    • Acronym use
    • Spacing
  • Ensure all text is set to the correct defined style.

Our proposal managers ask section editors to work through the entire list, before beginning their detailed copyedits for logic, grammar, style, etc.

Gain confidence in your document

The payoff for all this effort is that you know your proposal is always close to perfect. Reviewers will respect it more, and it will be more resilient to last-minute change requests. 

As a not-insignificant side benefit, you can respond without misgivings to unexpected senior level requests to view the current draft.


Need help with bid proposal processes?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 






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