Apart from the various logistics that surround grant writing, this page outlines useful tips about grammar, mechanics, and overall formatting.



  • Use tables and figures for comparisons when possible; for example, if you’re describing the numbers of students and faculty and percent of x kind of student across three courses, use a table. It’s too hard to parse these groups in the text itself
  • Do not describe statistics in paragraphs; use tables/figures instead
  • Use highly informative visuals wherever possible
  • Bold the table and figure numbers in the text so that readers can more easily go back and forth
  • Do not use weird stock chart/figure/diagram type images from PowerPoint (or elsewhere)
  • Use tall skinny font (like Stephanie Evergreen!) for figures
  • Use left-justified font (justified font can easily look like a wall of text)
  • Keep the colors consistent; for example, do not code a scale from red to blue and then later do it from blue to red


Use simple language

  • Reduce the use of acronyms and instead use plain language; use very few (or no) acronyms! Even if acronyms are defined somewhere in the proposal, it is annoying to reviewers to not know what it is right away when reading it
  • Make sure the proposal reads with one voice



  • When providing a list of “stuff” (e.g., big problems that STEM students need to be trained to address like climate change, public health, food security, etc.) consider giving one rich specific, detailed example and then providing the others as a list
  • Try to number things in obvious and un-weird ways; don’t end up with sections labeled 3a1…


Be specific 

  • Remember that the reviewer is reading your proposal after having already read 2 or 3 or 4 or more other proposals that are saying the same kinds of things, so don’t be afraid to be very specific and unique
  • Jettison the common “academese” words (iterate, leverage, etc.). Look up Weird Al’s song called Mission Statement for inspiration 🙂



  • Use title case sparingly
  • Use short sentences