Style Sheets are Your Friend

How many of you use Microsoft Word to write your proposals? If I had to guess, the number is over 99 percent. OK, that may be a stretch, but the point is that this application is ubiquitous in the world of proposal writing or for that matter any writing. The other major point to be made about this word processing application is that it is extremely powerful, but at the same time is quirky, sometimes even dramatically so.

Although the quirkiness sometimes gets to you (lost document anyone?), I'd like to convince you that by digging just a layer deeper into Microsoft Word's functionality, this application can truly be considered a proposal writer's friend.

Here's the pitch: the feature that elevates Microsoft Word to a true proposal writer's friend is style sheets. Using the style sheet functionality in Word enables you to format your documents consistently every time. A proposal written with a hodgepodge of styles is not only tougher to read, but it also reflects poorly on the quality you are able to deliver. Formatting using styles will ensure that the document is totally consistent from first page to last while allowing you to quickly reformat vast amounts of content by changing settings in one place only. If you haven't used styles in Word before, you and your team probably waste precious time making the proposal look attractive and sometimes get bound in knots while trying to achieve an appealing visual appearance. The reality is that there is definitely a learning curve with implementing a fully style sheet-based approach to proposal formatting. At the same time, as with most things that are valuable, the pain is worth the gain. The truth is that Word is your friend, and style sheets are the primary reason why. If you are not already, I'd start learning how to implement them right now. Go to the Word MVP site to learn how. Happy proposal writing!

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