Assignment: Proposal Memo

1-to-2 page memo proposal. 

Proposal Memo

What you will turn in and what it’s worth
1-2 page proposal memo: 25 pts.
Peer review draft (stapled): 5 pts.
Oral presentation: 20 pts.
Self-evaluation memo: 10 pts.
Total: 60 pts.



Begin with the purpose statement you wrote for the previous assignment. This is the first paragraph of your memo.

The body of the memo will contain the following kinds of information (see Anderson pp. 519-527 for additional information about proposals):

  • Expanded description of the problem. Describe the problem and explain why it is important to your audience. Even if your readers already know about the problem, you must prove that you understand it well enough to investigate and ultimately solve it.
  • Expanded description of the investigation. Explicitly state the objectives of the investigation (use a bullet list with short, clear phrases) and describe how you will achieve those objectives. If you have three objectives, your description of the investigation should have three paragraphs, addressing the objectives in order.
  • Explicit statement of resources requested. What resources will you need (such as time away from regular work duties, money, equipment, assistants, etc.)? How much time will it take? If the investigation requires you to take time away from your regular (hypothetical) job duties, explain how you will manage that (e.g., will someone fill in for you?).
  • Schedule and budget for the investigation. How long will the investigation take? How will you spend the time (e.g., if the investigation has 3 phases, how long is each phase and what activities will occur during each phase)? How much will the investigation cost? How will the money be spent?
  • Conclusion. Summarize your proposal and restate the organizational goal. State how this investigation will help the organization achieve its goal(s). Remember: You are NOT making a recommendation; you are merely requesting to begin an investigation into a problem.



1-2 page memo (see Anderson, p. 567), 12 pt. font, 1” margins (ragged right), single spaced

Write a descriptive subject line. This can help get your memo past the gatekeeper audience to your primary audience (in a larger organization). For example, “Proposal” is insufficient. The subject line should convey both the subject of the memo and its purpose. “Proposal to investigate problems with ABC, Inc.’s interoffice mail system” is more descriptive.

Divide your memo into sections with meaningful subheadings. Organize the information from most important to least important to your audience.

Present the schedule and budget as a table or other graphic to make the information more accessible to the audience.



Design your report for a diverse audience of various members of the organization about which you are writing. The addressee of your memo (your hypothetical boss, supervisor, a member of management) will be the primary audience, but don’t forget about secondary, phantom, and possible future readers.

The addressee of the memo is the person with the authority to approve the proposal. Other readers might include managers of other departments affected by the problem, personnel whose cooperation you will need to conduct the investigation, employees who will be affected by the investigation and any changes you ultimately suggest as a result of your investigation.


Proposal Memo Evaluation Guide

These are the criteria I will use when I grade your proposal memo. They are arranged, generally, in descending order of importance and value.


 All necessary information/sections are present
Memo does not make recommendations or draw conclusions about problem or possible solutions
 Purpose of memo is clear from the first paragraph (purpose statement) and memo achieves stated communication purpose
 Problem is explicitly contrasted with organizational goal
 Necessary background information included
 Problem stated and described clearly and sufficiently
 Objectives follow logically from the problem and are clearly stated
 Each objective addressed in the proposed investigation plan/method in order
 Investigation seems to be a logical way to address the problem
 Resources requested clearly
 Schedule and budget clear and feasible
 Technical information understandable to audience
 Conclusion persuasively summarizes proposal and reiterates organizational goal
 Author anticipates reader objections/questions


 Appropriate information grouped under visually distinctive headings
Tables and figures used to facilitate understanding where needed (schedule and budget)
 Tables and figures are appropriately formatted, have titles and introductory text
 Bullet and numbered lists used where appropriate

Uses standard memo format

 Addressee and author identified by name and title
 Subject line is descriptive

Meets specific formatting requirements

 At least 1, no more than 2 pages long
 12 point font
 1” margins all around, with ragged right margin
 Single spaced
 No page number on page 1


 Professional, confident, persuasive tone
Jargon used appropriately
 Memo free of spelling, grammar, punctuation or other errors