How to Build a Professional Proposal Template in Word

A proposal template in Word is a great tool to equip your sales team or your estimators with. That is because a proposal is one of the most important documents you send to your clients or potential customers. And you want your proposals to be professional, catch your clients’ attention, and offer all the information needed for them to make a decision favorable to you.

Since Microsoft Word is a popular application to create business documents, we built a step-by-step guide to help you build a professional proposal template in Word. Divided into sections, this Word proposal template outlines your companies objective, the scope of work, cost breakdown, exclusions, terms and conditions, and more. This proposal template for Word contains placeholder information and pre-formatted tables to guide sales representatives as they write their next proposals.

In this article we’ll build the below proposal template in Word step by step.

In this article:

Proposal Template Definition - What Is A Proposal Template

What is a Proposal Template

Simply put, a proposal template is a document that a salesperson can start from when creating a proposal instead of starting from scratch. A proposal template contains the different sections you want included in your final document along with placeholders and sample text to guide your sales team. Two of the most important benefits of having a library of a proposal templates are reducing time to create proposals and ensuring a consistent look across your bids / estimates that strengthens your brand.

What is Included in a Proposal Template

Proposal content depends on the occasion and project you are bidding, but at the very least, you need to include your client’s and project information, description of scope, price, and terms and conditions. Don’t forget your company’s information of course. Here’s a more complete list of proposal elements.

  1. Specification of Parties
  2. Scope
  3. Materials
  4. Labor
  5. Insurance
  6. Equipment
  7. Exclusions
  8. Lead Times
  9. Cost Breakout
  10. Terms and Conditions
  11. Alternates

For an in-depth description of these elements, read our Construction Proposal Elements.

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Construction Proposal Example

Live Workshop Every Thursday – How to Build a Professional Proposal in Word

In this live online session, you will learn how to build a professional-looking proposal in Word. You will go over cover design, cost table, and other graphic elements. At the end of the workshop you will receive a link for you to download ready-to-use, pre-designed proposal templates.

Register now for the next workshop on how to build a professional proposal in Word.

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Build a Proposal Template for Word – Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Set new document margins in your Word document

Before adding any elements or text to our proposal template in Word, we’ll set the document margins and header and footer.

  1. Open Word
  2. Click on Layout, Margins, Custom Margins
  3. Change margins from 1 to 0.5 for left and right and 0.75 for top and bottom (or 0.5 for all)
Proposal Template Word - Step 1 - Set new margins for your Word document

Step 2: Set a different header & footer on the first page

  1. On the ribbon, click on Insert
  2. Open Header menu
  3. Click Edit Header
  4. On the Header & Footer menu, select ‘Different First Page’
Proposal Template in Word - Step 2 - Select Different Header & Footer for 1st page

Step 3: Cover design – add a picture to the cover

In this example, we are creating one of the most complex designs, with graphics and backgrounds behind text. The trick to have perfectly aligned graphics behind text on the cover, is to put the graphics in the ‘Header’.

  1. Double click at the top of the document to enter the Edit Header mode. Or click Insert -> Header -> Edit Header
  2. Next, we’ll place the picture on the right in the header.
    Click Insert -> Pictures -> This Device
  3. Select the picture you want to insert
  4. Click Insert
  5. With the picture selected
  6. Click on the Layout Options
  7. Select the bottom right one ‘In Front of text’
  8. Now we can move the picture off to the right of the screen
Proposal Template in Word - Step 3 - Cover Design - Add Graphics

Step 4: Cover design – add a background on the left

Still in Edit Header mode:

  1. Click on Insert -> Shapes
  2. Select Rectangle
  3. Draw a rectangle that is as high as the picture and fills the white space
Proposal Template in Word - Step 3 - Cover Design - Add Background

Step 5: Cover design – add your company logo in the proposal template word

Still in Edit Header mode:

  1. Click on Insert -> Pictures -> This Device
  2. Select Your Company Logo (we need an image without background for this design, or match the rectangle background to the logo background)
  3. In Layout Options select ‘In Front of Text’
  4. Resize the logo and place it on top of the color block
  5. Exit ‘Edit Header’ mode (double-click on screen outside the page)
Proposal Template for Word - Step 5 - Cover Design - Add Company Logo

Step 6: Add client and project information and your company info

In regular edit mode:

  1. Add the name of our company under the logo along with contact information
  2. Add your tagline or specialty – make this text bigger, a different font, and a color that matches the picture on the right
  3. Type in today’s date
  4. Add your client’s information
  5. And project information under that
Step 6 - Cover Design - Add Client and Project Info

Step 7: Designing the header for the rest of the pages

On the first page:

  • Click enter until you generate a second page

On the second page:

  1. Enter Edit Header mode (double-click at the top of the page or Insert -> Header -> Edit Header)
  2. Click somewhere in the Header
  3. Click Insert -> Text Box on ribbon
  4. Type the name of the project
  5. With the text box selected, click Shape Format -> Shape Outline -> No Outline to remove the text box border
Proposal Template - Step 7 - Create Header for pages

Still in Edit Header mode on the second page – insert horizontal line:

  1. Click Insert -> Shapes -> Select Line
  2. Draw a line in the header from the left margin to the right margin (to draw a straight line, hold down shift while drawing)
  3. With the line selected: Click on Shape Format -> Shape Outline on the Ribbon
  4. Select Dashes
  5. With the line selected: Click on Shape Format -> Shape Outline and select a gray color for the line
Proposal Template Word - Step 7 - Insert Horizontal Line in Header for pages

Step 8: Designing the footer for the rest of the pages

Still in Edit Header & Footer on the second page:

  1. Draw the dotted line the same way you did in the Header
  2. Then Insert -> Text Box -> Draw Text Box and draw a rectangle in the Footer
  3. With the text box selected, click on Header & Footer on the ribbon
  4. Select Page Number -> Current Position -> Style you want (Page 2 of 2)
  5. Align the text to the right and remove text box border as we did before
Proposal Template - Step 8 - Designing Footer - Enter Page Number

Still in Edit Header & Footer on the second page:

  1. Then Insert -> Text Box -> Draw Text Box and draw a rectangle in the Footer
  2. Type your company’s information
  3. Remove Text Box border as before
  4. Place the text in the footer so it aligns with the page number
Step 8 - Designing Footer - Enter Company Info

Step 9: Add the content of the proposal template in Word

Now that our Header and Footer for the rest of the pages are designed, we place the content of our proposal on the second page.
The minimum sections we recommend for a proposal are Scope, Cost Breakdown, Terms & Conditions.

  1. Scope (can be stated in the introduction)
  2. Cost Breakdown (as simple or detailed as you think is needed)
  3. Any other sections you may need
  4. Terms & Conditions
  5. Signature lines if needed

Your proposal is now ready to be turned into a PDF and sent to your client.

Proposal Template in Word

Further Reading