Bid Writing Tips

Bid Writing Style

Bid Writing Tips

In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson tell us to “hire great writers….because being a good writer is about more than writing.  Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.  Great writers know how to communicate.  They make things easy to understand.  They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.  They know what to omit.  And those are qualities you want in any candidate.”

Good writing means being able to say exactly what you mean, accurately and succinctly.  You may not have a great writer on your staff and you may not have the budget to hire one, but according to Strunk and White there are a few simple rules to follow that go a long way to  cleaning up a writing style.


  1. Write in a way that comes naturally

We all have our own particular way of doing things, and writing style is no different.  Use words and phrases that naturally come to mind as opposed to trying to imitate someone else.


  1. Write with nouns and verbs

Write with nouns and verbs, rather than with adjectives and adverbs.  Combine a noun with a verb and you have a sentence.  Voices Carry. Richie runs. Jimmy cycles.   Strunk and White say that “the adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.”  As for adverbs, well Stephen King has some advice.

“The adverb is not your friend… with adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or picture across…I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” 

Adverbs litter submissions that are full of “sales speak.”  How many times have you read in a submission something along to the lines of “At Acme Solutions we truly believe that we are the number one supplier of….”

Apart from the sentence being the literary equivalent of an empty calorie – meaningless and a waste of space – is there any need for the word “truly”? No there isn’t.  Take out your red pen and put a line through any adverb in your submission.  You don’t need them.


  1. Revise and rewrite

As you write you may be very happy with what is falling out of your pen onto the page, but a quick read afterwards will throw up plenty of errors.  That’s no bad thing as revising what you write is part of the process.  Don’t let a manager bully you into thinking you’re inadequate just because you didn’t get it right first time.  A clear and simple piece of writing will more than likely have been revised several times.  Writing and editing are separate tasks.

  1. Do not overstate

Overstatement, according to Strunk and White, means that “readers will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in their minds because they have lost confidence in your judgement or poise.”

  1. Avoid fancy words

Nothing will annoy a reader more than the use of fancy and pretentious words.  You’re writing so that they person on the other end will understand you.  They don’t want to be running across the room to consult the Oxford English Dictionary every two minutes.


Hopefully these bid writing tips will help you clean up your bid writing style the next time you have to tender for a government contract.

For more information  about our Public Sector and Government bid consulting services please contact us on the form below.

Related posts

Don't Trust Your Spell Checker

Spell Checking Bids

Don’t Trust Your Spell Checker When you are editing your documents do not place too much trust in your spell checker.  Weed out every error by going through each section line by line.  The following poem contains a number of homophones – a homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but

Continue Reading
Use the Active Voice Writing Tenders

Bids in The Active Voice

Use the Active Voice Writing Tenders The writing style of most business documents relies heavily on the passive voice.  With the active voice the subject of the sentence is actually doing something, whereas with the passive voice something is being done to the subject. In his book On Writing Stephen King gives a humorous insight

Continue Reading
How to Present Figures in a Bid Submission

Using Figures in Tenders

How to Present Figures in a Bid Submission Most RFP responses, and even business reports, are littered with inconsistencies when using figures. Here are a few rules from the Economist Style Guide to keep you on the straight and narrow. In the style guide of most publications figures start at 10, but avoid mixing figures

Continue Reading

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: