For some tenders, the tender document format is set by the buyer. You have a pre-formatted template to input your answers, and limited opportunities to change the design. In others, you need to create a document from scratch and can make the most of the design and formatting to make an impact.
No matter the restrictions on the tender document format, you can use the design to enhance the content of your submission. Here are 5 suggestions for how to spruce up your submission to catch the evaluator’s eye.
One effective way to use design is to co-brand the document with your own and the customer’s logo. This can easily be done in the document header and visually sets you and client-side by side, in partnership.
Taking it one step further, if your brand colours are complementary, you can weave them together through the document design, for example using them for headers, bullet points, or for emphasis. You can change the colours in a document through the theme. (Not sure how to do that? Click here.) Make sure that you check the tender documents before setting up a document so that you comply with the requirements for font size as some tenders will limit the font or size used and that also applies to headers.
Protip: Get the client’s colour scheme accurately from their website using this colour picker website.
2. RAG Rating
Red, Amber, Green is a universally understood rating system that can be used effectively as part of the tender document format. You can use it as a shortcut to demonstrate to clients how you meet requirements – for example, if you were to list out their customer service standard, you could use amber to show where you meet it, and green where you exceed it. RAG ratings also support a visual risk register, drawing attention to which risks are most likely to occur and which are well mitigated.
3. Call-out Boxes
4. Tables, Diagrams, and Images
Again, you will need to check the tender documents carefully before including tables or diagrams as they are not always permitted. But if they are, they are a great way to break up blocks of text, summarise key information, and highlight elements of your win theme. They can also be an effective way of presenting complex information concisely, which can be a big help if you have a tight word count for the response.
On the other hand, these design elements can take up a lot of page space, so if you are working to a page count rather than word count you need to think carefully before using them. If you can include appendices, you could always add a small version of the graphic to the page and attach the full size as an appendix.
5. White Space
Written communication experts are aware of the idea of ‘reader fatigue’. That is, where the job of reading a piece of text is made more difficult somehow. With the average reading age here in the UK at just 9 years old, this can happen easily if you use long paragraphs of unbroken text. If you have a tight page count and a lot to say, sometimes this is unavoidable, but if you can break up text where possible it does help the experience of reading your work.
You can do this through some of the techniques we’ve talked about above, adding in images or diagrams or call out boxes and using clear headers that help guide the reader through the text can help too. But one often overlooked aspect of a tender document format is the use of white space. If you are working to a word limit it will be easier to create as you can split paragraphs down and increase the line spacing to break up blocks of text. If you are on a page limit this can be trickier.
Using bullet points can be a great way to create a change of pace, switching from long sentences to short ones. It can also be a good way to create white space and give the reader’s eyes a rest. If you are on a page count and need to minimise space used then split your bullet points over two or more columns to create the same effect without taking up too much real estate on the page.
Call in the Professionals
If you really want to make an impact with your tender submission, then it will pay to call in a professional designer. We can help with that! We regularly support our clients to make a splash with their proposals, whether it’s the responses themselves, killer appendices, or stand-out diagrams we can help. Get in touch today to find out more.