Friday, May 28, 2010

Font Size, Spacing, and a 15 Page Proposal

There are all sorts of permutations of formatting for an NSF proposal. I've tried many, and my favorite was Arial, 10 pt font, and 1.5 line spacing. The proposal looked great - but my program manager said it was too sparse and needed more words.

So now, I'm working on my CAREER adding 'words' to fill in the gaps. And now I find myself at 10.5 Times font with single spacing. Is that too small? 10 is the minimum font size, and I think that 10 is really tiny for people with reading glasses, etc.

So what is your favorite formatting for an NSF proposal?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Times 11 or 12, single-spaced, approximately 12-13 figures for a 15-page proposal.

Anonymous said...

That's so ridiculous. Making it look more dense is exactly what reviewers hate. Sometime I get so tired of these games of appearances and proposals.

GMP (GeekMommyProf) said...

I wasn't sure if your problem this time around is too much text or too little, like before, since you said you are adding words but you are also considering a fairly small font...

If too little text, you can always enlarge the letters: go with Arial 11 pt or 12 pt font (I see a lot of 12 pt font proposals). I don't like too much spacing, so go with single spacing or 1.2 linespace at the most. Arial is a good clean choice for font if you are not pressed for space.

If you have too much text/not enough space, I would definitely drop Arial as the letters are too bulky. I like times New Roman, 11 pt font (would not go below 11 pt on Roman, they are too small otherwise) and single spacing. That's the densest I've found that still satisfies the NSF formatiing quidelines (however many lines within an inch etc.)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

For NSF, I use Arial 10 point, single line-spacing, and I have never had any complaints. I usually only have one figure per proposal, too, simply because they just take up too much precious space. For other programs, like USDA, that require 12 point font, I use Arial narrow. It really makes a huge difference to use Arial narrow if you are trying expecially hard to fit into the page limitations. I've reviewed for NSF and other agencies many times, though, and as a reviewer, I really didn't have a preference to what someone used. As long as I could read the proposal and they author followed the guidelines, I wasn't going to comment on their choice of font or line spacing. Besides, I stopped printing out the proposals after about the first review. If you just read them as pdf files on your monitor, you can increase the size of the image to whatever is comfortable. It doesn't really matter if you think 10 point Arial is too small when you can increase the magnification by upwards of 200%!

Anonymous said...

11 pt Arial, single spacing, lots of blank lines between sections, bold section headings, average of one figure per page

Anonymous said...

I use arial 10 pt single space with 6pt break between paragraphs. I often have to play around with the paragaph break or line spacing to get everything to fit in the 15 pgs (hate to leave blank space at the end because it gives the impression I ran out of stuff to say). I agree that anything more than 1.25 line spacing makes the page look too empty. I think you need more than 1 figure ... 5 or so is a good number in my opinion. Pictures speak a thousand words, so they say.

Anonymous said...

i often use intermediate spacing, e.g. 1.2 line spacing, and 1.8 lines between paragraphs. the paragraph spacing is very important to make it readable.

Anonymous said...

Check the guidelines, but I believe 10.5 pt Times is no longer allowed (10 pt is the minimum allowed for Arial and a couple others, but 11 pt is the minimum allowed for Times. One of my friends got her CAREER kicked back last year for using 10 pt Times.

I used to use Times 11 pt. I now use 10 pt Arial, single spacing, with a 6 pt space between paragraphs.

Janus Professor said...

You're right! 10 pt Times is bad bad bad.

OK, so I changed it to 10 pt arial, single space, with extra space between paragraphs.

It looks much better. Lots of words and lots of jibber jabber about SCIENCE and OUTREACH.

Oh, I'm so tired of looking at this thing.