20 Best Practices for AEC Proposals: Part 2

Hopefully you’re all jazzed from reading last week’s post about setting yourself up for a successful proposal.  The next piece I’ll discuss, and personally my favorite, are some tips for the graphic elements of a proposal.  Fair warning – a lot of this information is related directly to Adobe InDesign.

6. Reference your box of cool sh*t

Oh what’s that? You don’t have a box of cool sh*t? You better start one.  My teammates and I have an old plastic bin where we save cool pieces we each come across. It can have whatever you find to be inspirational – from paper samples, to different types of binding to beautiful layouts.

Here is our box of cool shit — we fancy, huh?

7. Hold a brainstorm session

Working in the design industry, you are sitting next to some of the most creative people you know.  Pick their brains! Hold a quick (5-10 minute) brainstorm with the rest of your marketing team and/or a group of designers.  Take a minute to explain your situation, and then let the conversation flow where it will.
The method and location is up to you.

8. Use Page Templates

Whether using master pages that you already have in place, or creating something custom and fresh — master pages are your friend. Having these in place will maintain graphic consistency and a simple text flow throughout a long proposal document. Here is a quick overview from Adobe.

9. Set up Paragraph and/or Character Styles

In the same way that page templates will save you time and provide consistency in the long run, paragraph and character styles will do the same. You can even set up keyboard shortcuts to allow you to switch styles without ever touching your mouse. Here is a quick overview from Adobe.

For best results, use awesome fonts.

10. Select a Color Palette

Choose a set of colors that will express your design intent while complementing the client. There are several websites that provide palettes, here are a couple of my favorite:

Colour Lovers


Anything I’m missing, or you’d like to add? Leave it in the comments section! Up next week – content development.