Up to Snuff #35: Comparing Letter of Transmittal, Abstract and Introduction within a Proposal

Up to Snuff #35:  Comparing Letter of Transmittal, Abstract and Introduction within a Proposal
By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Letter of Transmittal-According to The Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing Section 2.5.3 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website (http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/l-trans.htm), the Letter of Transmittal should be brief and is synonymous with a “Cover Letter.”  The first paragraph describes “what is being sent and the purpose for sending it.”  Common conventions used in a Letter of Transmittal are the terminology “herewith” in the first paragraph and in the second paragraph “passive voice” very often in reference to estimates in grant proposals.  For example one may write I submit____herewith a proposal entitled____ to be performed under my direction in_________.  In the second paragraph one may write something like “I am requesting in the amount of ______total estimated for the period of_____through_____.”  Use of passive voice in the second paragraph statement with the verb “to be” in front of request is considered appropriate.

“A longer transmittal letter may summarize the key elements of the proposal in one or two sentences and provide the recipient with other useful information. A Transmittal Letter or cover letter accompanies a larger item usually a document.  A Transmittal Letter provides the recipient with a specific context in which to place the larger document and simultaneously giving the sender a permanent record of having sent the material.  End Transmittal Letters with one sentence paragraph that establishes “goodwill” by thanking or complimenting the recipient. (“The Mayfield Handbook of Technical and & Scientific Writing,” Section 2.5.3, http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/l-trans.htm)

End with for any questions relating to technical aspects etc. contact and phone number.  The goodwill statement can be something like “your consideration of my proposal is greatly appreciated.”  Also end with enclosures:  Proposal and cc:

An Abstract- According to the Purdue Owl, “an Abstract is a brief summary of the paper allowing readers to quickly review the main points and purpose of the paper.  An Abstract should be between 150-250 words, abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper should be defined in the abstract.  The word abstract should be centered and typed in 12 point Times New Roman.  Do not indent the first line of the Abstract paragraph.  All other paragraphs in the paper should be indented.”   (Purdue Owl, APA Sample Paper, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/18/)

The examples Purdue Owl uses, “this paper explores 4 published articles that report on results from research conducted on online and offline relationships and their relationship to computer mediated communication.  Some questions proposed by Purdue owl in an abstract are:  How they vary?  What they suggest in articles?  Definitions?  Whose research was examined?  How they influence subject of proposal? Keywords?

Introduction to a Proposal-“Title should be centered on page and 12 point Times New Roman font not bolded, underlined or italicized.  The introduction presents the problem that the paper addresses.”  Numerous studies have been conducted (their focus), however what results indicated, due to what circumstances, who suggests what, to understand problem what should be studied, what paper examines.  If article has 3 to 5 authors write out all of the author’s names first time they appear, then first author’s last name followed by “et. Al””

(Purdue Owl, APA Sample Paper, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/18/)

How similar? One is often summarizing in a specific way key elements.  Sometimes they are presenting the proposal, sometimes presenting the problem, sometimes summarizing the paper.

Why not redundant in purpose? Each topic has its task to achieve.


Kennedy, Goerge E & Tracy T. Montgomery, Technical and Professional Writing:  Solving Problems at Work, Upper Saddle River, NJ Prentice Hall

Purdue Owl, APA Sample Paper, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/18/

Perelman, Leslie & Paradis, James &, Barret, Edward, Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing, McGraw-Hill Companies, The, 1/17/1997, Transmittal Letter, Section 2.5.3, http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/l-trans.htm

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