Proposal Essay

“Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” —Aristotle

“Revision is not going back and fussing around, but going forward into the process of creation.”
—Mary Sarton


Your Proposal Essay will identify a problem related to your field of study, explain its causes, propose one or more solutions, and persuade your audience that the solution is feasible. Your goal is to persuade your audience that this solution is the best course of action.

Your essay will cite at least five credible sources, two of which are scholarly articles. The completed version of your proposal should be at least 10 pages: title page, abstract page, the essay itself, and references page. The essay itself, from the start of your introduction paragraph to the end of your conclusion paragraph, should be at least 7 pages or 1,750 words minimum. This means your whole 10 page document will be over 2,000 words.

The Writing Process

The writing process is “recursive,” which means that writers cycle through brainstorming, researching, drafting, and revising several times (see figure 1). You will be turning in your proposal multiple times, adding new sections and revising the old sections for the final draft.

Your final draft will be accompanied by a letter to me in which you explain the revisions you made. If the final draft does not follow all of my suggestions for revision, your grade on the final draft will be lower than your grade on the earlier drafts. I will not mark all of your grammatical errors for you. Instead, I will mark about 5 per student and it will be up to you to find and correct any other errors.

Figure 1. This figure illustrates the recursive nature of the writing process. Reprinted from The Writing Process. (n.d.). Capella University. Retrieved from:

Structure of the Proposal

Your proposal will contain the following five sections: introduction, three body sections, and a conclusion.* The longest section will probably be body section 2 “How will this solution alleviate the problem?” because that is where you go into the most detail about your proposal. This structure is based on the section “Developing Proposals” pages 291-297 of Chapter 12 of Everything’s An Argument, so use the advice in that chapter to help you write the essay.

• Introduction

This will be a one paragraph introduction that gives an overview of your topic and lists the upcoming sections of the paper in a numbered list. The last sentence of your introduction is a thesis sentence that follows the model on page 287 of Everything’s an Argument. Pages 293-4 on “Making a Strong and Clear Claim” are also helpful.

• 1. What is the problem?

This section should be a minimum of 3 paragraphs but no more than 5 paragraphs. Follow the advice in “Defining a Need or Problem” (292-3). What are the causes behind this problem? What negative impacts does this problem have?

• 2. How will this solution alleviate the problem?

This section should be a minimum of 4 paragraphs. It should be the longest section of your paper because this is where you explain exactly what should be done and who should do it. Follow the advice in “Showing That the Proposal Addresses the Need or Problem” (295-6).

• 3. Why is this solution feasible?

This section should be a minimum of 2 paragraphs. Follow the advice in “Showing That the Proposal is Feasible” (297). It might help to think of this as the “counterargument” section of your paper. What are some reasons people might not want to participate in your proposal? What are some reasons why some people might think your proposal will not work? Do your best to resolve their concerns.

• Conclusion

This section should restate your main points and restate your call for action. It should be 1 to 2 paragraphs. You are not required to use sources in this section because the conclusion should not include any new evidence. It just summarizes your main points. However, if there is a powerful quotation from a source or a moving anecdote that you can paraphrase to wrap up your paper for your audience, you might include it here and would cite the source.

*You can use my section names or use specific language about your own topic, but the content of the sections should be analogous to the sections listed above, e.g.


  1. The Causes and Effects of Nature Deficit Disorder in Children
  2. How to Design a Schoolyard that Heals Nature Deficit Disorder
  3. Natural Schoolyards Can Be Safe and Affordable
    Conclusion: Grounds for Change

Synthesis of sources

The paper should be organized by idea, not source. It should synthesize sources by explaining how they support or contradict each other. Each body section (sections 2, 3, and 4) should contain multiple paragraphs and two sources. Some paragraphs should cite at least two sources that each support the same topic sentence. The essay should not be structured like a list of summaries of different sources.


Your paper must also include an image that enhances your argument and cite that image correctly using APA format. The image should be incorporated into the body of the paper in a logical place, be analyzed in the paper and referenced with an in-text citation such as “See Fig. 1.”

APA Format

Follow the format of the sample paper in D2L. Use the library resources provided in D2L to help you with APA format for the document, in-text citations, and references page.

  • Page 1: Title page
  • Page 2: Abstract
  • Pages 3-9 (or longer): Essay
  • Page 10 (or longer): References Page

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