Why do grant application details matter? First, there’s a uniformity issue. When the funder specifies margins, font sizes, line spacing, whatever, they want everyone’s applications to look similar because it makes reviewing and scoring them easier. Second, there’s a compliance issue. The funder wants to see that applicants can follow the guidelines. These nit-picky details put every applicant on a level playing field. All the rules are spelled out in the request for proposals so the process is fair for everyone.
But what creates a fair playing field for the applicants leads to a powerful screening tool for the funder. Before an application reaches the reviewers, it goes through an administrative screening to make sure it conforms to the RFP’s guidelines. Any deviations can lead to immediate rejection—no questions asked, no chance for appeal. Game over.
So, please, when you read a funding opportunity notice, highlight every detail—no matter how small—and pay attention to them. Don’t give the funding agency an excuse to reject your proposal before it’s even read.