Last modified: Feb 6, 2018


Proposals must comply with NIH font, spacing and margin requirements. Conformance with all preparation and submission instructions is required and will be strictly enforced by NIH unless a deviation has been approved in advance of proposal submission. Please note that NIH may return without review proposals that are not consistent with these instructions.

The list to the left is not intended to be an all-inclusive repetition of the required proposal contents and associated proposal preparation guidelines. It is, however, meant to highlight certain critical items so they will not be overlooked when the proposal is prepared.

Format Specifications:

Save all files with descriptive file names of 50 characters or less and be sure to only use standard characters in file names: A through Z, a through z, 0 through 9, and underscore (_). Do not use any special characters (example: “&”, “-“, “*”, “%”, “/”, and “#”) or spacing in the file name, and for word separation use underscore (example: “My_Attached_File.pdf”) in naming the attachments.
Font: Use an Arial, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype, or Georgia typeface, a black font color, and a font size of 11 points or larger. (A Symbol font may be used to insert Greek letters or special characters; the font size requirement still applies.)   Type density, including characters and spaces, must be no more than 15 characters per inch.  Type may be no more than six lines per inch.
Paper Size and Page Margins: Use standard paper size (8 ½" x 11).  Use at least one-half inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages. No information should appear in the margins, including the PI’s name and page numbers.
Page Formatting:Since a number of reviewers will be reviewing applications as an electronic document and not a paper version, applicants are strongly encouraged to use only a standard, single-column format for the text. Avoid using a two-column format since it can cause difficulties when reviewing the document electronically.  Do not include any information in a header or footer of the attachments. A header will be system-generated that references the name of the PD/PI. Page numbers for the footer will be system-generated in the complete application, with all pages sequentially numbered.
Figures, Graphs, Diagrams, Charts, Tables, Figure Legends, and Footnotes:You may use a smaller type size but it must be in a black font color, readily legible, and follow the font typeface requirement. Color can be used in figures; however, all text must be in a black font color, clear and legible.