My clients often ask, “Do we really need an acronym* list?” The simple answer is YES. Although they are a pain, and can take several hours to create, it’s best practice to include an acronym list. For one, they will save you space in your proposal. If you have a good acronym finder macro (I highly recommend Acrogen by Dick Eassom), then you can reduce the number of characters in your proposal simply by only spelling out phrases once. Second, they present a more professional picture of your proposal. They’re like window dressings; you only notice when they aren’t there.
A word of caution – make sure it’s clear whether they are included in the official page count or not. If it’s not clear in the solicitation, ask the question. I have a standard list of questions I ask every time to clarify page limits, font sizes, etc. If you think it’s not important to clarify whether the acronym list is included in the page count, just read THIS GAO protest. TL:DR – ManTech submitted a proposal with 11 introductory pages, including an extensive acronym list. The Agency included it as a part of their official page count and stopped reading their technical response 11 pages before the end.
If you’re still wondering if it’s absolutely necessary to spend the time on creating a list that the agency won’t look at, just read THIS GAO protest decision. There’s so much to love in this protest. TL:DR – the protestor didn’t define “AWS” (Amazon Web Services) in their proposal. If you work on any IT proposals at all, you’ll know that this is a pretty common acronym. The agency stated, ” its proposal was ‘riddled with grammatical errors…spelling errors; lack of acronym identification, consistency and accuracy; inconsistent reference and terminology, and punctuation errors.” Ouch.
*Yes, I know there’s a difference between acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms. I’m using “acronym” as a broad term.