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The following does NOT replace the detailed information available within the relevant funding opportunity announcement, the funding agency’s forms, instructions, and review criteria. These formatting guidelines are based on information available in the NSF GPG (updated 12/26/14).  For any questions, please refer to the RFA or contact the program officer.

Fonts/Typefaces Allowed

  • Arial (font size 10 points or larger)
  • Computer Modern family of fonts (font size 11 points or larger)
  • Courier New (font size 10 points or larger)
  • Palatino Linotype (font size 10 points or larger)
  • Times New Roman (font size of 11 points or larger)
  • Macintosh users may also use Helvetica and Palatino typefaces (font size 10 points or larger)

Note: No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch.

A font size of less than 10 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figures, table or diagram captions, and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters. However, text must still be legible.


  • at least one (1) inch margins in all directions (top, bottom, left, and right)
  • paginate each section of the proposal that is uploaded as a file
  • standard paper size (8 ½” x 11″)
  • a standard, single-column format for the text is recommended as a two-column format can cause difficulties when reviewing the document electronically.

These requirements apply to all uploaded sections of a proposal, including supplementary documentation. While line spacing (single-spaced, double-spaced, etc.) is at the discretion of the proposer, established page limits must be followed. Individual program solicitations, however, may require different type size, margin, or line spacing requirements.

The guidelines specified above establish the minimum type size requirements; however, readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in selection of an appropriate font for use in the proposal. Small type size makes it difficult for reviewers to read the proposal; consequently, the use of small type not in compliance with the above guidelines may be grounds for NSF to return the proposal without review.


Use English and avoid jargon. If terms are not universally known, spell out the term the first time it is used and note the appropriate abbreviation in parentheses. The abbreviation may be used thereafter.