How Do You Write an Overview?

Sharon Drummond/CC-BY-2.0

Writing a project overview involves establishing the framework in which the project takes place, laying out the goals of the project, outlining the problems the project is designed to solve, summarizing the project and explaining the criteria for success. Project overviews are often critical elements of funding proposals, new program proposals or basic activity plans.

Most project overviews contain some version of a statement of purpose. It may be possible to sum up the project’s purpose in one sentence, or it may go into greater detail. Statements regarding a project’s goals should be as specific as possible, as should the criteria for success. Goals and success criteria should be measurable and verifiable. Other specifics often included in a project overview are the personnel involved in the project, an organizational chart, funding sources and any risks involved in undertaking the project.

Although project overviews are often small sections of larger, more detailed proposals, they are crucial because they are often the only part of a larger proposal that a busy decision-maker is likely to read. The best approach to take when writing an overview is to finish the entire proposal first, then summarize the key points into the project overview. Although this procedure may seem counterintuitive, it allows the project overview to be highly specific and focused.