Students often ask me what format is best to use when sending a proposal digitally. While it may seem like a good idea to send a locked document (as a way of protecting intellectual property), I think it’s almost always better to send proposals as an unlocked PDF. Why? In an ideal situation, the person to whom you send the proposal will send it to other decision-makers in the chain. Since you took the time to create perfectly worded prose, you want to give them the privilege of copying and pasting some or all of it directly into their management memo and give them the credit for having written it.
In most cases, the person you send your proposal to is not really getting approval for you; they’re getting approval to do the project. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the persuasive language from your proposal is attributed to you or to the person passing your message along internally, as long as it works! Once your internal champion gets approval, they’ll come back to you and say, “Great news! We got the project approved.”