Agency Specific Help
National Science Foundation (NSF)

          NSF logo             

This page provides information and helpful links pertaining to NSF funding.

Useful NSF Links/Overview

Funding Opportunities Announcements

Form Preparation

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

CAREER Specific Resources

The following guidelines establish the minimum type size requirements; however, PIs are advised that 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. Adherence to type size and line spacing requirements also is necessary to ensure that no proposer will have an unfair advantage, by using smaller type or line spacing to provide more text in the proposal.

Page Numbers

NSF does not automatically paginate a proposal. Each section of the proposal that is uploaded as a file must be individually paginated prior to upload to the electronic system.


Use one of the following typefaces identified below:

  • Arial*, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger
  • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger
  • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger

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. PIs are cautioned, however, that the text must still be readable.

Note - While Ariel 10pt font is allowed, it often violates the vertical spacing requirements outlined below. It is strongly recommended to use Times New Roman 11pt to ensure compliance.


  • No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch.
  • Margins, in all directions, must be at least one inch.

Page Formatting

  • Proposers are strongly encouraged to use only a standard, single-column format for the text.

In case you didn’t know…. UNALLOWABLE COSTS:

 Entertainment: Costs of entertainment, amusement, diversion and social activities and any costs directly associated with such activities (such as tickets to shows or sporting events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation and gratuities) are unallowable. Travel, meal and hotel expenses of grantee employees who are not on travel status are unallowable. Costs of employees on travel status are limited to those allowed under the governing cost principles for travel expenses. 

Meals and Coffee Breaks: No funds may be requested for meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of an organization or any of its components, including, but not limited to, laboratories, departments and centers. Meal expenses of grantee employees who are not on travel status are unallowable.

Alcoholic Beverages:  No NSF funds may be requested or spent for alcoholic beverages.

Useful NSF Links

Funding Opportunities Announcements

  1. Familiarize yourself with the variety of Funding Opportunities
  2. Types of Funding Opportunities
    • Program Descriptions
      • Proposals for a Program Description must follow the instruction in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG)
    • Program Announcements
      • Proposals for a Program Announcement must follow the instructions in the PAPPG
    • Program Solicitations
      • Proposals must follow the instructions in the Program Solicitation; the instructions in the PAPPG apply unless otherwise stated in the solicitation
    • Dear Colleague Letters
      • Dear Colleague Letters are notifications of opportunities or special competitions for supplements to existing NSF awards
  3. Types of Proposal Submissions
    • Full Proposal
      • The National Science Foundation (NSF) will reject submissions of full proposals that do not contain the mandatory sections. The required sections must be included or identified as not applicable.  For instructions and templates see Proposal Component Resources. The 10 required sections, as of March 18, 2013, are as follows:
        • Project summary
        • Data management plan
        • Postdoctoral mentoring plan (if applicable)
        • Project description
        • References cited
        • Biographical sketches
        • Current and pending support
        • Budget
        • Budget justification
        • Facilities, equipment, and other resources
      • Letters of Intent
        • Some NSF program solicitations require or request submissions of a letter of intent (LOI) in advance of a submission of a full proposal. A LOI is not binding.
      • Preliminary Proposal
        • Some NSF program solicitations require or request submission of a preliminary proposal in advance of a full proposal.
  4. When to submit proposals
      • No Deadlines
        • Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time.
      • Target Dates
        • Dates after which proposals will still be accepted, although they may miss a particular panel or committee meeting
      • Deadline Dates
        • Dates after which proposals will not be accepted for review by NSF. The deadline date will be waived only in extenuating circumstances. Such a deviation only may be authorized in accordance with PAPPG Chapter II A.
      • Submission Windows
        • Designated periods of time during which proposals will be accepted for review by NSF. It is NSF's policy that the end date of a submission window converts to, and is subject to, the same policies as a deadline date.

Form Preparation

Project Summary

Project Description

Referenced Cited

Budget (Including Justification)

Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources

Biographical Sketches

Current and Pending Support

  • NSF Current and Pending - Instructions and required template (as an attachment) for creating all senior personnel's Current and Pending

Supplementary Documents

Data Management Plan

  • Data Management Plan (DMP) – To create a DMP, the JMU Library recommends using the California Digital Library's DMPTool.  Please visit and click "Get Started" to select James Madison University and log in with your JMU e-ID and password.  JMU has provided customized "suggested response text" to each template, relating to data storage options on campus. Researchers can then copy and paste the relevant institutional information to their plan. If you have any questions please contact Yasmeen Shorish, the Science Librarian, at or see the JMU library website for answers and links to additional information.

Mentoring Plan

  • Post Doc Mentoring Plan (Conditionally Required) - Requirements and guidelines when developing a Post Doc Mentoring Plan

Other Supplementary Docs

Single Copy Documents

Collaborators and Other Affiliations

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

Back to Top