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Paul Maplesden

It’s vital to document and share exactly how you and your client are going to work together. This document is known variously as a scope document, a briefing note, a statement of work, or a proposal; this guide will explain how to create one and what it should contain.



A scope document is an essential part of the relationship between a freelancer and their client. It defines all the aspects of the work you’re being asked to complete, and gets agreement from the client that they are happy with the scope of work. We’ll cover:

  1. Understanding the purpose of a scope document
  2. Differences between a scope document and a contract.
  3. How to create a scope document.
  4. Agreeing and sharing your scope document with the client.
  5. Using the scope document to guide your work.


Understanding the purpose of a scope document

A scope document sets out the work that you are going to carry out for your client. Think of it as a job description and project plan in one. The essential parts of a scope document are:

  • Defining what you’re delivering - The planned outcome.
  • Explaining who is involved - Clarifying roles and responsibilities for anyone involved in the work.
  • Actions - Key tasks that need to be completed.
  • Timescales - Any specific deadlines or project milestones.
  • Quality - Explaining how you’re going to measure and ensure quality.
  • Specifics - Any other specific areas that need to be clarified.


Differences between a scope document and a contract

You should already have a contract in place with your client. A scope document works alongside your contract to keep everything clear. While your contract has a high level view of the work you’re going to do, what you will be paid, etc, the scope document provides much more detail.

Of course, you can combine a contract and a scope document, but I find it’s easier to have an overall contract and individual scope documents for each project.


How to create a scope document

You’re going to be sharing your scope document with your client, and they will need to edit and review it. Because of this, it’s best to create scope documents in Word or Google Docs.

  1. Headings - Create headings for each of the areas below in the document and include the relevant information.

  2. People - Set out who the scope document is between (you and your client) and include a date. E.g. between Paul Maplesden and Domino.

  3. Project - State the name of the piece of work you’re going to be completing. E.g. Creation of a knowledge base for Domino.

  4. Actions - Add the key steps you will need to take to complete the project, including a brief description, milestones, due dates and any other key information. E.g. Provide basic information by x date. Create first draft for review by y date. Share final draft for review by z date.

  5. Deliverables - Explain what the deliverables are - The actual product or service you’re delivering. This includes testing it for quality, revisions and review, and any other key areas. E.g. You will receive four articles, each of 700 words that will be reviewed and agreed between us.

  6. Specialist areas - Depending on the type of work you’re doing, you might want to add other areas to the document. E.g. branding instructions, intended audience, etc.

  7. Other areas - If there are other guidelines, documents, or other important information, reference them in the briefing document.


Agreeing and sharing your scope document with the client

I’ve found the best way to create a scope document is to have a call with the client and ask them all the relevant questions. You can then capture them, transfer them into the scope document and share it for review.

Another way to do this is to ask them questions in an email or ask them to fill in a Google Doc. These methods are less reliable and don’t let you focus on interesting areas, so a call is still the best approach.

Once you’ve documented everything, send the scope document to your client for review and ask for any amends or changes.


Using the scope document to guide your work

Once the document is in place, use it as the basis of the work you’re doing.



With a little practice, creating scope documents becomes second nature. You’ll soon rely on them as a good resource for making everything clear, working to common objectives, and keeping your client happy.




Paul Maplesden is a freelance writer, specializing in business, finance, and technology.