Most low- and middle-income countries face financing pressures if they are to adequately address the recommendations of the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescent's Health. Negotiations between government ministries of health and finance are a key determinant of the level and effectiveness of public expenditure in the health sector. Yet ministries of health in low- and middle-income countries do not always have a good record in obtaining additional resources from key decision-making institutions. This is despite the strong evidence about the affordability and cost-effectiveness of many public health interventions and of the economic returns of investing in health. This article sets out 10 attributes of effective budget requests that can address the analytical needs and perspectives of ministries of finance and other financial decision-makers. We developed the list based on accepted economic principles, a literature review and a workshop in June 2015 involving government officials and other key stakeholders from low- and middle-income countries. The aim is to support ministries of health to present a more strategic and compelling plan for investments in the health of women, children and adolescents.