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How to Finish That Paper

Ok. So you’ve spent the last six hours writing that ten page final paper for your Comparative Literature class, only to realize that, in fact, you’ve written just under nine pages… What’s a sleep-deprived undergrad to do? Well, you could write more and reach the page requirement, but that might result in adding fluff to a concise paper, ruining your master work. You could just hand it in as is, but, to me at least, there is a lingering sensation of inadequacy and failure if I don’t fulfull the requirements of the assignment. So, what are your options? There are quite a few things you can do to lengthen your paper, all without writing anymore about the thematic similarities between Gothic and Victorian works. The Bwog at Columbia posted a useful idea a few days ago that would save you writers a lot of time.

If you’re writing a paper and need another page or two but have nothing more to say (surely, we can all relate!), you should bump up all the periods to size 14 font. It’s impossible to tell (on the page or printed out) if the paper is double-spaced, and it results in an extra page of text. Right before our eyes, the history paper of a friend grew from 7 to eight and a half pages. It was breathtaking.

To be fair, the length of your original paper determines how many additional pages are created (Really, I suppose, it’s how many periods you use. The ellipsis is your friend…). If you don’t want to go through your paper highlighting period by period, use the “Find” function to find all the periods in your paper. Make sure you have Word highlight all of them.

Then, while they’re highlighted, change the font from 12 to 14. It works wonders

If you don’t want to use that helpful trick, there are a few other things you can do after the jump.

While your prof might have wanted size twelve font, do you think he’ll be able to tell the difference between size twelve and say, size twelve and a half? Can you?

The benefits from this approach should not be underestimated.

For those old-timers out there, the tried and true magical shrinking margin trick is the classic standby. For those purists who only change the borders of their work to achieve the desired lengthening effect, may I suggest changing not only the side margins, but the bottom one as well? To do this, simply go to “Format” and then click on “Document”. This box should appear:

Note the bottom margin default is 1″. Making it larger will move more of your work on to the next sheet of paper. You can safely change this up to 1.5″ before it starts to look altered. The effect of this change will appear minimal initially, but as you write more, the net gain in pages will be significant.

I don’t recommend using more than one of these tricks at the same time because your paper will begin to look awkward. Also, if you find that you need to use more than one of these tactics to reach your page goals, maybe you should get your lazy ass back to writing.

For those dogooders that went over your page limit, you can do the opposite of everything suggested above to get back in your professor’s good graces. He definitely doesn’t want to read fifteen pages when he asked for twelve, especially when he has to grade 100 other papers.

If anyone has any other helpful ideas for paper lengthening, comment below.

About the Author

Eli Glazier

Eli is a junior majoring in International Politics. He enjoys paninis and books.


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