Brevity, it’s true, has never been my strength – not when it comes to writing.
In 1999, while in university studying ecology, I had one particular class that came with very specific instructions regarding the format for our laboratory reports. They were as follows:
- Times New Roman font
- 12 point font size
- 1-inch margins
- 6 complete pages
For most of my classmates, the problem was always managing to fill the entire six pages. They would contrive all sorts of strategies: big, blocky tables; subheadings with spaced-out titles; a blank line above the page numbers.
Me – I had the opposite problem: I always needed just a little more room.
So, I contrived a strategy of my own.
This was in the early years of Windows-based word processing programs (as opposed to DOS-based), and a time when Microsoft Word had started gaining greater market share than its rival, Corel WordPerfect.
I’d been a loyal WordPerfect user since its white-on-blue-screened DOS iteration of 1993 (full disclosure: I still WordPerfect) despite the university being a Microsoft-centric campus. I thus had both WordPerfect and Word on my 1999 computer.
And I chanced upon a discovery: WordPerfect permitted fractional font sizes, while, at that time, Word did not. That meant that using WordPerfect, I could shrink my font size to 11.8 point (which showed little visual difference from 12 point), and subsequently gain about 3 extra lines of text.
I did this on every single lab report.
I’ve mentioned in one of my earliest posts that I possess what I refer to as the “verbosity gene”, which often leads me to write things twice as long as they’re meant to be. Exhibit A: My novel-in-progress is actually a novel in two volumes.
Exhibit B: My blog posts.
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