So I’ve done all the formatting tips and tricks: 11 pt Arial, 12 pt line spacing, half inch margins, hyphenate, and the damn Specific Aims are still 6 lines too long. Yep you guessed it, it’s grant writing time!! It’s time to start removing superfluous sentences and excess verbiage. Yet the message still has to come across clearly, and not sound like it was written by some soulless robot. The main points have to be crystal clear, guiding the reviewer through your message, not leaving the slightest doubt in his or her mind that your grant is the coolest thing since Kool-Aid and that they can’t wait to defend it tooth and claw from the other bloodthirsty dawgs at study-section. That your grant is sooo hip and exciting, that funding it would be a blow to evildoers worldwide.
Back when I was in college I took a bunch of courses from a certain trendy department in my school. One standard that was applied for courses from this department was that all class assignments had to fit into one single-spaced page, with half inch margins and 10-point font. Apparently they claimed that this was a way for us to crystallize our understanding of the difficult concepts discussed in class. To cut the verbiage and random regurgitation of buzzwords and catchphrases. Basically to make you get to the point, and get to it quickly before the professor got bored and gave you a C. Of course, back then we thought it was just collusion on the part of lazy professors that didn’t feel like reading our brilliant expositions on Roland Barthes, Derrida and the jouissance of deconstructing Victorian novels in light of Lacanian poststructuralist theory. I certainly wouldn’t. Yet, I remember getting upset that one page wasn’t enough to get all my original and groundbreaking ideas out there. That learning to fit stuff into one page was a pointless exercise, because when else would I ever, ever need to do this again?