How to write the WORST paper ever ... (It’s worse with a dumb font.) by Mark J. Boone, edited by UWC staff (© DBU University Writing Center) What this presentation is all about . . . DBU students deserve to know how to write as badly as possible. With this in mind, the DBU Writing Center arranged for this convenient summary of useful tips for writing horrible, terrible, nightmarishly monstrous, hideous, disastrous, and possibly even overly embellished papers. The following tips will help you write the worst possible paper . . . Firstly, be sure to format incorrectly . . . One-inch margins are pretty standard, so don’t use those. Use unacceptable fonts, like blades and wingdings. Don’t use Times New Roman, because this is always a good font. Fonts like Courier New and Arial don’t go very far towards bad writing, but you might still be able to lose points with a few professors by using these fonts. Consider using bad spacing; single-space because this is almost never a good thing. Make your paper longer with triple-spacing, because professors are certain to notice this and get really angry! Or, be sneaky and use 2.2 spacing and find out how observant they really are! Oh, and Strong Bad’s advice will also ruin your paper. Make poor use of your computer . . . Don’t use spell-check! If you do use spell-check, assume it knows when you spelled the wrong word correctly! Pretend that a computer can actually be taught grammar, and let the grammar-check make all your corrections! This is a sure-fire way to have at least a few instances of bad grammar because the computer’s grammar-check is often wrong. Putting too much trust in the computer is a surefire way to write a really bad paper! Be careless with your grammar . . . Commas! – Use comma splicing; connect as many complete sentences as possible with a puny little comma instead of the stronger semicolon. – Use unnecessary commas every now and then, or whenever you feel like it! Unnecessary commas are especially painful when professors see them hanging around between a subject and its verb! – Leave out necessary commas! Say “January 4, 2001 was a good day” instead of “January 4, 2001, was a good day.” Also leave out the second comma in “Dallas, TX, is a nice place,” and “Martin Luther King, Jr., was a good man.” This is very useful for aggravating certain Writing Center employees. Be more careless with your grammar . . . Incomplete sentences are wonderful when you’re trying to write badly! To use incomplete sentences, be sure not to proofread your paper while looking out for incomplete thoughts; don’t check to make sure you have a subject and a verb in every sentence. Make your sentences as long as possible because overly long sentences can be really annoying to professors and to Writing Center staff, and can be at least as bad as having only short sentences because they represent poor writing style and they also represent an inability to divide your thoughts into different sentences and they also show that you can’t put your thoughts into concise statements but can only talk on and on and on about something that could have been said very quickly and still have meant the same stupid thing. Run-on sentences are usually fused sentences they go straight into a new sentence without so much as a lowly semicolon these can really mess up your writing. Be still more careless with your grammar . . . Don’t let your English professors or the Writing Center help you learn the difference between objective and subjective pronouns! For instance, don’t learn that who is a subjective pronoun to be used as a subject or a predicate nominative (Who would have known that?) and that whom is an objective pronoun (From whom came such an annoying rule, and whom will I tick off if I break it?). Prepositions are better left dangled. Keep them at the end of the sentence. See how dumb it sounds if I say to keep prepositions “the end at the sentence of”? See how sophisticated I sound when I say, “To whom have I the honor of speaking?”? You really don’t want to sound sophisticated in your writing, do you? No, of course you want to sound unsophisticated; not only will this keep your grades low, but it will also help you not get a good, high-paying job! Be absurdly careless with your grammar . . . Using those things with unclear antecedents can really cause a lot of confusion. Are you confused? I hope so. (I was talking about pronouns). It’s also fun to have your pronouns disagree in number with their antecedents. Each professor pulls their hair when a student forgets their agreement rules. Subjects and verbs needs to disagree if you wants a bad paper. Subject-verb disagreement is really a wonderful way to write carelessly. Spelling . . . Like we said, don’t use spell-check and if you do, expect it to know when you spelled the wrong word correctly! Mistakes are easy to make if you don’t learn how to spell homonyms! You could try picking just one spelling of words like “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” and then being consistent. Vocabulary . . . Don’t use a thesaurus! This is too valuable a resource to have near you when you’re writing bad papers! Use the adverb ‘very’ very, very, very often because it will pad your paper a little bit. Ambiguous words are always good. Don’t be precise in your language; you want your reader to read till the end of your paper and not know what you were saying. Proofreading . . . Don’t proofread silently to catch your mistakes! Don’t read your paper out loud in front of a mirror! If you do, you might realize you don’t like something about the way you wrote it! When you write something down and then read it sometimes you see what you meant to write and can’t see what you actually wrote. Don’t let your friends proofread to make up for this problem! Most importantly, don’t start on your paper early enough to have any time left for proofreading! Procrastination . . . This is the single most important thing you can do to make your paper pathetic. Skilled procrastinators have been known to write things as pathetic as this presentation is! Good papers need to be started early, so that you have plenty of time to make corrections and thoroughly mull over your thoughts, as well as enough time to go over your paper with peers and make corrections on the problems they find. So be sure to never start earlier than you think you might need to, and especially don’t start on time! Wait until an hour before the paper is due before you take it to the Writing Center for help; don’t go in time to get advice from the Writing Center and still make corrections! Develop key long-term habits . . . The single most important thing you can do to be a bad writer is to read good books and quality magazines as little as possible. Also, be sure to mistake the Writing Center for an editing and proof-reading service, useful for bringing up your grade on a few papers! You can especially multiply and perpetuate key grammatical errors if you don’t use your local Writing Center for as a valuable source for teaching you useful grammar rules. Plagiarize . . . An easy way to plagiarize is to just write your paper and do some research and never know that you’re supposed to use quotation marks and to follow the instructions at our website for citing things correctly in MLA or Turabian or APA! This sort of thing could get you a 0% on a paper. Let other people do your writing for you! Take their whole paper and call it your own! This is such a great way to write a bad paper that you can get expelled from school by doing this! Steal ideas from others without giving credit, just like how the guy who wrote up most of this PowerPoint shamelessly stole ideas from all his co-workers without thanking them even once. (Jerk.) It’s always useful for writing bad papers to never learn that anything that’s not your knowledge or common knowledge has to be cited. Poor thesis . . . Be sure to have an unclear thesis statement. Don’t think critically about your own ideas. Confuse the purpose of the introduction and conclusion. Forget that the introduction is really meant to do three things: catch the reader’s attention, introduce the topic, and present the thesis statement. Forget that the conclusion’s purpose is to restate the thesis and bring some kind of closure without adding any new information. Develop a thesis statement and don’t talk about it at all. This will make your paper disorganized. Poor thesis . . . There are two basic strategies for making the thesis and the paper say the same thing. One way is to start with a thesis statement in your introduction and then be careful to talk about the same thing in the body of your paper. The other way is to write the body of the paper and then to go back to your introduction and make sure the thesis statement says the same thing. Of course you can mix them by writing the thesis statement, trying to follow it in the body, and then going back to the introduction and modifying the thesis. If you’re trying to write a bad paper, don’t do either! General tips for poor writing . . . Try to talk in first person as much as possible because this is usually considered a bad thing in academic writing. Try to write the paper so only you know what you’re talking about, and the reader doesn’t have a clue! Never consider the audience and their needs because the paper is all about you. Most importantly, avoid asking the professor what to do when you’re not sure how to go about doing something. (Oh, and: never consult the class syllabus or the Writing Center.).