Yesterday my first homework assignment of the semester was due in my Linguistics class, but things certainly could have gone smoother.
Though I met with a group of classmates on Sunday afternoon to discuss the assignment, and knew what I was going to write, I didn’t actually start typing up my responses until it was so late Monday evening that it was very nearly Tuesday.
All along I knew there was a 5 page limit on how long our submissions could be, but I honestly didn’t think there’d be a problem. I merrily tapped out my responses, and by the time I finished around 6:30 am (What can I say, I’m easily distracted! At 4 am, for example, I decided I wanted some new playlists for my iPod and spent an hour playing with that…), I had about 4.9 pages.
“Perfect,” I thought.
However, I was a little tired to proof-read my submission, and because the assignment was due at 11 am sharp, I decided to print a copy and go to bed, and proof-read and print again if I had time in the morning.
But when I grabbed the printed pages from the printer, something looked funny. I looked closer, and realized that it was single spaced.
I’d written 5 pages single spaced for an assignment with a length limit of 5 pages double spaced.
You do the math.
I never write papers in Word. Normally I use a LaTeX template that I’ve developed over the years to write papers with. That template defines all of my fonts and spacing and I just have to fill in the paragraphs and TeX does the rest for me. But for some reason, when I started this assignment, I thought using Word would be a good idea. It never occurred to me that Word was a WYSIWYG editor beyond the part where I was using it to visually determine how many pages I’d written. The last time I used a WYSYWYG editor to write a paper, I was in High School.
So it was still 6:30 am, and I was still too tired to care, so I tossed the single spaced copy in my backpback just in case and went to bed. I woke up at 9 am, and spent the next hour and a half doing my damndest, and the best I could manage was 5 pages at 1.5 space with an 11 point font.
I decided that that would have to do, printed again, and headed off to class. I walked into the lecture hall and up to the podium where the assignments were being stacked, and saw that Professor Lakoff was looking at the top paper on the stack. In fact, it looked like he was reading it. I hesitated about dropping my paper onto the pile, and he sensed my presence and looked up at me.
I quickly lowered my eyes and dropped my paper onto the pile and took a seat near the back.
I hesitated not because I was worried about Lakoff reading what I’d written, but because the print on my assignment was so much denser than that paper that was on the top of the stack. If I’d dropped my paper in front of his nose, the contrast in the density of the text would have been immediately obvious. He would have to be blind not to notice that my paper wasn’t double spaced and that my font was smaller.