By Length:
Often professors dictate a certain length for term papers, usually a minimum number of pages. There are several ways to BS this length.

1. By changing your spacing from double spaced to 2.1 spacing. The differences is indistinguishable to the human eye. However, every 10th line that you type you get an extra line you don’t have to write compared to only double spaced.
2. By changing your font size from 12 to 13. This is a bit more risky, because this is more noticeable. The reason for doing this is the same as above there is less you have to write to meet the minimum number of pages.
3. By changing the margins. This works much like changing your spacing. By changing it only slightly it is undetectable, but still reduces that amount of content you need to write.

By Length Advanced:
Some professors have caught on to the above BS methods and now dictate not only a minimum length but a font, and spacing as well. When this is the case BS must switch from simple length to advanced length BS.

1. Never use contractions. “couldn’t” takes up less space than “could not.” While this only adds a single extra typed character over the course of a complete paper it can add up.
2. Make sure that all paragraphs end with a sentence that goes over to a new line but one or two words. This is done, so that when you hit return for a new paragraph the rest of that line is left blank is unneeded to be filled.
3. Try to use “big words”. This serves two functions. One, it makes your professor think you have a larger vocabulary than you do. Two, big words are often just that big. Thus they take up more space then smaller words that might mean the same thing.

By Content:
Sometimes you have to write a paper the day before it’s due, or you never just read the book, or have done no reach. This requires the risky kind of BS; BSing by content. Many of the methods below are simple suggestions, good content BS is an art form.

1. Writing from the Cliff Notes or movie. Who really has time to read all of Hamlet? The Cliff Notes and the movies are good quick substitutes.
2. Make up facts. 72% of statistics are made up on the spot anyway. No professor realistic has time to check all of your facts you quote.
3. Make up sources for your made up facts. An imaginary source always seems to have just the fact or saying your looking for.
Here are more suggestions. These are tried and true and have helped me out in times of sheer and utter "I can't believe I waited this long" panic.

Just remember, if you choose to BS your term paper, you may not really learn anything except for how to BS your way through life. This is very useful in some occupations, and quite detrimental in others. Think long-term.

1. Use Courier instead of Times New Roman for your font. Unless the syllabus for your course specifically defines a font to use on your papers, your professors will usually accept a monospaced font as well as a variable-width font. Courier is bigger. It can make a 13 page paper into a 15 page paper.

2. Be redundant without being obvious. In the tip above, the phrase "on your papers" was completely unneccessary. But it added three words, and if your paper has to be x amount of words, three here and three there will add up.

3. Skim. If you don't have the time to read all of your primary source and all the secondary sources, skim the research to find quotes that could support your thesis. Write them down. Use them. Do not overload your paper with quotes, but it shows that you used your sources (in the cheapest sense of the word "use") and each sentence that someone else wrote is one less sentence of your own original thought. Parenthetical documentation also takes up more space than footnotes. In fact, it is now recommended in the MLA handbook that parenthetical documentation be used. Good for you.

4. Do your research first. Can't think of a thesis to write about? Check out some books in the library and see what everyone else had to say first. Instead of having your research support your thesis, have your thesis support your research. Get some quotes from some critics that are interesting that, when combined with one another, can form a thesis for you, or a focus on your paper, such as the role of machismo in Latin American literature, or what Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought of the idea of democracy.

If the topic for your paper is open to any subject, you can do what I did in ninth grade.

We had to write a paper that was three measley pages long. Unfortunately, this was before the days of word processors in every living room (1977, to be exact). My English teacher was always pushing for me to write about better items than comic books and (ugh!) science fiction. I decided to go for science and fiction at the same time.

My paper was about the effects of the solar atmosphere on lyman alpha radiation waves. My sources were some technical astronomy papers and some 1960's Sky and Telescope magazines. I fit so much technical jargon into it (and some jargon I made up on the spot), that she couldn't read it at all. She couldn't even find 40% of the words I used (only time I used the archaic term whilom in a paper).

She took the paper over to the science teacher, but he said that he heard of some of the terms before, but it was way over his head. She gave me a 99 on it because she thought I mis-spelled Ignoxigatiative wrong. I challenged her to prove that, and she couldn't because I made it up. It was the only 100% paper she gave out that year ("because there is no such thing as a perfect paper").

The moral of this story? Screw morals, if you can't beat them, baffle them with bullshit. She made sure to give us a topic after that fiasco, but I was good at misconstruing her ideas. Writing a comparative analysis of Gilgamesh became how Gilgamesh was like Spider-Man.

She retired at the end of that school year.

If you're free as to content, here's some quick ideas that don't require too much exposition...and will probably keep you from boring both yourself and the teacher...

One of my favorite ploys: be a contrarian. You don't have to believe in any of this, as long as you can argue these points. Your peers aren't reading the paper, nor are your parents. So take your arguments with your parents, and turn them on their head!

If you want to talk about Alice in Wonderland, remember that your instructor has read every possible slang variation on the phrase “acute drug psychosis”. Instead, mention that most people might have believed that Carroll was a habitué of then-not-illegal recreational substances, but this was in no way in fact the case. (Extra style points for this not being your thesis statement, however. Since people have seen in Alice everything from a critique of Non-Euclidean geometry to Victorian notions of toilet training, you’re pretty much free to make something up.) 

Here’s another: Cleopatra was not “Black”, in that her family tree was largely, if not entirely, Macedonian Greek. From there, you can talk about the Fayyum Portraits, the Hellenic Greek Empire, and loads of other stuff you can’t get on the History Channel. However, you can also go the other route, and wonder at exactly what "black" and "white" mean outside of the narrow sphere of the American South, where Black means "from a small group of Benin tribes" and White means "Irish, or Ulster Scots".

The Bible is just too easy. Which means you can up the bar, with any resource that doesn’t deal with NIV. Don’t play the card that “since this proves the Bible is wrong in this particular case, we can throw it out the window”, even though that’s how you might feel. Depict David and Jonathan as gay lovers, and make a study of Biblical sex practices, from temple prostitution to polygamy. Make the point that since the Bible depicts a world that’s so violent that our own is amazingly peaceful in comparison… Failing that, disprove Revelations. Point out that The Beast of the Apocalypse was the Emperor Nero, and anything that it might have referred to is long over.

Saying something new about witches is easy-peasy, as long as you actually read an historic grimoire, and stick to established facts (as in, from a history book, not a Llewellyn book). The Witch and the Neighbors is a good one. Avoid the common mistake of saying witch trials were a feature of the Middle Ages, and condemned by the Inquisition: actually they were at their worst when the Catholic Church was at its weakest, during the Protestant Reformation, and were instigated by neighbors of the witches involved (the Inquisition was mostly about Jews in Spain). Oh, and by the way, it was Giordano Bruno who was killed, not Galileo. Galileo got put into house arrest, not for being a Copernican, but for being a wiseass to the Pope. (Not a good career move.) If you truly feel like a good BBQ of sacred cow, question Goddess worship as anything other than a hypothetical construct of German Romantics, and point out that all we know about Norse mythology was written by monks.

Snopes is your friend, along with the Skeptical Inquirer. Inflate the opposition's statements: Catherine the Great did not keep a stable of "loving stallions" (but was a victim of of a smear campaign against an effective female ruler). Emphasize the beauty of Nostradamus's “twin lions” quatrain, but point out that in his symbol system, there’s no united Italy, no New World, and no Asia, outside of the Ottoman Empire.  

Go with the underdog: Bruno, de Sade, Alester Crowley, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary. Nikola Tesla’s autobiography is easy and fun to read, and he’s good at explaining his discoveries. The late Julian Simon has a plethora of fun facts to play with. Find fault with some fashion among your peers, suggest that Madonna was overhyped, and not a "serious artist", complain that movies based on comic books are vapid and shallow (whether this is a disservice to comic books, or to film is your call, however). If you can write, even semi-literately, about Fanny Hill, the Satyricon (not a bad movie...either), or Lysistrata, you can be sure of getting a good grade, if only because of your sheer nerve.

 The point is not to toady to GrownUps, but to suggest  that you’re different enough from your peers that you might actually have a few original thoughts. Hey, if it worked for William F. Buckley….

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.