minutia press.
Format checks

Having discovered how best to bribe me, I had dinner with Ben and James (James, where did your weblog go?), somehow the issue of thesis format-check came up.

Every university I've been around seems to have at least one person who does a format-check of deposited theses, to make sure that margins are not encroached, that figures are appropriately titled, and that the quota of gerunds is not exceeded. My advice for years has been for students to leave one egegious flaw so the format-checker can do his or her job with dispatch and without dire consequences on the thesis.

But lately, most students use macro packages or templates that are essentially blessed to create a format-ready thesis. It's getting harder and harder to give the format checker somthing to chew on. So I started wondering what would happen if famous authors submitted theses to our university. Here are a few examples.

e e cummings
mr. cummings, do you mind if I call you e? 'm sorry, mr. cummings, but your thesis seems to have no capital letters in it whatsoever. You seem to have the inverse problem of the dreaded Caps Lock Syndrome. We cannot accept a thesis devoid of capital letters. Please try to put at least one in per sentence. And watch that margin, it's 12 Angstroms too small.

William Faulkner
Mr. Faulkner, what are you trying to pull? I've read the first five pages and have yet to see any punctuation. I can't seem to find it in our rules, but I'm sure there is something wrong with a thesis that contains 10-page sentences.

William Shakespeare
Bill, I like what you write, though I must say it looks familiar: did you use Francis Bacon's template? In any case, thesis rules state that all logic formulae must be reduced to their simplest terms. You write:

To be or not to be

and as every CS201 student knows that formula reduces to true .

J.K. Rowling
Ms. Rowling, do you mind if I call you J? K, it looks to me like your work is a little incomplete. I see the first 4 chapters, but it looks like the last 3 are missing. I know you've been distracted with the multimillions you are making on those movies, but you cannot pass format check without all chapters complete.


I don't know if you have noticed, but by weblog seems to follow the e e cummings format. But I think that for my thesis, that follow the Yoda format I will.

Posted by: Brodie at November 18, 2002 2:49 PM

Unfortunately the Word of Ouida has already been handed down in the form of an email message this afternoon: Thou Shalt Not Submit Incomplete Theses. Therefore Ms. Rowling won't be able to graduate for, at this rate, about 10 years.

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at November 19, 2002 3:53 PM