Dear NSF Applicant

Dear NSF applicant,

You have not realized your true potential to be a ruthless, blood-thirsty editor until you’ve faced the need to still cut 1/2 a page from your NSF proposals after:  

  • You’d already reworded the holy hell out of every sentence, in order to avoid dangling segments that leave a precious half a line empty
  • Your technical prose had already been purged of excess and is now as dry as a last year’s prune that’s currently on vacation in Sahara
  • All the images had been shrunk beyond the point at which a panelist will start swearing at you loudly, if you are so unfortunate to get one who still prints out assigned proposals
  • Line spacing had been reduced to boldly challenge the NSF requirement for no more than six lines of text per inch, by denouncing typographical stereotypes and seeking to re-examine long-accepted answers to deep, important questions, such as  “How many is six?” and “How long is an inch?”

This, dear applicant, is when you realize that something’s got to give… And that something is never NSF.

You reach into yourself and find the ability to cut more and deeper than you’d ever dreamt possible… Only to realize that you still have 1/3 of a page to go.


  1. Not just NSF, probably every grant agency here in Europe. Some UK ones even have a limit in characters, not words or pages. Using twitter is a great practice for this.

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