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Cutting down a 30-page paper to 20-ish pages


virginhomicides
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I am applying to PhD programs in English as an undergrad. Part of what that means is, the longest paper I've ever written is only 30 pages, which is making it really tricky to cut it down to 20-ish pages for the sake of my writing sample. I don't really have the option of "excerpting" (I feel like 20 pages of a 30-page paper isn't really an excerpt?). Also, I really just make one major claim in this paper, so I don't really have the option of cutting certain of my claims out and still having a complete argument. I've been able to cut it down to 25 pages (27 including works cited) by cutting one of my short sections that just provides some background information that an admissions committee of an English department will likely already have. So my questions are as follows (any help would be really appreciated, my next app is due in two days and my advisor is MIA):

1. Is 25 pages "approximately 20 pages"? I know this is probably too long.

2. If not, any tips for making an argument that is already very short even shorter for the sake of the writing sample? Cutting paragraphs and using footnotes to give a summary of what they say, maybe? Has anyone ever had to deal with this?

3. How do I indicate the cutting? My thought has been to leave the section headers and then use footnotes, but I have no idea if this is the correct way to go about this as this is my first time having to do something like this. 

4. Any other advice? Maybe I should just give up and use a different paper?

Thanks!

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Parsing one's own writing is difficult. One has to determine what's essential and getting rid of everything else. Focus on cutting, clarifying what you keep, and, as necessary, adding back what you removed.

Consider the following.

156 words

I am applying to PhD programs in English as an undergrad. Part of what that means is, the longest paper I've ever written is only 30 pages, which is making it really tricky to cut it down to 20-ish pages for the sake of my writing sample. I don't really have the option of "excerpting" (I feel like 20 pages of a 30-page paper isn't really an excerpt?). Also, I really just make one major claim in this paper, so I don't really have the option of cutting certain of my claims out and still having a complete argument. I've been able to cut it down to 25 pages (27 including works cited) by cutting one of my short sections that just provides some background information that an admissions committee of an English department will likely already have. So my questions are as follows (any help would be really appreciated, my next app is due in two days and my advisor is MIA):

56 words

I am applying to PhD programs in English. How do I cut a 30 page essay to 20 without excerpting? I make one major claim in this paper, so cutting certain claims out and still having a complete argument is problematic. My deadline is in two days, my advisor is non responsive. I welcome any suggestions.

^This parsing took less than two minutes. You have plenty of time to get under twenty pages. You'll experience a lot of pain, but you can do it.

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