Everyone’s been there. A paper with a completely arbitrarily page or word length was due in a class. And, of course, you’ve managed to write a coherent and strong argument in 5 pages instead of 7, or 11 pages instead of 15. So, here comes the fudging.
I’ve had friends try to overcome length minimums through all manner of creative workarounds: instead of single spacing after a period, double space; instead of using 12 point font, try to use 12.3 point font. You could always manually change the margins of the paper so that they are invisibly more narrow, adding in another few lines of text. My personal favorite was using footnotes in a paper instead of endnotes or internal citation. It’s both an approved method, and with enough footnotes a page can easily be added to the length of a paper.
All creative solutions aside, the best way to increase the length of a paper in situations like this was just through useless padding. An introduction that could be 4 or 5 sentences would suddenly become half a page. A clear sentence would become reworded into something longer, more along the lines of “The sentence, which was clear, could be rearranged in such a way as to increase its absolute length.”
Ultimately, all page minimums would really do was increase someone’s ability to bullshit while also leading to bad writing habits and overly long, complex sentences.
I just started a job writing at Business Insider for their Military and Defense section. Adapting to the more conversational, though still journalistic, style of BI has been difficult for me. The main problem I face is that I feel almost preconditioned to write in a flowery, bullshit padded academic style. This style just happens to be the enemy of journalistic writing.
Most writing generally deemed to be stronger and better when the author can present the argument clearly and concisely. If that can be done in 5 pages instead of 10, then why insist on the length?