Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Small Print about the Small Print

Dance of Death
The Priest from Hans Holbein's "Dance of Death"(1528).

Today I received an ominous looking email entitled "format problems" from the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On reading it through it appears that my plague grant application has been returned to err, plague me. Sorry. It seems that I have transgressed the rules of formatting and hadn't read the small print about the small print. While I'd used the correct font (boring old Times Roman) in the correct size (11pt), my line spacing was too dense (10pt instead of 11pt). I'd done this to comply with the page limit and made it by about half a page. The good news is that I've been given a week to re-submit. What a hassle. In all my years of submitting applications to NIH, I've never heard of such a thing. And it's not as if I'd reduced the document down to a microdot; it really does look quite normal and is easy on the eye. I can't believe that somebody has been so anal retentive they've actually measured, with a ruler, the number of lines per inch (I submitted hardcopy tree-ware). Oh well, nothing to do but knuckle down and fix it: the one thing I've learned over the years is that government bureaucrats are always right.

Oh, and one more thing. The last person to die of plague in Britain was a Mrs. Bug of Suffolk in 1913. Not many people know that!

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