You’ve put off writing an important term paper, which is due tomorrow, so you decide to pull an all-nighter.

The paper is due at 9 a.m. After many hours of slaving away, you read what you’ve written and it’s not bad. However, it’s only six and a half pages. It needs to be a minimum of eight.

The clock is ticking. Try as you might, you can’t come up with another page and a half of things to say.

You are tempted to go on the Internet and copy some stuff and paste it directly into your paper, but that’s dangerous. Colleges now have sophisticated computer programs that compare each student’s paper to that of all the others in the class and can tell in an instant if there are identical sections.

It also searches the vast reaches of the Internet for writing that matches any of yours. Plagiarism can get you an instant failing grade.

What to do? It’s now 7:47 and panic is setting in.

Then you remember a website someone told you about. It’s a writing inflater. You paste your writing in and it spits out a version with added adjectives and adverbs that ups your word count without changing the overall meaning.

You search for “inflate your writing” and bingo, there are several such sites. It’s now after eight o’clock and there’s no time to comparative shop. You pick a site and paste the text of your six-and-a-half-page paper into it. You press a button and, miracle of miracles, your paper grows an extra page and a half.

You print out the new text. At 9 a.m. you hand in your paper, plus you email a copy so your professor can do a plagiarism check.

The following week you get your paper back. It received a B minus, which is much better than you had feared. The professor wrote: “Good work. However, it could have received an A if your writing had been tighter. Learn to write with more precision and ease up on the modifiers.”

There really are sites like the ones I describe in this column. And though they inflate writing to help meet word-count requirements, they weaken it in the process.

Here’s a modest example. I typed in the first verse of Mary Had a Little Lamb. This is what I got back:

“Mary, it is believed, had a lamb that, as anyone could see at first glance, was somewhat small in stature. Contrary to popular belief, its fleece was literally as white as snow, which is quite significant. Every place Mary traveled to, the lamb for all intents and purposes would also go. Basically, it followed her to school one day; which definitely was against a rule that was quite specific in this regard. Its presence made the children laugh uproariously and play in a rambunctious manner when they saw a lamb in attendance at their school.”

Almost twice as long as the original, but not half as pleasing.

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