How to waffle an essay: Lessons from Stephen Toope’s emails

I toope this guide finds you well in these challenging and uncertain times

We’ve all been there. Sitting all alone, late at night with only the glow of your computer for company, and a thousand words left to go. At this point, the sentences bore you before they even hit the page, and your cold coffee is doing nothing except increasing your risk of heart failure. It’s a good thing that only one (equally bored) person will actually read this rubbish before it’s buried forever.

Fortunately, in the spirit of academic rigour, VC Toope has kindly provided us with exemplar waffle content for precisely this situation, sneakily disguised as ‘daily updates’ – Toope form.

Toope’s Top Tip 1: A generic introduction

Toope recommends using the phrases ‘difficult times’ and ‘unprecedented situation’ a lot here, in contrast to their standard usage (scribbled in the margin of the essay, along with a rushed apology about the quality of your work). It’s up to you, but whatever you do, remember the introduction is the most ‘important’ part as most people will stop reading here.

In my experience, a generic introduction is also the key to romantic success.


Toope’s Top Tip 2: Subsections. So many subsections

Perfect for when you can’t be arsed to slide smoothly into your next point. (Yes, I do see the irony. Sue me) Extra points will be given if you use three identical subheadings to waste space break up your long, tedious argument. This allows you to get away with the next tip:

Toope’s Top Tip 3: Repeat yourself

If you’ve written something decent in a previous piece of work, just bung it in here. No-one will notice, because they’ll be so blown away by the sheer decentness of the thing.

If you’ve written something decent in the previous subsection, just bung it in here. No-one will notice, because no-one reads more than one subsection.

If you’ve written something decent in the previous sentence, just bung it in here. No-one will notice, because nobody’s still reading.

Other public figures have been taking notes from Toope’s guides. What does Brexit mean again?                                                                   (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore Flickr, Creative Commons License)

Toope’s Top Tip 4: Dodge the sticky bits of the question

Online yoga welfare walk vlog? Easy. Hit them with the deets. Facts, figures, names, dates. Throw the whole damn Wikipedia page at them.

Detailed exam arrangements? The significance of this obscure poem written anonymously in 1752? Anything to do with living expenses? These questions are very good questions, very pressing questions, and fundamental to the wider question as a whole. I will, therefore, answer these questions at a later date.

Do not answer these questions at a later date. It’s too difficult and you’ll get criticised however you do it. Try to bury your lack of substance in the Online Yoga Welfare Walk Vlog. You might take a small hit on supervisorbridge but it’s ok because it’s 4am and you’re sooo tiredddsfd.

Toope’s Top Tip 5: Repeat yourself.

See what I did there.

Toope’s Top Tip 6: Ridiculously overoptimistic conclusion

So hey. You didn’t really answer the question. But here’s your chance to pretend you did. Hit them with the old ‘cheating will be prevented by making cheating against the rules’, or ‘student welfare is our top priority and by the way, have you seen the exam arrangements for VetMed and friends?’. Works every time.


Thankfully, the university has ruled out allowing us to cheat in these exams.                                     (Photo credit: Lysanne Larose)


Toope’s Top Tip 7: Do it all with a heart of gold

Sure, your work isn’t exactly going to get a place in the history books. It might not even keep its place in your reader’s inbox. But nobody wants to be in this situation – it’s showing you care that counts. So keep that word counter rolling, and above all, please keep safe in these strange and uncertain times. I am, of course, referring to the library at 4.32 am.


*According to Matt Penner


Featured Image Credit: TheCulinaryGeek, Creative Commons License, (Changes made)