If you’ve been away from academia for a few years, you may have forgotten how to write in a way that’s suitable for higher education. Not to worry, though. With just a few steps, you can transform your writing into a bloated, confusing, impenetrable slog. Don’t believe me? Let’s workshop a sentence together. This will be our starting point:

Susan ran outside and tripped.

It’s simple, clear, and totally unambiguous. That’s not going to cut it in higher ed. Let’s rework it.

STEP 1: If you have active verbs that make your sentence interesting, nominalize them. “Ran” will become “the running” and “tripped” will become “the tripping.”

STEP 2: Use tautology. Make sure the sentence says the same thing twice. Susan’s running outside that caused the tripping preceded the tripping that was caused by the running.

STEP 3: If you have a common word like “outside,” find a synonym. Instead of Susan’s running outside, why not make it Susan’s exterior running?

STEP 4: To replace the verbs you’ve nominalized, take other parts of speech and turn them into verbs. Actually, “exterior” is a pretty cool word. Think it has to be an adjective? Not anymore. “Exteriorize”—boom! It’s a verb now.

STEP 5: In order to make a word like “exteriorize” work as a verb, you need to give it a subject. When in doubt, you can always use the noun “space.” The space exteriorized … Wait, that doesn’t work. Let’s add another step:

STEP 6: Passive voice. The space was exteriorized by … (see Step 2). The space was exteriorized by its non-interiority. Perfect. All we have to do is throw a “that” in there somewhere to tack it onto the sentence.

STEP 7: Include the word “problematic” (as a noun). What’s “the problematic” here? Susan’s running.

STEP 8: If you’ve followed all of the above steps and find that something’s grammatically missing, throw in a “vis-à-vis.” It’s like the superglue of language. It can tie anything together.

Okay, I think we’re all done. Now let’s compare. This was our original sentence:

Susan ran outside and tripped.

And now, we have this masterpiece:

The problematic of Susan’s running vis-à-vis the space that was exteriorized by its non-interiority that caused the tripping preceded the tripping that was caused by the running.

Congratulations! You’re ready for grad school.