Friday, December 5, 2014

page padding

I remember high school essay assignments, where I had some outrageous page requirement, like 5 pages, and tried to pick the largest margins and font size I could get away with.

We don't have minimum report lengths in the environmental biz. But some people are still addicted to padding.

I will occasionally receive a PDF with several thousand pages, and everything except the first 15 pages are lab reports and copies of waste manifests, and maybe one appendix that I actually need buried between them.  I've also received documents that have bundled every single reference, intact, within the file itself. Even if said documents are free, stupid easy to find, and gigantic. Like say, this. (or google "ATSDR arsenic" and it's the first hit). In those documents, PDF bookmarks were usually conspicuously absent. And many of those pages are (poorly) scanned photocopies, so the file size is gigantic for the actual information provided.

Storage space is cheap, and we're in the modern era, so opening a 300 MB file of filler doesn't usually crash my computer. And I can strip out the crap that I know I won't need myself. But really, at a time when labs use electronic data deliverables (EDDs), and we can convert practically everything to a PDF directly, and we can easily link to other documents without making a 10,000 page monster file, why do so many reports come out looking like a giant stack of poorly sorted papers?

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