Research funders impose length limits on applications for practical reasons: to discourage epic submissions, and to ease the burden on reviewers. It’s also true that concise ideas are generally stronger ideas. But sticking to these limits can often seem a difficult and frustrating task. Jonathan O’Donnell offers advice to researchers looking to find a little more space in their applications. These range from simple pointers that make for an improved proposal, such as ditching the passive voice and exploiting simple formatting functions, to more desperate moves, such as compressing references lists or resorting to the ampersand.