What is filler and how can we avoid it?

One of the biggest challenges for writers and editors when it comes to producing genuinely informative, valuable, high-quality content is to cut out anything that could be considered “filler” – but what exactly is filler and how do we filter it out? Here’s our quick guide.

It’s best to think of your article as a structured piece, with a coherent beginning, middle and end. Every article should have a fundamental argument or point, which progresses throughout the piece and is finally proved to your reader in the conclusion. Every sentence in your article should contribute to your main argument or thread.

Filler can be defined as any sentence or phrase that:

  • Doesn’t contribute to your overall argument
  • Doesn’t inform the reader
  • Dilutes your argument or makes your overall meaning less clear
  • States the obvious
  • Repeats an earlier point

Examples of filler

Filler can take many forms. In a product description, it might be a sentence which doesn’t convey any useful information to the reader. For example:

“Our online clothing store sells trousers in a variety of sizes and colours to suit women of all shapes.” – This would be classed as filler because it states the obvious (declaring that a clothing site sells different sizes) and also because it’s vague and doesn’t deliver any concrete information.

In a longer article piece, filler might be a sentence which is unnecessary or over-generalised and states the obvious, reducing the impact of the argument. For example:

“Spring is here once again – flowers are blooming, blossom is appearing on the trees, and it’s getting warmer. This means that it’s time to start updating our wardrobes.” – This would be classed as filler because it states the obvious (explaining the process of spring) and reduces the impact of the argument, because the fundamental point about ‘updating our wardrobes’ is delayed.

To avoid filler, ask yourself:

  • Does this sentence tell the reader anything new?
  • Does this sentence contribute to my overall argument?
  • Would my article read just as well without this sentence?
  • Does my article, as a whole, appear coherent and convincing?

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