Man Working On Filler Content

Filler Content – How to Recognize and Avoid It

Content writers know what it means to have encroaching deadlines and (often) high word count quotas to meet. It doesn’t take much to resort to writing filler content and fluff just to get the job done.

You can certainly find writers who can do a decent job despite writing fluffy sentences or going off on tangents. But in this industry, the difference between decent and excellent content can make or break your business.

Today we’ll explore what it means to use filler text and what drives writers to create meaningless content. For those who care about improving their writing skills, we’ll also leave some actionable advice on how to recognize empty content and how to go about correcting it.

How to Recognize Filler Content?

It’s not that difficult to spot filler content, even for an untrained eye. Filler content (or filler words) is all the text that doesn’t provide any additional value to the reader. It’s either completely unrelated to the topic of the article or too wordy to be of any value.

You must have read at least one blog post where the writer seemed to wander off on a tangent that led nowhere. It’s possible that it happened by accident, but the more likely scenario involves a panicking writer who’s stuffing word salad just because a deadline is around the corner.

Filler content doesn’t have to involve long and winding passages that don’t have a point to make. Stating the obvious (e.g. explaining what a website is in an article about SEO) or overloading sentences with pointless adverbs or adjectives (e.g. “amazing and incredible products”) makes the content less useful.

The readers will notice the fluff and immediately doubt the writer’s intentions.

Why Do Content Writers Resort to Filler?

So far, we’ve blamed word counts and deadlines for the lack of quality content. But the real reason is, of course, a lack of organization on the writer’s part.

Many a writer falls into the trap of underestimating the task while overestimating their ability to churn out quality content. The longer you postpone the task of writing an article, the less time you’ll have to do it right. Once the deadline is finally at your doorstep, all you can do is replace the quality with quantity.

Besides lacking the necessary time management skills, some writers will ignore the importance of planning ahead. Organizing and structuring the article before writing a single word of it ensures the writer has a thread to follow. They won’t digress or lose sight of the article’s main focal point.

Avoiding Filler Text

Now that it’s clear why filler text happens in the first place, let’s look into a couple of writing tips that will help your content stay relevant, compelling, and fluff-free.

Do the Research

First and foremost, if you don’t understand the topic you’re writing about, it’s impossible to avoid filler content.

You’ll be using a lot of filler to make up for the lack of knowledge on any given subject. Before you even start writing, look into all the readily available information online. Familiarize yourself with the topic before writing, and you’ll be able to describe it in a meaningful way.

Stay Away from Passive Voice

Using passive voice muddies the waters around the piece you’re working on. It’s unappealing to read, easy to lose track of, and downright unnatural. That’s not how people usually communicate.

Instead, rely on active voice to cut to the chase — say who’s doing what and the results of it. Active sentences are often shorter than their passive counterparts and yet they still manage to convey the same amount of information to the reader. 

Moreover, active voice eliminates much of the ambiguity that passive sentences cause.

Keep the Jargon out of It

One way to pump a text full of fluff is to write using complex and meaningless jargon.

Always keep in mind that your audience likely consists of people who won’t understand overly technical jargon. Even if you’re just laying out the facts, it will look like fluff to anyone who doesn’t have very extensive and intimate knowledge of the subject matter.

Do your best to explain complex systems and behaviors in a simple, down-to-earth language. That’s a much greater challenge than just stringing jargon together and calling it an article.

Vary Your Word Choice

Writing monotonous sentences that all begin with the same word or a phrase is the polar opposite of using jargon.

While it’s technically not fluff, constantly using a small word pool has the same effect on the readers as filler text — they get bored out of their minds and leave.

It’s alright to face writer’s block and seemingly forget that other words exist. However, the internet is your ally, so use it to find synonyms, antonyms, and phrases that you can use to replace repetitive parts of the text.

Use pronouns to avoid repeating proper nouns and give your subjects more variety.

Shorten the Sentences

Writers who are on tight schedules and prone to writing fluff love to overextend their sentences.

One of the simplest ways to write filler text is to keep going on and on about meaningless information in a single sentence. Beginning a new sentence requires more effort. You need to figure out how to attach it to the previous sentence both semantically and syntactically.

It’s much easier to just keep stuffing one sentence until it’s almost the size of a short paragraph. If you catch yourself writing long sentences, stop for a moment and think about all the information you’re providing. Is it meaningful? Does it add value? Will it connect naturally to the next point you’ll try to make?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you’re artificially boosting the word count.

The same is true for paragraphs. Walls of text are confusing and difficult to read. Make sure that each paragraph tells a short story and then end it. Four to five sentences per paragraph are more than enough.

Revise Your Content

If you truly care about avoiding fluff and being as succinct as you can, always revise your content before publishing it.

It’s quite alright to make a mistake in your work or to partake in writing filler by accident. Writers who edit and revise their content will catch such slip-ups and handle them. If you don’t revise your content, you’ll never know if you left some accidental fluff in there.

Be the Best Writer You Can

Striving for perfection in writing is a noble cause. Eliminating filler text is the crucial part of that journey and shows the writer’s commitment to quality over quantity. In writing, less is more, and no amount of words will save an article that’s devoid of all meaning.

Do the research, stay focused, and manage your time properly to rid your writing of fluff and become the best writer you can be.

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