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Avoid filling phrases and empty phrases: golden rules against texts in abundance

Avoid superfluous and do not use filler phrases: This requirement is standard in almost every briefing, because clients need concise texts on their topics. We'll show you how to avoid filling phrases and empty phrases and how to write high-quality texts! With these tips you will inspire your readers and make your texts worth their weight in gold.

Imagine: You are sitting in the cinema, nibbling on delicious popcorn and dividing it carefully so that you don't end up reaching into the empty bag. You're looking forward to an epic and, above all, entertaining film - but it doesn't take long before you notice that the film is dragging on. It takes forever for the narrator and the protagonist to get to the point. When will the plot finally continue?
The same can happen to readers if a text contains too little information. To avoid this, clients like to write instructions in their briefings, which you have probably stumbled upon: [Please avoid superfluous things in your texts.] [Do not use filler phrases to reach the number of words.] [Take care for varying sentence structures and use synonyms to avoid bulleted sections and repetitive words.]
Avoiding wildcards and generalities is not easy. That is why we have collected the most useful tips for you, with which you can more easily recognize and delete unimportant filler phrases and empty phrases or replace them with valuable information. This is how you inspire your clients and readers - and increase your chances of receiving further assignments.

The most common filler words and empty phrases

The Duden defines filler words and empty phrases as

"Word with little informative value"


"Formulaic, empty phrase"

. These include, for example:

  • Advertising phrases: "It is impossible to imagine life without", "Our innovative company", "We work in a customer-oriented manner", "Welcome to our website", etc.
  • Idioms / phrases: "Who doesn't know that?", "In today's / fast-moving times"
  • Enhancement Particles like "about", "extremely", "something", "completely", etc.
  • / Modal particles or tinting particles like "stop", "maybe", "just", "actually", etc.
  • auxiliary verbs like "can", "should", "have", etc.

We mostly adopt filler words from everyday language usage, i.e. oral speech. They are used to express personal opinions or to either emphasize or weaken the gist of a sentence, for example when one is not sure about what is going on.
On the other hand, empty phrases are more likely to occur if you haven't found a better formulation on the first try and resort to familiar things as a makeshift. That's why we also call them filler phrases. In web texts, this refers to generally applicable phrases that appear in so many advertising texts that they have lost all meaning for the readers. What these phrases express can be better expressed with fewer words or concrete examples.

Say what you mean - that's why you should avoid filling phrases and empty phrases

Sometimes filler words are actually necessary to add variety to your article or to create a certain mood, for example for a casual style. In places they also help you emphasize a statement. You don't have to do without them completely, but you should use them sparingly.
Any irrelevant word obscures the real message of your text. Because too many filler words and empty phrases make sentences seem lengthy and rigid and make them difficult to read. In the worst case, what you actually want to say will be completely wrong - or not at all, because the readers lose interest and don't even finish reading the article. If you find only general advertising phrases instead of helpful information, leave the website and look elsewhere.

Replace empty phrases and convince with the right content


Research and find gripping content

If there are detailed instructions and strict format specifications for the orders, filling phrases are usually less of a problem. Often, however, clients leave a lot of leeway to write about the topic. This free space can become a stumbling block: Irrelevant gap fillers arise above all if you, as an author, do not yet have a precise idea of ​​the topic.
Something Research can provide you with a lot of inspiration and new input: A paragraph about an interesting aspect that you have researched brings you a good deal closer to the minimum number of words - completely without empty placeholders. If you are particularly fascinated by one aspect, it will be easier for you to convey content in an exciting and convincing manner. Interest and background knowledge naturally ensure a good writing flow.
You can also get content-related impulses from tools such as AnswerThePublic, the W-Questions-Tool or AlsoAsked. They give you a precise overview of the search queries that users have put to the search engines in connection with your topic.

Added value for readers: inside: write clearly, precisely and informatively

Put all sections of your text to the test individually: Do they enrich your text? Is the information really interesting for your readers? This makes it possible to discover what does not fit the topic, repeats itself or does not added value offers. If a statement doesn't go beyond the well-known, like "A refrigerator is a kitchen appliance that is used to cool food," then you know: this part is too much.
As you write, ask yourself: What do I actually want to achieve with my text? What information would I like to convey to my readers? What do I want to convince you of? The clearer and more precisely you write, the more reader-friendly your text is - and the higher the chance that your message will get across.

Avoid structure and word repetitions

Repetition is a surefire way to lose reader interest. They arise at the word level when certain expressions or formulations appear conspicuously often in the text. If every sentence starts with the same phrase, the text quickly becomes monotonous and the readers lose the desire to read on. To provide variety, you can use synonym dictionaries such as the Woxikon: If you can't think of another word for a frequently used term, it suggests suitable alternatives.
Similarities also occur at the sentence level when certain sentence structures appear again and again. This is particularly noticeable with a simple sentence structure. An article that uses the same construction many times is tiresome to the reader: inside, even if the words are varied. An example: “I went to the aquarium. Natalie was there. We looked at the fish. It was a nice excursion. ”You can avoid that by making the sentences versatile and, for example, combining several statements about conjunctions.

Better reading fluency thanks to pronouns

Pronouns help avoid repetition of words. You can use it when the subject has already been mentioned and you want to refer to it without repeating it. Here's an example:
"If you request reimbursement from your health insurance company for medical services that you have used abroad, then you should be sure that you know exactly what services your health insurance covers so that the health insurance company cannot profit from your health insurance case . "
The same information, in fewer words and in a more reader-friendly way:

"If you are applying for a reimbursement for a doctor's visit abroad, check the conditions of your health insurance company so that you get all the benefits you are entitled to."
If none of these tips help, start over from the beginning. Delete the old sentence completely and think about what exactly you want to say. If you try to get your message across in as few words as possible, you will quickly come up with a better phrase. The wider the range of phrases you use, the more engaging your articles will be.

Take the time to proofread

When you have finished writing your article, take a short break and do something else for a while. This will clear your mind and will be able to read the text again with fresh eyes Proofread. A useful trick: If you don't have a second person to proofread, briefly change the font and font size, as this will make the text look completely different and new. You will notice mistakes and repetitions that you may have overlooked before and can change or delete them directly.
In this step, you will also notice phrases and words that are particularly common. When reading through for the first time, mark these areas by underlining them or using another font color. After you have read through the entire text once, you revise these passages in a targeted manner: You can search for particularly frequent phrases in word processing programs using Ctrl + f and replace them with synonyms or delete them completely.
Free Tools like word league make it easier for you to find empty phrases and repetitions.

Avoid empty phrases and write lively

Articles full of placeholders and superfluous things are like a lengthy film - anything but entertaining. In contrast, your readers sit in front of the screen with an interestingly worded text without empty phrases and like to read on: What exciting information is still waiting for them?
If you want to avoid empty phrases, pay attention to these points as you write:

  • Research relevant content: During your research, look for exciting information that your readers are particularly interested in.
  • Formulate it briefly and clearly: When writing, always keep in mind which message you want to convey and concentrate on it.
  • Pay attention to the added value: Cross out text passages that do not bring your reader any added value or other benefit.
  • No frequent structure or word repetitions: Formulate your texts as varied as possible so that the readers stay on the ball until the end. You can do this with synonyms and appropriate pronouns.
  • Proofread texts: Take the time to proofread your texts again after a break and check them with tools. This is how you can find empty phrases, filler words and phrases that you have overlooked before.

Do you have any feedback on this article or an open question? Just leave us a comment below this post. We're looking forward to your response!
  • 13.11.2013
  • 21.01.2021

  • Lydia Teichmann
  • For authors, language and style, tutorials