Filler Words and Fluffiness: The Sneaky Saboteurs of Writing

Don’t confuse readers with wordiness.

While you may have a firm grasp of grammar and an extensive vocabulary, one sneaky culprit can weaken your writing: fluff and filler words. These seemingly harmless words can dilute your message and leave your readers unfulfilled. Today, we’ll explore why avoiding these unnecessary words is crucial and how to identify and eliminate them from your writing.

Why Avoid Fluff and Filler Words?

  1. Improved clarity: Removing fluffiness makes your writing more precise, allowing your message to shine without distractions.
  2. Enhanced readability: Readers can process your content more efficiently when it’s free of unnecessary words, keeping them engaged and preventing frustration.
  3. Increased credibility: A well-structured and concise piece of writing demonstrates your expertise and professionalism, making you a more reliable source of information.
  4. Boosted impact: By trimming the fluff, your writing will pack a more powerful punch, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

Fluff and Filler Words Dilute Your Keywords and Keyphrases

Fluff dilutes keywords by distracting from the main focus and reducing the overall effectiveness of your writing. Keywords are essential in conveying your content’s central message or theme, and they play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) when writing for online platforms. By incorporating too many fluff words, you risk:

  1. Weakening your message: Fluff words add unnecessary noise to your writing, making it harder for readers to identify and understand the core message. When the reader’s attention scatters among irrelevant words, it can lead to confusion and a loss of interest.
  2. Reducing keyword density: In SEO, keyword density refers to the frequency of the target keywords in your content. Excessive fluff words increase the overall word count without adding value, which lowers the keyword density. That can negatively impact your content’s visibility and search engine ranking.
  3. Decreasing keyword prominence: Keyword prominence refers to how early your target keywords appear in your content. Including fluff words in the beginning or crucial sections of your writing can push your keywords further down, making it difficult for readers and search engines to determine the focus of your content.
  4. Impacting readability and user experience: Fluff words can make your content seem disorganized, rambling, and tricky to read. It leads to a poor user experience, causing readers to lose interest and potentially affecting your content’s performance metrics, such as bounce rate.

You’ll create more concise and focused content by eliminating fluff. It emphasizes your keywords, making it easier for readers to understand your message and improving your online visibility.


200 Filler Words from A to Z: 

Here’s an alphabetical list of some typical fluffy words to watch for in your writing:

  • A: a bit, a lot, a little, absolutely, actually, almost, anyway, as if. after all, again, all in all, all things considered
  • B: basically, because, believe it or not, be that as it may, besides, by and large
  • C: certainly, clearly, completely, could, come to think of it, considering
  • D: definitely, despite, due to, during, despite the fact that, doubtless
  • E: each, either, else, eventually, exactly, evidently, essentially, even so, even though, even when 
  • F: fairly, for example, for instance, frankly, frequently, from my perspective, for all intents and purposes, for the most part, for the time being, for this reason 
  • G: generally, given, going forward, generally speaking, granted
  • H: hardly, hopefully, however, honestly, having said that, hence
  • I: if, in a manner of speaking, in addition, in any case, in conclusion, in essence, in fact, in general, in my opinion, in order to, in other words, in particular, in reality, in summary, in the end, in the meantime, indeed, interestingly, it is worth noting, it seems, it’s important to note, if I may say so, in a sense, in any event, in brief, in case, in closing, in conclusion, in effect, in light of this, in my experience, in retrospect, in spite of, in the final analysis, in the first place, in the long run, in the process, in this case, in turn, in view of, inasmuch as, incidentally, initially, it appears, it bears mentioning, it goes without saying, it’s safe to say, it’s worth pointing out
  • J: just, just as 
  • K: kind of, know 
  • L: largely, like, literally, lastly, leastwise, let’s face it, likewise 
  • M: mainly, maybe, might, moreover, most, mostly, may, meanwhile, more or less, moreover, much as
  • N: naturally, nearly, necessarily, nevertheless, not only, needless to say, notwithstanding
  • O: obviously, of course, on balance, on the other hand, on the whole, only, overly, overall, once in a while, on the contrary, on the other hand, on the plus side, on top of that, one could argue, one might say, otherwise 
  • P: particularly, perhaps, possibly, practically, pretty, presumably, previously, please note, provided that, putting it another way 
  • Q: quite 
  • R: really, regardless, relatively, rightly, roughly, rather than, regardless of, relatively speaking
  • S: seemingly, simply, so, somewhat, sort of, still, surely, so to speak, speaking of, specifically, subsequently, such as 
  • T: that, that being said, that is, that’s why, then, there, there is/are, therefore, thus, to be honest, to sum up, truly, typically, taking into account, that said, the fact that, the point is, the truth is, though, to clarify, to elaborate, to emphasize, to put it differently, to put it mildly, to reiterate, to some extent, to that end, to the best of my knowledge, to the contrary, to the extent that, to the point, to top it all off, to wrap things up
  • U: ultimately, undoubtedly, undeniably, unfortunately, unless, under the circumstances, up to a point, usually 
  • V: very 
  • W: well, whatever, when, while, within, without, would, when all is said and done, while it’s true that, with this in mind, without a doubt, without going into detail, without question 
  • X: (none) 
  • Y: yet, you know 
  • Z: (none)

How to Recognize Fluff and Remove Them From Your Writing

Recognizing unnecessary language can be challenging, especially when they have become a habit in your writing. Here are ten hints to help you identify and eliminate them:

1 – Read your work aloud: 

Reading your content out loud can help you identify awkward phrasing or redundancies that might not be as noticeable when reading silently. Listen for words that don’t add value or clarity to your message.

2 – Look for common fluff words: 

Please familiarize yourself with lists of typical fluff terms like those we provided. Keep these lists handy while editing your work, and actively search for these words in your writing.

3 – Use the “So what?” test: 

After reading a sentence containing unnecessary language, ask yourself, “So what?” If the word doesn’t contribute to the sentence’s meaning or help answer the “So what?” question, it’s likely fluff.

4 – Trim adverbs and adjectives: 

While not always considered fluff, excessive adverbs and adjectives can weaken your writing. Look for instances where these can be removed without sacrificing meaning or replaced with more assertive, precise words.

5 – Practice brevity: 

Challenge yourself to convey your message in fewer words. Set a goal to reduce your word count by a certain percentage and focus on eliminating unnecessary words and phrases to achieve that goal.

6 – Edit to remove filler words in stages: 

Break your editing process into stages. In one stage, focus solely on identifying and removing the fluff. This targeted approach can help you become more aware of their presence in your writing.

7 – Use editing tools to eliminate fluff words: 

Use writing and editing tools, like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor, to identify fluff, passive voice, and other issues that weaken your writing. While not a substitute for careful editing, these tools can serve as a helpful starting point.

8 – Seek feedback: 

Share your work with peers, friends, or a writing group, and ask them to look for fluff or areas where your writing seems unclear or verbose. Having an extra set of eyes can provide valuable insight.

9 – Create a personalized list of filler words: 

Keep track of the fluff language you often use while editing your work. Create your list to reference during future editing sessions.

10 – Practice mindfulness about the fluff: 

Be conscious of your writing habits and the words you choose. Over time, you’ll better understand which words are necessary and which are fluff. Regular practice and editing will help you avoid using these words in your writing.

By implementing these tips and consistently improving your writing, you’ll become more adept at recognizing and eliminating fluff words, resulting in precise, more engaging content.

Writing Exercises to Decrease Filler Words

o help you delete fluff from your writing and develop a more concise style, try these three writing exercises:

1 – The Word Limit Challenge:

  • Choose a topic or a prompt and write a short piece.
  • Set a strict word limit for the exercise (e.g., 200 words).
  • Once you’ve written your initial draft, revise it to meet the word limit without sacrificing the core message or essential information.
  • This exercise forces you to evaluate the necessity of each word, eliminate fluff, and focus on conveying your message as efficiently as possible.

2 – The Sentence Rewrite:

  • Take a piece of your writing or select a passage from a book or article.
  • Identify sentences that seem to contain fluffy words.
  • Rewrite each sentence to remove the unnecessary words while maintaining the original meaning.
  • Doing this exercise will make you more aware of filler words and learn how to construct concise and impactful sentences.

3 – The Fluff-Free Paragraph:

  • Write a paragraph on any topic, but challenge yourself to avoid using fluffy language from the beginning.
  • Be mindful of each word you use, and focus on clarity and conciseness.
  • After writing the paragraph, please review it to ensure no fluff words remain.
  • Comparing this paragraph to your usual writing style will help you understand the difference that avoiding fluff can make in your writing.

These exercises, when practiced regularly, will help you develop a keen eye for fluffy language, enabling you to write more effectively and concisely. As you gain experience, you’ll find that your writing naturally becomes more precise and impactful, even in your first drafts.


Summing It Up: Filler Words Weaken Your Copy

Identifying and eliminating fluffy language from your writing will improve clarity, enhance readability, and increase credibility. You will also boost the overall impact of your content. The A to Z list above can be a helpful reference when polishing your work, but remember that practice makes perfect. Stay vigilant, and your writing will become more effective over time.

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