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Self-publishing: Find and Replace all filler words in your Google Document with Regular Expression

Finding filler words using a regular expression in Google Doc’s find and replace function.

Finding filler words using a regular expression in Google Doc's find and replace function.

When I am self-editing, one of the first things I check is whether my work contains filler words. These words should be removed for greater readability.

These are the filler words I will try to remove (if possible) from my text: that, just, only, really, almost, slightly, seemed, perhaps, maybe, simply, somehow, absolutely, basically, actually, now, sort of, kind of, a little, very.

Going through this list one filler word at a time is a tedious task.

Enter Google’s Regular Expression.

With your Google Document open, hit CTRL-H. Enter in the Find field all the filler words you want to find in your Google document and make sure to place a | character between each word.

Like so: that|just|only

You can even use phrases in your list, just make sure to replace each space with \s.

Like so: sort\sof|kind\sof|a\slittle

Try it yourself.

Copy paste the following string into the Find and Replace (CTRL-H) box, and go one by one through all matching words in your Google Document:

that|just|only|really|almost|slightly|seemed|perhaps|maybe|simply|somehow|absolutely|basically|actually|now|sort\sof|kind\sof|a\slittle|very

Caution: do not use Replace All. Use Next (or Previous) and Replace while editing your document.


Khadim Zaman, science fiction author and poet.

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