Writing fillers and sidebars can offer quick and plentiful spin-off sales from your research. At 500 words or less, they are concise. When submitting these to magazines or other publications offer bunches of them at a time for the editor to choose from because only the editor knows the upcoming themes and topics for future issues.

Familiarize yourself with the type and number of fillers used by the publication and tailor yours to fit the readership. Many publications list their Editorial Calendar on their websites. Aside from the usual holiday theme issues, magazines often combine articles on a specific topic for an issue. So timing your submission to suit their topic schedule improves your chance of having your fillers and sidebars accepted.

Always include fillers and sidebars with feature articles or news pieces and editors will adore you.

The types of filler categories are: informative, links, and humor. Watch for them in magazines to see how they are used.

Quick news bites and tiny features are a great entry into national magazines. These quick bits in “front-of-book” appear before the longer feature articles in a magazine. They also keep your name in front of the editors. If you continue to offer quality quick bits in your area of expertise, then you could be approached to write a feature article on this topic or area of interest.

As you research a topic you will come across interesting bits of info that don’t merit a full article. Keep a file of these. You never know when your collection will become relevant or trending.


People are attracted to stories by visuals. In photos, always identify individuals in the photo by full name, as they appear from left to right, row by row. Use your original photos only. Do not swap out heads, or blot out things in the photo. The publisher, particularly a news publisher, requires the clean original.

Prepare a permission form and get it signed by people in your photographs so you can use the photo with the article. It will be up to the editor whether or not to use the photo, but if the editor wants to use it, he will probably ask for you to get a permission slip signed. Why chase after someone weeks after you took the photo? The permission slip is also a backup for getting the person’s name spelled correctly. Let the person know that it isn’t up to you whether or not the photograph will be used, it is up to the editor.

If photographs are being used to show steps of a process, be sure to caption them with numbers for each step. They could pass through many hands before they are published.


Informative Fillers and Sidebars:

  • How-to steps, statistics, news bits
  • Evaluations, quizzes, warning signs
  • Tips, advice
  • Historical dates
  • Humor, top-ten lists
  • Odd facts or historical data
  • Charts, graphs, maps
  • Prayers for specific needs
  • Anecdotal examples
  • Book reviews
  • Photographs with captions


  • Resource list
  • Emails
  • Websites, social media sites and connections
  • Mailing addresses
  • Phone numbers for help, toll-free or list by state or major city
  • Helpful books on this topic by experts
  • Agencies, organizations, clubs
  • Scriptures that help
  • Where to get help, support groups, experts, blogs
  • How to help


  • Jokes
  • Anecdotes
  • Lists of funny but true things
  • Original cartoon (do not use any cartoon without the express written consent of the artist and expect to pay for the use of the cartoon)
  • Famous quotations


Filler formats range from creative shapes, colors, cutouts and such. Many offer information that is perennial or evergreen, while others are tied to trends or current events. Taking the same information and targeting it toward different readership groups can make the sidebar or filler even more marketable. Formats:

  1. Bullets, shapes and icons can liven up the bullets
  2. Numbered lists (list items by order of importance or as steps in a process)
  3. Acrostics—ABCs of the subject or topic in which each line item begins with a letter of the alphabet. A is for Accuracy, B is for Brevity, C is for Clarity….
  4. Quiz and the answer key
  5. List of scriptures or famous quotations connected to the topic
  6. List of materials needed or steps to perform
  7. Charts. Compare/contrast, document trend or change. Design a chart or graph if it will dramatize a point accurately.
  8. Prayers. Chapter summaries. Mini devotionals.
  9. Games. Crossword puzzles. Fill in the blank.
  10. Recipes.

Study each publication to see how it uses fillers and sidebars and submit yours to match theirs in style and format.

To read or to receive similar articles go to: www.jonimfisher.com

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