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Boilerplate Definition

Boilerplate Definition

The term Boilerplate refers to a standardized method, procedure or document. On the other hand, boilerplating refers to the process of using a boilerplate method. Sometimes, the term is used to refer to a lack of sincere effort or originality. The boilerplate document is used in other files such as low law profession to increase the efficiency and standardization in the language and structure of legal documents which includes; investment prospectuses, contracts, and bond indentures.


1.  Readily available design, content, or format that corresponds to various uses.

2. It is a standard legal language used by insurance companies, banks, service providers, vendors, landlords among other service providing firms and individuals. It is often printed on the back a common loan, insurance, and tenancy agreements. It is also printed on receipts, invoices, and bills among other documents.

The clauses of the boiler are drawn old and experienced legal firms and, in most cases, not negotiable by the customer or the client. It also relates to adhesion contracts and template.

A Little More on Boilerplate

In most cases, boilerplate is applied in a situation whereby a document or a form deemed to be reused in a new context without significant changes to the text. For example, a bank or insurance company may apply a standard contract to every customer who applies for their home loan. The employees of the bank and the applicant are required to fill select list of checkboxes or fill in banks depending on the circumstance at hand instead of creating a new document that has every detail of the situation.

Specifically, boilerplate is not changed and the parties involve are provided with the accurate information and avoids being confused into making undesirable agreements that small changes in the boilerplate text can detect.

On the other hand, in the 19th century, the term boilerplate used to refer to a plate of steel used by the steelmakers to construct steam boilers. The standard metal plates reminded the artisans the unoriginal or hackneyed work of the writers and other individuals submitted for publication. The wide use of the term began during early 1954 when the journal in the Bedford Gazette disapproved boilerplates since they were made of fine prints that were designed to waive or modify the provision by the law. Currently, businesses specifically use boilerplates that comprise of clauses designed to protect their operation. The clauses do not provide room for negotiation with the customers who sign boilerplate documents without reading or understanding the contentment therein.  This type of boilerplate is documented by the party that has superior bargaining power and present the weaker party. This is referred to as an adhesion contract in the legal profession. In this regard, the court may set aside some provisions regarding such contracts if they find them unconscionable.

Currently, the term boilerplate is used in various settings to refer to a standard form, procedure, and or method. For example, in information technology, the computer programmers communicate by using the boilerplate coding to write new program since the modern programs can have numerous lines of codes and therefore it is not possible to write such pragmas from scratch. Besides, in marketing press or materials, rarely produces change. In public relation and marketing, the term boilerplate refers to a block of language in press or marketing materials that do not change frequently.  Such kind of boilerplates is mostly written to express the mission of the company or cast the good light of the company. They are often added to various company publications webpage, and press including about Us page.

References for Boilerplate

Academic Research on Boilerplate

  • Boilerplate detection using shallow text features, Kohlschütter, C., Fankhauser, P., & Nejdl, W. (2010, February). In Proceedings of the third ACM international conference on Web search and data mining (pp. 441-450). ACM. This paper analyzes a small set of shallow text features for classifying the individual text elements in a Web page. According to the author, a boilerplate text does not relate to the main content of the agreement and therefore may alter search precision and should be properly designed.  The paper further compares the approach to complex, state-of-the-art techniques and demonstrate the how competitive accuracy can be achieved at no cost. Moreover, the author derives a credible and straightforward stochastic model for unfolding the process of boilerplate creation.
  • A theory construction approach to legal document assembly, Gordon, T. (1989). In Pre-Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Logic, Informatics, and Law (pp. 485-498).  This article provides an overview of a software system under development for assembling legal documents for presentation. The author provides that the software system uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods that are based on abduction view or construction of the theory of legal reasoning.  The AI methods used in this study include; a Natural Deduction theorem prover, an Assumption-based Truth Maintenance System (ATMS), and an implementation of Poole’s approach to default reasoning.
  • Learning document aboutness from implicit user feedback and document structure, Paranjpe, D. (2009, November). In Proceedings of the 18th ACM conference on Information and knowledge management (pp. 365-374). ACM. This paper presents the concept of aboutness using phrases and words that constructively reflect the central idea in the topic. The author explores and explains the machine learning approach that acknowledges to score and rank phrases and words in the document based on their relevance to the document. The study uses implicit user feedback present in the search engine to determine the relevance of the texts in on the document.
  • The Law and Sociology of Boilerplate, Rakoff, T. D. (2005). Mich. L. Rev., 104, 1235. This article explores the contracts of adhesion in the consumer context.  The author provides that the burden of the contract should be placed on the drafting firms to indicate their firm terms. The article then concluded that the when the drafting firms do not place clear terms om their documents, al the burden or loses related to the boilerplate should be left for them to incur.
  • The WaCky wide web: a collection of very large linguistically processed web-crawled corpora, Baroni, M., Bernardini, S., Ferraresi, A., & Zanchetta, E. (2009). Language resources and evaluation, 43(3), 209-226. This article explores and explains the concept of ukWaC, deWaC and itWaC.  The study focuses on three very large corpora of German, English, and Italian designed through web crawling. It further describes the methodology and tools used for web construction. The author suggests that the corpora contain numerous words up to billion and thus form the largest resources for a given language. Then a billion words each, and are thus among the largest resources for the respective languages.
  • TEI Boilerplate, Walsh, J. A., & Simpson, G. (2013). This article provides a framework for describing and designing material features that are important to achieve the best boil plate.
  • Metadata for boilerplate placement values for secure software development using derived requirements, Busby-Earle, C., & Mugisa, E. K. (2009). In Proceedings of the 13th IASTED International Conference on Software Engineering and Applications (SEA 2009). ACTA Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This paper proposes the metadata for explaining elements for a list of BPVs that executes consistency and enhances the identification of possible security apprehensions using DRs and the Secure Requirements Writer (SECRET) tool developed in the study. The author introduced the concept of imposed security dependence, an important element of the metadata.
  • The scrivener’s tools—developing computerized practice aids for tomorrow’s law office, Sprowl, J. A. (1986). This paper focuses on Scrivener which is a word-processing program and outliner developed for authors.  According to the author, the Scrivener provides a system for management of notes, documents, and metadata. The author also suggests that Scrivener allows the user to organize research, concepts, notes, and the entire document for easy access.  Besides, the Scrivener offers models for fictions, screenplays, and non-fiction manuscripts. After designing a text, the user may run it through the system to design and format it to achieve standard screenwriting software, word processor,  desktop publishing software, or TeX.
  • Prescriptions for using boilerplate, Hays, R. (1983). IEEE transactions on professional communication, (2), 60-62. The paper focuses on presenting the prescription for using the boilerplate. It also outlines the merits and demerits of using boilerplate in making long documents and proposes applications and procedures for the appropriate use of boilerplate. According to the author, boilerplate pages, paragraphs and standard sections are used with little or no change. This considerably helps to cut cost, save time, meet deadlines and meet quality.  The author also suggests diagnostic inquiries and prescriptions for certifying that off-the-shelf materials are accurate and up to date.
  • Boilerplate Today: The Rise of Modularity and the Waning of Consent, Radin, M. J. (2005). Mich. L. Rev., 104, 1223. This article explores the rise of modularity and the waning consent related to the boilerplate document. The author examines the modularity, especially in the legal system. According to the author, the concept of modularity became important during the 20th century. Currently, the concept has widely spread and used to design and build analogous systems
  • Structured document processors: Implications for technical writing, Norman, R., & Grider, D. (1992). Technical Communication Quarterly, 1(3), 5-21. This article describes a range of SDPs that are currently used in the industry and examines the implications for practice and training of technical writing. Structured Document Processors (DSPs) provide guidance and control designing process for specialized writing such as regulations and procedures. The author further explains that the SDPs assimilate word processors and other writing aids that occur in the controlled writing situation that compel writers to use a specific kind of information.
  • Multimedia document structure for distributed theatre, Jansen, J., Frantzis, M., & Cesar, P. (2015, September). In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering (pp. 199-202). ACM. This article explores the suitability of structured multimedia document formats for enhancing a novel type of performing arts: especially the distributed theatre.  According to the author, distributed theatre, comprise of actors that are split between two or more locations. However, the actors deliver a single performance moderated by the camera and projection technologies. The study concluded that that novel types of video-mediated applications, such as distributed theatre requires new ways of authorizing documents.

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