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Last edited 05 May 2019
Boilerplate is a jargon term for standard information that can be dropped repeatedly into a variety of content such as contracts, legal documents, brochures, letters, websites and so on. Depending on the importance of the document or information, many people do not read boilerplates or at best, skim them very lightly. The term comes from the small steel plate added to traditional boilers that had printed details of the manufacturer, location and basic specification details of the product.
In a company brochure, the boilerplate is often found on the last page or back cover and may give a brief background to the company, key individuals and contact information.
In a contract, the boilerplate usually gives background information or certain routine provisions which may be relevant. It will usually comprise standardised language and is found at the end of the document.
There are also ‘boilerplate contracts’ that can be bought off the shelf that are used for standard situations such as landlord-and-tenant contracts. These only require signing by the various parties and can obviate the need to hire a solicitor.
On a website, the boilerplate may have its own page or be added to the bottom of the homepage or other section of the website. The Designing Buildings Wiki boilerplate has its own webpage and can be seen here. This information or parts of it can be included in other articles on Designing Buildings Wiki using a process of transclustion. If the original boilerplate information is then changed, it also changes automatically in any other article that it appears.
Boilerplate information is typically stored in a computer's memory and pasted wherever and whenever it is required, usually with very little change to the original.
The dangers of boilerplate text include using information that may be out of date, may not be client-specific (especially relevant for contracts or tender documents) or may be unnecessarily long – which may deter people from reading it. This is why it is important to keep boilerplates brief, check them regularly and edit them as and when necessary.
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