The classic definition for paperwork says

Routine work involving written documents such as forms, records, or letters.

Now, given that we are in the digital age and computers have taken many tedious tasks away, we still have to cope with clutter... What would be the equivalent word for

Routine work involving electronic documents such as forms, spreadsheets, or emails.

The equivalent will be used in the context of phrases like

  • Spare me the paperwork
  • Take the clutter away

p.s. It seems that Woody Allen is still using a typewriter.

  • 8
    Just do what they did in the 1990s: stick an 'e' on the front! Spare me the e-paperwork. Job done. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 12:31
  • Note to answerers: Please note that ELU does not solicit neologisms. If there are now words actually in use, six years after this question was first asked, then please write a new answer, citing evidence. If you are simply making a clever suggestion, your answer may be removed.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 7:46

8 Answers 8


For the time being, I would stick with "paperwork."

Notice that in a modern automobile, you still "roll up the windows." You still "dial a phone." Often, we retain words and phrases that would seem to be obsolete, because language generally changes more slowly than technology does.

However, in this specific case, 'paper' seems unnecessary - you could just say "I have a lot of work," or "please don't send me more work." The 'paper' bit is kind of superfluous.

  • 8
    If I miss a line while watching a DVD, I rewind it a bit. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 13:48
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    Precisely. Also, the "paste" in "copy and paste" seems of a like kind.
    – The Raven
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 14:12
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    This is a really interesting answer.
    – Alan
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 14:15
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    However, 'paperwork' has a somewhat different connotation than just plain old 'work'. From Merriam-Webster (emphasis mine): "routine clerical or record-keeping work often incidental to a more important task". So I don't think using 'work' instead is the right thing to do. I think your first suggestion of just continuing to use 'paperwork' is better. Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 22:58
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    @MichaelBurr Yes, the first bit of this answer is really good, paperwork is the boring, tedious, repetitive, administrative stuff. Plain old work is the stuff that paperwork gets in the way of.
    – Hugo
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 20:27

In my work (as an Engineer) the final step is 'document everything'. This may be actual paperwork, but it often consists of electronic documents.

I'm sure if I called it 'paperwork', my colleagues would understand what I meant.


I've heard (and used) administrivia (a portmanteau of administrative and trivia) to indicate the additional unimportant but still necessary stuff that has to be done.


I'm not able to find anything that works nearly so well as "administrivia." The problem with all the other suggestions such as "paperwork," "deskwork," or "clutter," is that they don't convey the additional tone of tediousness and menial, and yet, necessary quality often intended with the word "administrivia." "Administrivia" is unique in that it embodies all these adjectives at once better than any other single word, yet it is not precise enough to fit modern life. Its composites, "admin" and "trivia" have the connotation of trite, but not the consequentiality it needs. We need a word that more precisely conveys the intense combination of drudgery and urgency one continuously encounters in modern life.


The term "bureaucracy" may be used in the sense of "excessively complicated administrative procedure" (according to the OED), such as filling out forms, writing useless reports etc. It has a pejorative connotation and is slightly more general than "paperwork", though.



works for paper or electronic .


In March, we have endless keying in to do before we can eFile the eReturns.

It is also what takes the fun out of vacation planning.


Digiwork -Has the sound of unimportant but still necessary, with a whiff of drudgery. It sounds modern and is quickly and easily said. Administrivia has 6 syllables, FGS! I can hear Tim Allen giving digiwork 15 inflections with 15 discernable shades of meaning. MSP

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