The emission measure distribution in the upper transition region and corona of e Eri is derived from observed emission-line fluxes. Theoretical emission measure distributions are calculated assuming that the radiation losses are balanced by the net conductive flux. We discuss how the area factor of the emitting regions as a function of temperature can be derived from a comparison between these emission measure distributions. It is found that the filling factor varies from ~0.2 in the mid-transition region to ~1.0 in the inner corona. The sensitivity of these results to the adopted ion fractions, the iron abundance and other parameters is discussed. The area factors found are qualitatively similar to the observed structure of the solar atmosphere, and can be used to constrain two-component models of the chromosphere. Given further observations, the method could be applied to investigate the trends in filling factors with indicators of stellar activity.