Publishing terms

A glossary of terms, words, slang and shop talk used in the journalism, book publishing, printing, and writing professions, circa 1999

ad
 Advertisement.

add
Copy to be added to a story already written.

advance
1. A preliminary story describing a future event. 2. To move a story
up in priority (“We’re advancing the scandal story to the front
 page.”)

angle
The aspect emphasized in a story.

assignment
The task or story a reporter must cover.

background
1. A story that is not assigned a deadline. (See also “backgrounder.”)
2. Any information that is given to reporter not specifically for a
quote, but for general information on a subject.

backgrounder
A story that details the background of a subject. (“I’m assigned to do
a backgrounder on the new company.”)

bank
See deck.

banner
A headline that extends across the page or screen.

beat
The area or subject matter that a reporter regularly covers.

blind interview
An interview which does not give the name of the person interviewed.

blurb
Short phrase issued by a publisher to promote the sale of a book.

BOD
“Book-on-demand”; method of book printing where each book is produced
as it is ordered.

boil down
To reduce in size.

break
1. The time when a story has been published. (“When did that story
break?”) 2. The first news source to report a story. (“An indie
Web site first broke the scandal.”)

brief
A brief story.

bump
1. To move something ahead or behind schedule. (“We’re going to bump
this story up to Tuesday.”) 2. To increase or decrease. (“We’ll bump
your payment up to compensate you for the extra work you did.”)

byline
The author’s name at the beginning of a story.

caption
The descriptive text for an illustration; often credits the name of
the photographer or artist who made the illustration. Also “cut line”
or “cutline.”

casebound
See “hardbound.”

clip
A collection of a writer’s previously published work, used to show the
talent and interests of a writer. (“Can you send me some clips on the
 subject?”)

codex
A book made of bound pages.

copy
The text of a story.

copyreader
One who edits and gives headlines to news stories.

cover
To research and put together a story.

credit
Acknowledging the source for a given fact.

cub
A beginning reporter. Also “rookie.”

cut
Remove a portion of a story.

cut line
See “caption.”

daily
A publication that publishes every day.

deck
Part of the headline which summarizes the story. Also “deck copy,” “bank.”

dog watch
See “lobster shift.”

editorialize
To inject the opinion of the writer in a story.

filler
Short news stories or tidbits used to fill space.

flak
A low-position spokesperson for a company.

flash
Short news summary of an event.

follow-up
A story that gives new developments about the subject of a previously
published story.

folio
Page number.

foto
 Photograph.

fotog
 Photographer.

freelancer
One work works for himeself, and is not employed by the publisher; a
freelance assignment is one given to a writer not employed by the
publisher. Also “free-lancer.”

fyi
For your information.

get
A very good, or exclusive, interview.

graf
 Paragraph.

hardbound
A codex book whose cover material is hard and not flexible. Also
“hardback” or “casebound.”

head
See “headline.”

headline
Title of a story.

inset
1. Correcting copy inserted into a piece that is already typeset. 2.
Any material inserted into something larger: pages, copy,
illustration, advertisements. (“The corrections in the book’s new edition were made
with inset copy — you can see that the typeface is slightly
 different.”)

journo
1. Journalist. 2. Journalism.

kicker
The first sentence or first few words of a story’s lead, set in a font
size larger than the body text of the story.

kill
To delete copy; to remove an item from the publication schedule (“In
light of the airplane tragedy, the editor decided to kill the airline
humor story.”)

kill fee
Fee paid to reporter for a killed story; usually a percentage of the
normal fee.

lead
The lead paragraph or sentence in a story.

lede
See “lead.”

leg man
A reporter who gathers news.

library
A publication’s private collection of files, clips, illustrations,
prepared bios/obits, etc.

lobster shift
Working in the hours after a publication has gone to print.

masthead
The page of a publication that gives its staff and editorial information.

morgue
See “library.”

mug shot
A head-and-shoulders picture of an individual.

net sales
Number of actual sales of a book (ie, not counting copies sent to
distributors and later returned).

nut graf
Paragraph in a story containing the “meat” details of what the story
is all about, often directly following an anecdotal lead.

obit
 Obituary.

on spec
Submitting a piece on the “speculation” that the editor will accept
it, a practice more new free-lancers

op-ed
“Opposite editorial” — features page usually printed opposite a
newspaper’s editorial page, often containing pieces presenting a
position on an issue which is the opinion of the author and not
necessarily (or usually) the opinion of the paper. Also “O&E.”

orphan
A single line of text beginning a paragraph or section of text and
appearing at the bottom of a page.

pad
To make longer.

paste-up
A page’s individual elements assembled in its layout on a board
(usu. by _pasting_ or taping); used to make the photographic plates
which are then printed.

pic
Picture or illustration.

pitch
Story idea sent to an editor by a reporter.

pix
 Pictures.

play up
Emphasize. (“Why don’t you play up the infidelity angle?”)

pork
Material held for later use, if needed.

POD
“Print-on-demand.” See BOD.

pull quote
A quotation from an article, sometimes edited for brevity, displayed
in larger type as a figure to the body of the article. (Also
 “pullquote.”)

puff
Editorialized, complimentary statements in a story.

puff piece
A news story that contains a lot of puff.

query
A pitch, usually for longer, editorial or magazine pieces.

redletter
Exclusive, breaking news coverage of a major news event, printed in red type.

retraction
A publication’s withdrawal of a previously-published story or
fact. (“The _Times_ retracted their comments on the man.”)

revision
A re-written or improved story, often with additional quotes or facts.

rookie
See “cub.”

run
1. To put an item on schedule for publication (“Let’s run this item in
the gossip column.”) 2. A reporter’s beat.

sacred cow
News or promo material which a publisher or editor demands be
published, often for personal reasons.

scoop
1. An exclusive or first-published story. (“That story you did was a
nice scoop.”) 2. A synonym for “tip.” (“I got another great scoop from
 her.”)

sell-through
Percentage amount of net sales for a book.

short
See “brief.”

source
An individual whose statements are used for material in a story.

spec
See “on spec.”

stet
Proofreader’s mark for “restore to condition before mark up.”

street edition
The edition of a newspaper that comes out first and is available “on
the streets” such as at newsstands.

subhead
A smaller one-line headline for a story.

TK
Proofreader’s insertion mark for data “to come”; also “TKTK.”

take
A section of a running story.

tie back
See “tie in.”

tie in
Part of the story that reiterates past events in order to make recent
developments clear. Also “tie back.” (“Your piece is good, but the
tie-in is weak.”)

tip
Information about a potential story that has not been broken.

top heads
Headlines at the top of a column.

trim
To reduce the length of a story.

vet

weekly
A publication that publishes once a week.

widow
A single line of text ending a paragraph or section of text and
appearing at the top of a page.

For more, see “Glossary of Printing and Allied Terms” in the third edition of Words into Type (pg. 535), in print for more than a quarter-century and still unparalleled.

First published on June 9th, 2010 at 3:57 pm