Publishing/Writing Terms

Publishing and Writing Terms and Acronyms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Note: The majority of these terms came from the glossary in “How To Publish Your Articles A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes” by Shirley Kawa-Jump

A
acquiring editor The person at a publication who has the power to make article-buying decisions.  The editor who performs this job may not have this actual title, but may instead have the title of editor in chief, managing editor, section editor, submissions editor, or executive editor.
advertising schedule The calendar for advertisers that details when ads need to be placed for particular issues of a publication. This schedule often runs parallel to the editorial calendar.
all rights A type of rights, granted in a contract, that gives the publisher legal permission to reproduce the article, or do anything else he wants with it, forever. The author of the article can never resell that particular piece to another publication.
angle The defined approach taken in an article by the writer. Also called a slant, this is one facet of the larger topic on which the writer has chosen to focus.
AP style The preferred writing style of the Associated Press. This is the predominant style used by newspapers. The details for this style–which include the formatting of numbers, capitalization, abbreviation, etc.–are found in the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.
APA style One of two main styles used in academic papers, the other being MLA style. APA style is established by the American Psychological Association. Information on this style can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
art The industry term for any graphics, photographs, or other images that might accompany an article.
ASCII format Also known as text only, this format strips a file of all formatting–boldface, italics, etc.–and converts it to a single-spaced, plain document that can be read by most software programs.
assignment An article that is given to a writer by an editor, with a specific deadline. Assignments usually result from query letters and are accompanied by a contract or a letter of agreement.
attachment A file attached to an e-mail message. With the number of viruses floating around, most editors don’t want attachments. They would prefer you to save your article as an ASCII (text only) file and paste it into the body of the e-mail message.
audience The readers of a specific publication. These are the people you are directly trying to reach with your article.
audience profile An analysis of the average reader of a targeted publication. Compiled using demographics and a market analysis, an audience profile helps the writer determine exactly which angle to take with the article.
author biography A list of a writer’s credits. Also called an author bio, most are a page in length and list only the most relevant or prestigious publishing credits. See also curriculum vitae.
author copies Copies of a publication that are given to the author of an article printed in that issue. See also tearsheet.
B
banner The title and publication date of a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical. The banner appears on the front cover of the publication.
beat A subject area or industry that is assigned to a newspaper staff reporter. For instance, the reporter can be assigned to report on all crime activity, on political happenings, or on specific news for one town or region.
billboard paragraph The paragraph that sums up the general angle of an article, providing the essential points that the piece will cover. This is also referred to as the nut graph or theme graph.
body The main portion of an article. This is where the writer provides solid information, answering the reader’s questions and illuminating the subject. The body follows the lead and precedes the conclusion.
byline The name of the author as printed at the top or end of an article.
C
catalog envelope An envelope that measures 10 inches by 13 inches. Because this envelope is large enough to enclose a long article and keep it flat during mailing, it is perfect for a submission package.
Chicago style The style set by the University of Chicago. Most consumer publications use either Chicago style, detailed in The Chicago Manual of Style, or AP Style when making decisions regarding punctuation, spelling, abbreviation, and other elements of writing style.
circulation The number of people who buy and/or receive a given publication. This can be either a closed circulation or an open circulation.
clips Copies of published articles submitted by a writer to an editor. Usually, a writer includes two or three photocopied samples of work with a submission package or query letter to demonstrate his experience in a particular area of writing.
closed circulation Readership that is limited to subscription or membership. This is the case with many trade journals and academic journals. See also circulation; open circulation.
contract The formal written agreement between a writer and publisher that defines the rights and responsibilities of each party. The contract should spell out what rights the publication is buying, along with the deadline for the article; any kill fee; any extra material the editor wants the writer to provide, such as art or a sidebar; and other important terms.
contributing editor An honorary editor who also provides articles for a publication. Contributing editors are usually given a position on the masthead, and are often recognized experts in a given field
copy Actual lines of writing. This is the text in an article or other piece of writing.
copyeditor The person at a publication who is in charge of correcting and proofreading articles. This editor makes changes in the copy and double-checks it for grammatical errors, spelling problems, and other possible mistakes.
copyright The legal overall right granted to an author or publisher for ownership of a written work. Under this ownership comes a number of specific rights, including the exclusive rights to print, sell, distribute, or translate a work. Putting a copyright notation on your work reminds others that it is your creation.
copywriting Providing copy for corporations or marketing and advertising agencies. This can range from the writing of press releases to that of brochures and website material, depending on the needs of the client
cover letter A short letter written to an editor to spark his interest in an article. The cover letter is accompanied by a copy of the already-written article. If the article has not yet been written, the writer sends a query letter instead.
curriculum vitae A summary of an academic’s educational and professional background.  Usually, a vitae should be only a couple of pages in length and list only the most relevant and prestigious credentials.
D
defamation Damage of a person’s reputation, character, or good name via something that is written (libel) or spoken (slander).
demographics Statistics that profile specific characteristics of a human population, such as age, gender, income level, level of education, and region of the country.
dramatic, television, and motion picture rights The right to sell an article or story for dramatic adaptation. Writers who have written human interest articles should try to retain these rights when signing a contract with a publication in case other media representatives are interested in the piece.
E
editor The person at a publication who works with the writer, shaping the article and making it fit the publication. The editor also gives out assignments, sends out contracts or letters of agreement, and serves as the writer’s main point of contact. See also acquiring editor; copyeditor; editorial assistant; editor-in-chief; managing editor; section editor.
editorial A first-person consumer or academic article that expresses one individual’s view of a topic. These pieces are usually less than 900 words in length and are sometimes called op-eds when they are written for newspapers.
editorial assistant The person at a publication who helps an editor by making photocopies, filing, etc. The editorial assistant is the first to see unsolicited material and usually makes the first decision regarding the material’s appropriateness for the publication.
editorial calendar A publication’s internal schedule in which the editors lay out their themes for the coming year’s issues. These calendars are generally created at the end of the year. Writers can request a copy of the editorial calendar along with the writer’s guidelines, or can search for the calendar online. Often, the editorial calendar is the same as or runs parallel to the advertising schedule.
editorial lead time The amount of time between an article’s deadline and its publication date. This can vary from two to nine months, depending on the publication.
editor-in-chief The person at a publication who oversees the editorial staff and ensures that all articles fit the publication’s editorial focus. The editor-in-chief has the final say over everything that runs in the publication.
electronic rights A blanket term that encompasses all reprints of an article in electronic form–on websites, in online magazines, in CD-ROMs, in databases, etc. Any of these existing technologies, as well as any emerging technologies, can be lumped into this category.
e-query An electronic query. An e-query is less formal than a traditional mailed query, and gets to the point of the letter faster. The language can be somewhat less formal but should accomplish the same goals as a regular query letter.
e-submission An electronic submission. In general, these are pasted into the body of an e-mail (to fend off potential virus attachments) in ASCII (text only) format.
evergreen A story or article that is recycled year after year, and is usually run to coincide with certain seasons. Almost every consumer publication carries some type of evergreen, whether it is an annual story on weight loss or one on Christmas baking.
e-zine An online magazine. Some of these have print counterparts, but predominantly, they are limited to web distribution.
F
fact checker A staff member employed by a publication to check the facts in every article before it is printed. Fact checkers use the source list submitted by the writer to verify the quotes, statistics, and other information that appear in the article.
fair use A provision in the copyright law that allows for limited copying of published works without permission. Because the law is subject to different interpretations, it is generally best to avoid quoting from copyrighted material.
feature article An article that is presented as a special attraction in a magazine, newspaper, or journal. This piece is usually the cover article, meaning that there is a mention of it on the cover of the publication. It is similar to a news story, and is usually written in the third person. In an academic journal, a feature article is designed to provide in-depth, comprehensive information on breakthrough thinking and its application in the reader’s world.
fiction A story invented by the imagination. Can include elements from real life. Example: A story you made up about your dog.
filler A short article of 200 words or less that does exactly what its name implies–it fills a space. Depending on the publication, fillers can range from news stories that don’t merit feature treatment to humor pieces, anecdotes, puzzles, jokes, and poems. These articles are usually written in third person and represent one of the best opportunities for a new writer to break into a publication.
First North American Serial Rights The rights most commonly granted in a contract. Also called First North American Serial Rights (FNASR), these rights grant the publisher of a periodical (a serial) the exclusive right to print an article first. After these rights expire, the writer is free to resell the article.
first person Writing that has the “I” viewpoint, meaning that it is seen from the writer’s point of view. First-person writing is used often in personal essays, humor pieces, and other articles that describe the writer’s direct experiences. This style builds a relationship with the reader, as if the writer were telling the story to a friend.
first serial rights The rights most commonly granted in a contract. Also called First North American Serial Rights (FNASR), these rights grant the publisher of a periodical (a serial) the exclusive right to print an article first. After these rights expire, the writer is free to resell the article.
FNASR The rights most commonly granted in a contract. Also called First North American Serial Rights (FNASR), these rights grant the publisher of a periodical (a serial) the exclusive right to print an article first. After these rights expire, the writer is free to resell the article.
format The manner in which a submitted article should be physically set up on the page. This information is often found in the writer’s guidelines, and covers such parameters as margins, line spacing, and font. When in doubt, use the standard one-inch margins, double-spacing, and an easy-to-read font like Times New Roman (12pt) or Courier (12pt).
G
genre A French word meaning sort or kind. A distinctive type or category of written work; epic, tragedy, comedy, novel, science-fiction, mystery, young adult, biography, etc. Example of use: “I write in the mystery fiction genre.”
H
header The information printed at the “head” of a submitted article, running along the top of the page. The header should include the article’s title or a keyword for the title, the writer’s last name, and the page number.
headline The title of an article. This short line should be kept to seven words or less, and use strong, active phrasing to encapsulate the piece and attract the attention of the reader. It is sometimes followed by a “subhead” that further explains the focus of the article.
homogeneous readership A readership in which everyone shares common beliefs and interests. This is often found in trade journals and other publications that are distributed to readers who work within the same field, but may also be found in small local newspapers.
hook The opening of an article or query letter that draws the reader in and interests him in the material.
how-to article A consumer-oriented article that provides step-by-step information on completing a physical or creative project–fixing a car, planting watermelons, or decorating a cake. Usually written in second person, these articles can range widely in word count.
human interest article. An article that touches the heart of readers. These are often stories of people overcoming tragedies, learning from setbacks, or caring for others
humor piece An article designed to entertain people and make them laugh. Most humor pieces are written in first person and run no longer than 1,000 words in length.
I
in-house Within a specific publication’s staff. Editors, for instance, may refer to “in-house style, “or specific articles may be written “in-house”–by the staff of the publication.
interview A conversation conducted by a writer for the purpose of eliciting facts and statements form another individual.  Interviews may be conducted in person, on the phone, by e-mail, by postal mail, or by fax.
invoice A bill sent to a publication by the freelance writer of an article after the piece has been completed and approved. Writers should always submit an invoice so there is a paper trail for all business transactions.
J
jargon Language that is used by a particular group, profession, or culture, especially when the words and phrases are not understood [meaningless] or used by other people such as “typesetters’ jargon”
K
kill fee A fee paid to the writer of an article if the publisher changes his mind and decides not to use the piece. Not all publications have the budget for kill fees.
L
lead The opening paragraph of an article. There are many different types of leads, but every lead should outline the story that follows and inspire the reader to read further.
lead time. See editorial lead time.
lead time The amount of time between an article’s deadline and its publication date. This can vary from two to nine months, depending on the publication.
letter of agreement letter of agreement. The letter from the editor buying or accepting the submitted or proposed article. Sometimes, this letter is used in lieu of a contract. When that is the case, it is important to make sure that all the usual terms of the contract are spelled out in the letter.
libel A written statement that damages a person’s reputation, character, or good name. The statement can appear in a letter, in an article, or even in a posting on an e-mail list or bulletin board. See also defamation; slander.
lifestyle section The section of a newspaper or other publication that deals with gardening, books, home interiors, food, and other topics that are not hard news.
M
managing editor The person at a publication who coordinates the different departments–such as the editorial department, art department, and typesetting department–to maintain a smooth production process and meet deadlines.
masthead The list of staff members–including editors, designers, and more–usually printed in the beginning pages of a magazine or newspaper.
MLA style. One of two main styles used for formatting academic papers, the other being APA style. MLA style is the one preferred by the Modern Language Association. Information on this style can be found in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.
morgue The industry term for a newspaper’s archives. A morgue usually has print or microfiche copies of articles that reporters can use for background research.
motion picture, television, and dramatic,  rights The right to sell an article or story for dramatic adaptation. Writers who have written human interest articles should try to retain these rights when signing a contract with a publication in case other media representatives are interested in the piece.
multiple submission The practice of sending out one article to more than one publication at the same time. This is also called a simultaneous submission.
N
news story A consumer-oriented article that provides serious coverage of a topical subject. Written in third person, these articles generally run 200 to 1,500 words in length, and rely on at least three sources to provide unbiased coverage.
newsletter A short collection of articles–usually four to eight pages in length–designed to provide quick information about a subject, giving readers an easy way to stay current on trends or literature. There are four main types of newsletters: consumer, professional, marketing, and association.
newspaper A publication that is issued on a daily or weekly basis, and contains current news, editorials, features, and usually advertising.
niche A well-defined area of interest or audience that is addressed by a publication. Often, secondary magazines hit niches by focusing on a specific industry, region, hobby, or profession.
non-fiction A factual account of a person, place, thing or event. Must be completely true. Example: An article that you wrote about how to buy a skate board.
nut graph The paragraph that sums up the general angle of an article, providing the essential points that the piece will cover. This is also referred to as the nut graph or theme graph.
O
off the record Comments made by an interview subject that are not part of the formal interview.  Comments made off the record should not be printed by a writer without permission from the interview subject.
one-time rights Rights granted in a contract that allow the publication to print an article only once. This is the best deal for the writer but is not very common.
op-ed piece A first-person article that expresses the writer’s opinion on a particular topic. Formally called an opinion-editorial, these articles usually run 400 to 600 words in length. Some op-eds offer a supporting viewpoint on an issue that was covered in an earlier article; others are written to inform readers about issues facing society or the neighborhood.
open circulation Readership that is not limited to subscription or membership In general, publications found on newsstands have an open circulation. See also circulation; closed circulation.
opinion-editorial. See op-ed piece.
outline A written summary that details how a proposed article will be constructed. Sometimes submitted with a query letter, the outline gives the editor a thorough picture of the research that has thus far been gathered, the interview subjects that will be contacted, and the angle that the writer will take. Large-circulation publications often require outlines or detailed query letters.
P
payment on acceptance A type of payment plan in which the writer is paid for his article when it is submitted to and approved by the editor.
payment on publication A type of payment plan in which the writer isn’t paid for his article until it appears in print. Because an article may not appear in print until months after its acceptance, this arrangement is not as beneficial to the writer as payment on acceptance.
periodical A magazine or journal published at regular intervals such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly.  Also called serial.
personal essay. A first-person consumer-oriented article on either a personal problem that the writer has faced and overcome, or a meaningful event. Sometimes referred to as a personal experience piece, these articles generally run 400 to 1,000 words in length
photo feature An article that is light on writing and heavy on photos, with the text serving only to explain the graphics. In general, the photographer or a staff writer is assigned to write the text for a photo feature.
pitch A letter or conversation in which a writer tries to persuade an editor to buy his article.
plagiarism The act of copying another person’s work and passing it off as your own.
press kit A folder–provided by a company, organization, or association–that provides information on the group itself. Such kits usually include industry statistics and lists of potential interview subjects, as well as explanations of industry terms and trends.
print rights A publisher’s rights, granted by contract, to print an article on paper, but not to distribute it in an electronic manner or post it on a website or e-zine.
publisher The person at a publication who oversees the entire operation.  At some publications,  the publisher may also serve as editor-in-chief.  Also, the business entity the edits, produces, markets, and otherwise makes available a printed and/or electronic publication.
Q
query letter A letter of inquiry sent to a publication by a freelance writer as a means of proposing an article idea to the publication. The query letter is designed both to sell the idea of the article and to convince the editor that the writer has the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the article. See also cover letter.
query package A package sent to a publication by a freelance writer for the purpose of selling an article idea. The package generally contains a query letter; published clips; and a self-addressed, stamped envelope; and may also include an outline of the article and an author biography. See also submission package.
R
refereed journal An academic journal at which all submitted articles are rigorously examined by an editorial review board before being accepted. Because the standards of refereed journals are so high, most new academic writers have greater success submitting their work to non-refereed journals.
reprint An article that previously appeared in one publication, and is later printed in another publication.
reprint rights The rights, granted in a contract, that permit the publisher to sell an article to another publication after it has appeared in the first one. These rights are also referred to as reprint rights.
round-up A short, consumer-oriented, third-person article that compiles responses from a variety of people on one subject, or in answer to a particular question. These articles generally run from 500 to 1,000 words in length. Sometimes, these articles are referred to as surveys and incorporate statistics, such as a percentage of respondents who gave one answer over another.
S
SASE  Self Addressed Stamped EnvelopeWhen asked to include an SASE with a submission, make sure you use the proper postage. There are different rates for outside the U.S., so check with your post office. Never send money for someone to read your work.
SASP Self Addressed Stamped Postcard When asked to include an SASP with a submission, make sure you use the proper postage. There are different rates for outside the U.S., so check with your post office. Never send money for someone to read your work.
second person Writing that has the “you” viewpoint by addressing the reader. This is common in how-to articles–pieces that give advice or information.
second serial rights The rights, granted in a contract, that permit the publisher to sell an article to another publication after it has appeared in the first one. These rights are also referred to as reprint rights.
secondary magazine A medium-sized consumer magazine that focuses on a specific niche, or area of interest, and therefore covers a secondary market. Secondary magazines usually fill the gaps left by large magazines, which try to address the needs of many different kinds of readers.
section editor An editor in charge of one section of a publication, such as health or books.
serial A magazine or journal published at regular intervals such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly.  Also called periodical.
Self Addressed Stamped Envelope Self Addressed Stamped EnvelopeWhen asked to include an SASE with a submission, make sure you use the proper postage. There are different rates for outside the U.S., so check with your post office. Never send money for someone to read your work.
Self Addressed Stamped Postcard Self Addressed Stamped Postcard When asked to include an SASP with a submission, make sure you use the proper postage. There are different rates for outside the U.S., so check with your post office. Never send money for someone to read your work.
service piece A consumer-oriented third-person article that falls into the how-to category, but goes further than just explaining how to do something by informing, educating, and advising the audience about an important issue or life skill like investing, working, or making a purchase. A service piece generally runs 500 words in length or more.
sidebar A short piece that accompanies an article and provides helpful hints, resources, or a summary of the article’s main points. These boxes of information are set apart from the main article and are usually less than 200 words in length.
simultaneous submission The practice of sending out one article to more than one publication at the same time. This is also called a multiple submission.
slander A spoken statement that damages a person’s reputation, character, or good name. See also defamation; libel.
slant The defined approach taken in an article by the writer. Also called an angle, this is one facet of the larger topic on which the writer has chosen to focus.
slush pile The term used to describe the stack of unsolicited articles–articles that were not requested by an editor. Articles in the slush pile are usually read by an editorial assistant.
solicited Requested. A solicited article has been requested by an editor, usually in response to a query letter sent by a freelance writer.
source list. The list of sources used by a writer in researching an article. The list should include contact information for all interview subjects, as well as bibliographic data for each website, book, newspaper, or other publication from which the writer gleaned information for the article. This list is often submitted to the publication’s fact checker so that he can verify all information.
staff reporter A writer hired by a newspaper to cover a particular beat. In the early days of newspapers, this person was sometimes called a “stringer.”
style sheet A sheet that details the style and format preferred by a publication. Academic publications usually use either MLA style or APA style. Consumer and trade publications usually prefer either AP style or Chicago style.
submission guidelines The set of rules for submitting articles to a particular publication. Sometimes referred to as submission guidelines, they provide specific information about formatting, grammar, and style, and also provide payment information and contract terms. It is important to always study a publication’s guidelines before submitting. By writing in the style prescribed by the publication, you can increase your chances of acceptance. Writer’s guidelines can be obtained by directly contacting the publication itself, and in some cases may also be found on the publication’s website or the website of Writer’s Market. See also  writers guidelines.
submission package A package that is sent by a freelance writer to a publication for the purpose of selling an already-written article to the publication. Generally, this package includes a cover letter; a copy of the article; published clips, if any; and, in the case of an academic article, a curriculum vitae. See also query package.
syndicate An agency that sells the same article simultaneously to different newspaper outlets. These articles are then printed in numerous publications throughout the country. Most syndicate writers are established experts who have built up years of experience in their chosen area of focus.
T
tearsheet An original copy of a printed article “torn” from the publication’s pages. Most editors send writers complete copies of the publication, known as author copies, instead of tearsheets.
technical article A third-person article, written for a trade journal, that covers issues which the typical layman’s publication wouldn’t examine in its articles. Technical articles vary in length, depending on the material being covered, and always use industry-specific language.
 television, dramatic, and motion picture rights The right to sell an article or story for dramatic adaptation. Writers who have written human interest articles should try to retain these rights when signing a contract with a publication in case other media representatives are interested in the piece.
text only format Also known as ASCII format, this format strips a file of all formatting–boldface, italics, etc.–and converts it to a single-spaced, plain document that can be read by most software programs.  See ASCII format
theme graph The paragraph that sums up the general angle of an article, providing the essential points that the piece will cover. This is also referred to as the nut graph or billboard paragraph.
third person The most distant of all writing forms. In this type of writing, “he,” “she,” and “they” are the pronouns used. Third-person writing is generally employed in objective articles such as news stories and feature articles, and is sometimes used in interview/profile pieces as well. It is appropriate when the writer is trying to present important information or show an unbiased front.
tips article An article that provides readers with hints and advice in a quick, easy-to-read format. Specifically, these pieces tell the reader how to do something better or more economically. They are common in consumer magazines.
topic The subject of an article. This should be narrowed and tightened until the writer develops a specific angle that will appeal to the readers of the target publication.
trade journal A magazine or small newspaper published specifically for people in certain businesses or professions to increase career and business knowledge. Unlike an academic journal, a trade journal is designed to help readers better run their business or perform their job.
U
unsolicited Not requested. An unsolicited article is sent by a freelance writer to a publication without being asked to do so. It then remains in a slush pile until someone–usually an editorial assistant–is able to review it and determine its suitability for the publication.
V
W
web site A server computer that makes documents available on the world wide web (www).  Most commonly thought of as a group of informational pages belonging to a person or organization with a domain name [their dot-com address] that are available on the world wide web.  See also our computer terms, jargon and acronyms page.
wire service A service, such as Associated Press, that electronically distributes news and articles to newspapers and magazines around the country. For many publications, buying a story from a wire service costs a fraction of the price paid to a freelance writer, making wire service stories an economical choice.
word count The number of words in the article, not including the headline or byline. Because space is such an important commodity in the article world, it is vital to provide the editor with an accurate word count that comes within a few words of the requested count.
work for hire A contractual arrangement in which the employer or other person or company for whom the writing is prepared is considered the author, and owns all of the rights to the work. Many staff reporters and copywriters sign such contracts, preventing them from reprinting any of the work they produce while employed with that company.
writer’s guidelines The set of rules for submitting articles to a particular publication. Sometimes referred to as submission guidelines, they provide specific information about formatting, grammar, and style, and also provide payment information and contract terms. It is important to always study a publication’s guidelines before submitting. By writing in the style prescribed by the publication, you can increase your chances of acceptance. Writer’s guidelines can be obtained by directly contacting the publication itself, and in some cases may also be found on the publication’s website or the website of Writer’s Market. See also submission guidelines.