03. Glossary

Professional journalists communicate using a technical vocabulary that dates back to when the printing press was first invented in Europe. Such vocabulary has lasted through the ages, and is used in every media. Such specific language is based on word families that correspond to the steps through which a newspaper is built. 

Sharing the same language is sharing a savoir-faire.


The article (« story ») : a text written for publication.
The angle : the way a story is treated.
The lead : the opening sentence, meant to catch the reader’s attention.
The body copy : the text, the interior pages… also a character size.
The final sentence : exactly what it says on the tin.


Opinion piece : a small article in which the writer takes a stance.
Short news item (or brief) : Untitled small piece of news.
Bulletin : unsigned commentary stating the newspaper’s stance.
Column: an original piece, published regularly, by a respected author.
Correspondence : article transmitted by a correspondent.
Wire story : information sent by a news agency.
Editorial : opinion piece from the owner of the newspaper or the editor in chief.
Investigation : exposé, analysis and decryption of information obtained through various channels.
Filler : a copy use to fill space.
Box : a short paragraph enclosed by lines so as to grab the reader’s attention.
Interview : a Q&A.
Obituary : post-mortem.
Report : story & testimonies obtained through fieldwork. 
Advertorial : advertisement treated as a report. 
Scoop : exclusive, groundbreaking news.


Kicker : a few short words, an attention-grabbing sentence written over a major headline. 
Headline : biggest text, a summary thought up to catch the reader’s eye.
Subhead (or deck) : headline incorporated in the body. 
Byline : the author’s name, printed at the beginning of the article.
Cutline (or caption) : information describing a picture.
Credit line : name of the photographer.


Omission : forgetting one or various words in the article.
Typo : short for typographical error.
Repetition : a typo consisting in the repetition of a same sign, word, sentence.
Transposition : mixing up typographic signs.
Air : white space.
Widow : a single word that carries onto the next page or to the final sentence of the paragraph.


Box : text framed to give it prominence.
Footer : end of the page.
Gutter : the vertical space running between columns.
Header : top of the page.
Jump : a story continued from one page to another.


Flag : the newspaper logo, on the front page.
Masthead : header that features the name of the newspaper on the front page.
Mast : Section head.
Folio : At the top of the pages, the date, and the number of the page. 
Banner : a very large headline.
Ears : spaces located on each size of the top of the page.


Putting to bed : last step before the presses start printing.
Calibration : copy length.
Flatplan : overview of the newspaper that indicates, page by page, where the articles and the ads are located. 
Galley : final proof print before publication.
L.H. (« Last Hour») : last page of a newspaper.
TK : “to come”.
Proof : printed newspaper page.
Sheet : copy measuring unit. 25 lines containing 60 characters, spaces included, that is to say 1500 characters.
Dummy : diagram of a newspaper page, draft layout.
Evergreen : a timeless story that doesn’t need to be published straight away.
Budget : list of the articles for the newspaper published the following day.
Layout : overview of the page indicating copy, picture and ad placement.
Credits : box containing legal info on the newspaper’s owner and organization.
“Hot” pages : pages dedicated to breaking news.
Table of contents : what you’ll find in the newspaper.


Don’t “spread”: don’t write as if you were spreading jam on toast. 
Don’t “pad”: don’t use a hundred words to say something that can be told in 50 words.
Don’t make stuff up : seriously, that’s a cardinal sin.