Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site


If you were a fly on the wall in a newspaper office, you'd hear editors, writers, and artists using a number of special terms in their work. Some have slipped into everyday language; for example, ``Mind your p's and q's'' (meaning ``be careful'') was originally a warning to people preparing type to not mix up the similar-looking letters. Some newspaper terms have been used for decades, even centuries. And as technology changes and computers replace typewriters and paste pots, new words and phrases come into use.

Here are some terms used at the Monitor and at other newspapers:

About these ads

BEAT: A subject that a writer specializes in writing about, such as science, politics, or movies. BYLINE: The name of the writer at the beginning of the story. Some newspapers, like the Monitor, nearly always say who the writer is; others don't. CUT: A photograph. Before photography was invented, newspapers used drawings made by woodcuts to illustrate stories. CUTLINE: Captions underneath photos that give information about the photo. DATELINE: The place from which the story is written and, in some papers such as The New York Times, the date it was written. Years ago some newspaper stories arrived by mail and might be published several days after they were written. FLACK: A press agent assigned by a government agency or a business to deal with reporters. FLAG: The name of the newspaper, also called the nameplate, usually across the top of Page 1 (this newspaper's flag is The Christian Science Monitor.) JUMP: When a story continues onto another page, it jumps to that page. KICKER: A smaller headline above the main headline; also called a teaser or an eyebrow. MASTHEAD: Information about the newspaper's address, managers, editors, and rates. The Monitor's masthead is on Page 2 every day. TABLOID or TAB: A half-sized or compact newspaper, like the Monitor. A full-sized newspaper is called a broadsheet. SIDEBAR: A smaller companion story next to the main story. It might profile a person or explain one aspect of the main article (this story is a sidebar). STRINGER: A writer not on the newspaper staff paid for each story he or she writes. In the Monitor, stringers' bylines say ``Special to.'' TICKLE: To make a note about a news item that might make a good story because of further events later. A file or book to keep these notes in is called a tickler. WIDOW: A single word on a line by itself. Editors try to rewrite stories to get rid of widows to save space (there are six widows in this story).

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.