Glossary of magazine terms and jargon

This is a glossary of terms and jargon used in magazines and magazine publishing. It has been quoted by the PPA in Mag Scene, the organisation's careers guide. NB: terminology varies between industries, titles and internationally
Use Ctrl-F to find specific words on this page.

megabyte. Approx a million bytes

megabit. Approx a million bits
a computer routine that carries out a sequence of tasks
periodical that is published frequently. In 1755, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary defined the word in its publishing sense: 'Of late this word has signified a miscellaneous pamphlet, from a periodical miscellany named the Gentleman's Magazine, by Edward Cave.' 
Magazine Publishing Association (MPA)
group that represents US consumer magazine publishers. Established in 1919
magazination   the process whereby newspaper have becomee to look more and more like magazines since the 1990s

 preparing the printing press for a production run
managing editor
journalist who carries out managerial tasks on behalf of the editor. Usually includes production and budgetary duties, while still having writing and editing responsibilities
manga   Japanese comic books. Sectors include: bijinesu manga - business manga; bunkashi - literary; manga magazine - manga-zasshi; ecchi/hentai - for adults (abbreviated to h-manga). Manga sometimes called komikku (because it sounds like the English comic), hence rediizu komikku, comics for women
carrying out advertising, publicity, public relations and events campaigns to promote a magazine to readers, advertisers or the distribution trade
MARS   Magazines Add Real Sales. PPA-run 2005 research study aiming to show advertisers when buyers actually read magazines

magazine and newspaper mascots include:

  • Lilliput's covers until 1950 were illustrated by Walter Trier and each showed a man, a woman, and a dog
  • Mr Punch glove puppet for Punch from 1941 to 2002
  • Gnitty, the masthead mascot of Private Eye, invented by one of the Eye's founders, Willie Rushton. It depicts a sad-looking Crusader (which was the mascot of the Daily Express newspaper) based on John Wells
  • Lord Gnome, imaginary proprietor of Private Eye
  • Esky on Esquire
  • Eustace Tilley, the dandy on The New Yorker
  • Alfred E. Neuman, the freckled boy on Mad
  • Mrs Exeter in Vogue
  • Sylvester P. Smythe is the 'caretaker' on Cracked

1 the name of a publication traditionally printed at the top of the first editorial page, often as a logo and often accompanied by issue number and date

2 the word has evolved to encompass the box that gives details of the publisher, staff and contact information. Different publishers put this information in different places: on the contents page or on the leader page or on one of the pages near the back of a magazine. Again, it is often acompanied by the magazine's logo

3 also used for the logo - the name of the magazine in its chosen font on the front cover

colour proofing system. Trademark of 3M
media pack

 promotional material to help sell advertising space
phenomenon of a colour looking different under different lighting conditions
methods of communication used for information and entertainment, such as print, television, radio and the internet 
media pack
information used by a publisher to attract advertisers. Usually includes: data on circulation; advertising rates; editorial policy; copy of the magazine 
media quadmap
chart that plots; the profile of a magazine against two criteria, such as the age and socio-economic group of its readers 
meg   see megazine
mega   standard international unit prefix meaning a million; generally , something very large
megazine   Special issue of a title devoted to a single subject. The Judge Dredd Megazine was a spin-off from 2000 AD in October 1990 (Dredd lived in Mega City 1). Also, 'Life ... began publishing special newsstand "megazine" issues on topics such as 9/11 and the Holy Land in 2001. These issues, which were printed on thicker paper, were more like softcover books than magazines.' [Wikipedia]
selling of products other than magazines by a publisher, for example, T-shirts

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Mobizine   Platform for cut-down versions of magazines that can be downloaded to mobile phone. Trademark by Refresh Mobile
MOdulator DEModulator. Device for converting digital data into pulses to be sent down telephone lines and converting them back again 
mook   Publications that are more thorough than magazines and more timely than books. Derived from 'magazine' and 'book' (Japan)
Magazine Publishers Association (US)
abbreviation of manuscript: the raw copy provided by writers


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net   used as opposed to gross. A net figure is lower than gross. For example, a net sales figure for a magazine would exclude unsod copies, 'returns'. London Opinion in 1914 carried a short humorous item: 'The Daily Mail says that when they [other publoishers] won't publish the net sales it looks fishy' ('Whipped Topics, 6 June). At the time, the Mail was trying to establish more creditable circulation figures and declared that its figures were audited by an accountant and that they were net sales, rather than the number distributed (unsold copies would take weeks to be returned)
net paid circulation

total paid circulation, either through single copy newsstand sales or subscription in ABC reports. Payment must be not less that half of the cover or subscription price
Neuman, Alfred E.   mascot for Mad in the form of a freckled boy
new media

digital media such as CD-Rom, websites, broadcast e-mail and web casting

cheapest type of printing paper. Produced from wood pulp. Typically 45 g/sq m
NFRN   National Federation of Retail Newsagents (UK)
non-heatset printing

uncoated paper absorbs ink, so heat is no needeed to dry the pages after printing
non-paid circulation

free copies of a publication sent to individuals who meet certain criteria set by a publisher

National Readership Survey. Matches newspaper and magazine buying patterns to demographic data. Published yearly (UK). NRS Xtra is a separate survey of about 50 computer titles


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OBC (BC) outside back cover

Optical Character Recognition for scanning in text into computer. Text can then be edited
official organ

a periodical for members of an association or group
offset litho lithography or offset printing

main printing method for UK magazines. Ink from image on litho plate is transferred to a rubber blanket, which then comes into contact with the paper
OJD   Office de Justification de la Diffusion de la Presse Payante. French organisation tracks circulations (
open prepress interface (OPI)

computer system that enables allows files to be shared across a network and replaces printing-quality files with lower-resolution versions for production work
opens   the number of times a digitalmagazine is 'opened'. See 'publication opened criteria'

preprinted material attached to the exterior of a magazine or inserted with the magazine into
a plastic bag for posting

costs of running a business that are not directly  related to the business, for example the costs of heating and lighting

extra copies above the set print run that are charged to the publisher at a 'run-on' rate

a proofing system whereby light-sensitive paper takes an image from the black printing film


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software from Adobe for typesetting and page layout
pagination   the number of pages in a publication. Simple in theory, but not in practice. Some publishers number the covers, some don't. So the total number of pages in a magazine with 96 as the page opposite the inside back cover may be 96+2 (back covers) or 96+4 (front and back covers). This may be complicated by the use of gatefold covers and bound-in inserts; or special sections (which sometimes have separate numbering). A magazine with a total of 100 pages is common because it is very efficient for printing purposes: 6 x 16-page sections plus cover
paid circulation

copies of magazine copies that are sold through news agents or subscriptions
paper sizes   the ISO range of A, B and C sizes is used in Europe. A4 is the most common size of sheet used for office stationery. It measures 210x297mm and is approximately the size of most magazines. In practice, consumer magazines are printed on presses that use reels of paper - imagine a very large toilet roll of paper - called webs. The printed paper is cut, folded and trimmed, so the actual size of a magazine page varies between titles. Short-run magazines are produced on presses that are fed with RA or SRA sheets, each of which is slightly larger to allow for gripping, ink bleeding and trimming. So SRA3 trims down to A3 size. For more details, see Bob's Print Guide. US titles are still based on the Imperial measurement system of feet and inches.

colour specification and matching system developed by US company of the same name
pass-along reader

someone who reads a publication that was purchased by someone else. Typically, there are 3 readers to each magazine sold, though the figure can be much higher
Paternoster Row / Square   area near St Paul's Cathedral in London that was the centre of the publishing industry until it was destroyed by bombers in The Blitz in 1942. Answers to Correspondents, the magazine that founded the Harmsworth magazine and newspaper empire, had its first office at 26 Paternoster Square, premises it had taken over from WB Horner & Son, publisher of Horner’s Penny Stories and Woman's Own and many religious tracts

Portable Document Format. File format used by Adobe's Acrobat
perfect binding

printed sections are laid on top of one another, glued at one edge and held together by a cover to produce a square spine. More expensive than saddle-stitching, but has a perceived higher quality

a publication with a fixed interval between issues
Periodical Publishers Association  (PPA)

trade body representing magazine publishers in the UK
Periodicals Training Council   UK careers and training body run by the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA)
PIB   Publishers Information Bureau. Tracks advertising carried by consumer magazines in the US

unit of typographical measurement; six picas equal one inch
picture-snatcher   a person once employed by UK newspapers with the disreputable job of finding pictures of people in news stories, for example, by stealing them from a home or even a police record
pink sheet

publisher's statement (printed on pink paper) of circulation over a six-month period that is certified by the ABC (US)
PiP   pricing in proportion. Royal Mail package charging system based on size and format rather than weight since 21 August 2006

Printing Industries Research Association. Carries out technical research on behalf of printing, packaging and publishing companies. Based in Leatherhead, UK

flexible metal or plastic sheet that carries the page image in the printing process

photo-mechanical transfer. Technology of paper-based typesetting using light-sensitive paper to carry images
point of sale material

promotional posters, shelf-talkers, etc, supplied to shops to attract consumers to buy a magazine

website that aims to act as a general or subject-specific entry point to the web. Magforum is a magazine industry portal

repro film that reproduces the original image's light and shade (as opposed to negative)

computer language for describing images as mathematical curves. Trademark of Adobe

see Periodical Publishers Association
pre-clipped coupon

advertiser's coupon that is printed separately and inserted into a publication or bound in
preferred position

the page where an advertiser would like his copy to appear (though is not guaranteed)
premium position

page in a magazine for which a higher advertising rate is charged
prensa rosa   'pink press'. Celebrity magazines in Spain, such as Hola!
presse people   celebrity magazine sector in France

processes involved in the manufacture of a magazine, from making of film through to printing and binding

activities carried out to assist advertising sales department or distributors in meeting sales targets

evidence provided in the form of a copy of a page to demonstrate that typesetting or printing work has been carried out as specified in advance of print run

the checking of proofs to ensure writers and designers work has been accurately carried out
PTC   see Periodicals Training Council
'publication opened' criteria   measure of how many times a digital magazine has been opened being developed with ABCe and software providers such as Ceros. Includes filters to eliminate 'opens' made by the publisher and spy techniques that aim to ensure the figures are accurate

1. the person responsible for the profitability of a publication
2. a publishing company
Publishers Row (US)   nickname for part of Sixth Avenue in New York's Manhattan district where many US publishers, such as Time, News Corp, McGraw-Hill and Simon & Schuster, have offices
publisher's statement

stated sales figure that has not been audited
pull quote

phrase or sentence taken from an article and used to attract a reader's attention by setting it in a larger type size

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