Glossary of magazine terms and jargon

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


Quickcut   delivery system for digital advertising files.
quire   a bundle of 26 newspapers

order of first five keys along top row of a standard keyboard


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rate base   guaranteed sales of a magazine on which the advertising rate is set
rate card

brochures showing costs, positions, mechanical data and deadlines for advertisers
RDA   retail display allowance. Money US publishers pay to retailers to guarantee that their titles are displayed

the percentage of a target market that reads a particular magazine or advert

how many people read a magazine, as opposed to how many buy it
rebus   A puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and letters; for example, monkey might be represented by apicture of a monk followed by a letter E. Historically, it was an ornamental device associated with a person to whose name it punningly alludes
regional edition

version of a national magazine with a special section dedicated to a geographical area with its own advertising content

rate at which subscribers renew their subscriptions

reproduction. The film and plate-making stages in the production process
repro once

the trend towards an image only being scanned once, for example by a picture agency, and then  being provided to publishers as digital file

taking editorial content from one media and reconfiguring it to work in another
retail sales value   total revenue received by shops for seling a particular magazine. RSV = average circulation x cover price x frequency

unsold magazines that are returned to distributors by newsagents
reverse publishing   the act of taking material submitted by readers, for example in response to a blog, and publishing it in a printed publication. In use in the Financial Times in February 2006
revistas del corazon   'magazines of the heart'. Spanish celebrity magazines such as Hola!
revistas de tendencias   'trend magazines' in Spain

Right-hand (page)
RHFM   right-hand (page), facing (editorial) matter
a publication's ownership of a writer's work, specifically noted in terms of frequency (how many times), location (where in the world), what media, distribution manner (print, electronic) and length of time
raster image processor. Converts digital file (Postscript data) into a set of lines (raster) that can be processed by an imagesetter
ROP   1) run of publication: the publisher will place an advert anywhere in a magazine. 2) run of print. The publisher will put inserts in any of the magazines in a run, rather than guaranteeing copies will go to a specific region

high speed printing process which transfers image to paper with ink retained in depressions in plate
RSI   repetitive strain injury: disability caused by excessive typing
RSV   see retail sales value
the number of copies printed
extra copies added to a standard print run
running sheets

printed sections of a magazine as they come off the printing press, before they are bound

Readable-Writable. CD or DVD which can save and overwrite data, just like a floppy disc. Also known as CD-Ram

A process whereby a reporter rewrites a story published elsewhere and attempts to pass it off as original work. This has become a big problem on the web - and the basis of the strategy of many websites, including Wikipedia. It's always gone on - and such techniques were vital to the development of the weekly press, such as Tit-Bits, in the Victorian era


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sans tabou   without taboo (French). Invasive celebrity photography

a marketing technique whereby people are assigned to certain groups - segments - as a way of determining their likely behaviour in response to advertising and other marketing techniques. Ways of determining segments include:

  • psychographic attributes such as personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles (also called IAO variables - Interests, Attitudes and Opinions). VALS uses this technique;
  • demographic variables such as age, gender, postal code and income. ACORN uses postcode classification;
  • behavioural variables such as frequency of buying or loyalty.

Many magazines will design their editorial strategies to appeal to certain segments.

sells   sentence after a headline and before an article begins that 'sells' a feature to a reader. Used in NatMags job advertising as 'heads and sells'. A standfirst
SHRDLU   first five keys along top row of a hot metal typesetting keyboard

short article related to main topic on page, usually in a box or given a special typographical treatment
silly season   the summer month of August in the UK is very quiet for news and advertising and is so-called because stories and pictures get in the papers that would not do so at other times of the year
SOAP   story origination and planning. Term used by Magnum photographer David Hurn in his time running the School of Documentary Photography at Gwent College of Higher Education in Newport, Wales
spike   metal stake about 6in long on which rejected sheets of copy are impaled by editors
'a spike of editors'   term used by one of the first five editors of the Daily Express to describe the group when they met for a lunch in 1962. The five were (in 61 years): RD Blumental (who had died a few years earlier); Sir Beverley ('Bax') Baxter, MP; Arthur ('Chris') Christiansen; Edward ('Pick'/'Ted') Pickering (who had just vacated the position for a managerial post, was later knighted and became a long-time confidante of Rupert Murdoch); and Roger Wood
standfirst   sentence after a headline and before an article begins that 'sells' a feature to a reader

attention-grabbing panel, so-called because originally words put on star-shaped background
subs   subscriptions


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insertion of codes in data that will be interpreted by other software
Paul Tanfield   name of diary column in the Daily Mail until 1962. Like most such newspaper columns, it was written by a team of people. The name came from the Mail building in Edinburgh, Tanfield. Column was replaced by Charles Greville (named after a diarist and biographer of George IV), which was written by Quentin Crewe. Similarly literary references were behind William Hickey (lawyer, man about town and early C19th memoirist) on the Express and Henry Fielding (novelist and playwright) on the Herald
image file format (.tga)
Transmission Code Protocol/Internet Protocol. Governs the way data is transmitted across the internet

to come; used where a picture or text has yet to arrive

selling advertising over the telephone

Target Group Index. Yearly research data on buying habits and media usage (UK)
'thud factor'   the fact that a magazine comes across as having a satisfactory weight when it hits a table; it will be perceived as having value for money

Tagged Image File Format. Widely used picture file format (.tif) for transferring images between different applications and computer platforms


card or other object stuck on to a page


to come (US). See t/c
TNS Superpanel   consumer research panel sun by TNS (Taylor-Nelson Sofres) in London. 15,000 households record grocery buying patterns twice a week using electronic scanning terminals
TOC   table of contents
TOTs   'triumph over tragedy.' Popular type of true-life article in magazines and newspapers
trim marks
guides showing where printed pages will be trimmed once bound

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