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 the PPA. 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
QWERTY order of first five keys along top row of a standard keyboard


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
reach the percentage of a target market that reads a particular magazine or advert
readership 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 a picture 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
renewals rate at which subscribers renew their subscriptions
repro 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
repurposing 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
returns 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
RH Right-hand (page)
RHFM right-hand (page), facing (editorial) matter
rights 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
RIP 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
roto 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
run the number of copies printed
run-on 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
RW Readable-Writable. CD or DVD which can save and overwrite data, just like a floppy disc. Also known as CD-Ram
Ripping 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


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
'shaky-vision' term coined by Private Eye to describe dodgy colour printing on Eddy Shah’s Today newspaper in 1985, the first in Britain to be printed in colour, caused by poor registration between the four printing colours
SHRDLU nickname given to Linotype hot metal typesetting keyboards, based on one of the columns of letters. The phrase 'ETAOIN SHRDLU', made up of two of the columns of keys – which were set out by the most frequently used characters – was sometimes used for sample setting. The rival Monotype keyboards were based on the conventional QWERTY layout
sidebar 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
specimen copy copy of a magazine sent out to a potential advertiser or subscriber. A sample copy taken from a print run for approval by the publisher before distribution
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
'Star! News! Stann’d!' call of the newspaper boys and street vendors in the 1950s when there were three evening papers in London: The Star (1888-1960), founded by the MP and journalist TP O'Connor; the Evening News (1881-1980), and the Evening Standard (1827-)
starburst attention-grabbing panel, so-called because words are often put on a star-shaped background
subs subscriptions. Sub-editors


tagging 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
Targa image file format (.tga)
TCP/IP Transmission Code Protocol/Internet Protocol. Governs the way data is transmitted across the internet
t/c to come; used where a picture or text has yet to arrive
telesales selling advertising over the telephone
TGI 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
TIFF Tagged Image File Format. Widely used picture file format (.tif) for transferring images between different applications and computer platforms
tip-on card or other object stuck on to a page
TK (copy or picture) to come (US). See t/c
TNS Superpanel consumer research panel run 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
type sizes modern type foundries and digital systems base type sizes on the point system. A point is about 1/72 of an inch and there are six picas to an inch.
Before the standardisation based on the US point system in the 20th century, type sizes varied among foundries. There was, however, a system of naming type sizes:
  • 3pt minikin
  • 4pt brilliant
  • 4.25pt gem
  • 3 minikin
  • 4 brilliant
  • 4.25 gem
  • 4.5 diamond (half bourgeois)
  • 5 pearl
  • 5.5 ruby
  • 6 nonpareil
  • 6.5 emerald
  • 7 minion
  • 8 brevier
  • 9 bourgeois
  • 10 long primer
  • 11 small pica
  • 12 pica
  • 14 English
  • 18 great primer
  • 20 paragon
  • 22 double small pica
  • 24 double pica
Sherlock Holmes refers to type sizes in Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles, first published in The Strand from August 1901 to April the following year:
There is as much difference to my eyes between the leaded bourgeois type of a Times article and the slovenly print of an evening half-penny paper as there could be between your negro and your Esquimau. The detection of types is one of the most elementary branches of knowledge to the special expert in crime, though I confess that once when I was very young I confused the Leeds Mercury with the Western Morning News. But a Times leader is entirely distinctive, and these words could have been taken from nothing else.