Jumping into a freelance writing career is very exciting. Bursting with ideas, writers sit down in front of their computers anxious to discover what this wide, wonderful world has in store for them. Unfortunately, they often find tons of advice full of industry lingo that can be a bit confusing. Here is the first in the latest Article Quickie series designed to help you hit the ground running:
AP Stylebook or AP Style
Called the journalist’s bible, the AP Stylebook is a listing of how things like grammar, religions, titles, times etc. should be written within the text of an article. It was designed to make writing simple, uniform and unbiased within the newspaper industry, however many magazines and websites have adopted the guide as well. It’s my personal fave and I like to thumb through it on a regular basis for entertainment purposes, yes I am a nerd.
One of the main reasons why we do what we do – that little line below the title or way at the bottom of the post that reads “By Terreece M. Clarke” or, of course, your name. Some sites will offer to pay you in byline, but I have yet to find a mortgage company that accepts bylines instead of actual government currency – go figure.
Call-out Box or Pull-Out
A killer quote will often be placed in a call-out box. Some will use the term interchangeably with “pull-out quote.” The graphics department takes the killer quote i.e. “Yeah, so then I shot the bastard for looking at me.” and makes it pretty using a larger font, different color, or literally a colored box. How they do it depends on the publication and writers usually don’t have a say in how it looks.
Chicago Manual of Style
A system of proper notation, citation, manuscript formatting that serves as a guideline for academics, book authors and publishers. Some magazines and websites do use the Chicago guide instead of AP Style and it would be wise for authors to have a working knowledge of both styles and more importantly, their differences.
The catch-22 of freelance writing: a writer needs clips to get a gig, but you can’t get clips until you get a gig!” A clip is an example of your published work. Whether a blog post or a magazine article, it is defined as work you have done for a publication a self-published piece i.e. personal blog is normally not accepted. *See Writing Sample
Magazines that are for the general public are called consumer magazines. Men’s Health, O, Cosmopolitan, XXL, Playboy, etc. are consumer magazines. They are also called ‘glossies’. For some, these are the Holy Grail of bylines, competition to get in is usually fierce, but it is a fluid industry. Magazines are born and die every week and editors change positions and places of businesses more often than soap opera characters change bed partners.
Content or web content to be specific, describes a genre that creates information specifically designed for websites. This work is different than paper articles. The pieces are usually shorter, smaller paragraphs and written to be high on keywords for the search engine rankings.
Copywriters write info with an eye on selling a particular product or service. The blurbs on the back cover of books, sales letters, eye-catching billboards – all copywriting. The length of the material depends on the project.
In school it meant a cheat sheet for the test, in the magazine world it means a listing of a magazine’s in-house style guide. For example, one magazine’s guide may require the magazine’s name always written in all caps or a tech journal may list their preference on how the word ‘email’ is written (e-mail vs email).
Any A – C terms I missed? Let me know and watch for D – G tomorrow!