CTAs, body copy and pull quotes: copywriting lingo explained

Lingo. It’s so easy to use when you’re surrounded by it all day. Whatever industry you’re in, it’s likely that there are certain terms, acronyms and so on that everyone uses. And because you hear them all the time, you start to feel like everyone understands it.

The problem is, when it comes to your customers and clients, that’s not always the case. Even I’ve fallen into this trap. The other day a client admitted she’d read a word on one of our blog posts that she hadn’t understood and was too shy to ask.

So by way of apology and in order to help you better understand some of the words your copywriter, marketing agency or even designer might use, here is a glossary of copywriting terms that are worth knowing:

Body copy: The main section of text on a page, as opposed to the peripheral text such as the headline, standfirst, subheads and so on.

Brief: A written document that sets out what is required from the job, giving the copywriter something to follow.

Call to action (CTA): The part of the copy that actually tells people what it is they should do e.g. buy now, sign up, call us etc.

Content: Any kind of marketing device that people actually want to engage with e.g. social media posts, blog posts, videos etc. as opposed to the more intrusive marketing materials like banner ads and junk mail flyers.

Copy: Simply put, written text. Most often the word is used to refer to either marketing or journalistic text.

Copywriting: The act of writing persuasive text in order to further a business goal.

Evergreen content: Content that is not linked to a particular date or time, so can be reused some months or even years later.

Headline: A short sentence at the top of a piece of copy that summarises the main message of the content.

Para: Paragraph – a group of sentences arranged together without a break.

Pull quote: A line of text that is ‘pulled out’ of the body copy and used as a graphic feature to catch people’s eye and draw them in.

Sidebar: A graphically separate section of text, smaller than the body copy, that is used to give more information. Also known as a box out.

Standfirst: A short paragraph of text that sits below a headline and is used to convey a bit more information about what is contained in the body copy.

Subhead: A line of text that is used to separate large chunks of text into more manageable bites, usually formatted in a larger or bolder font. In websites they take the H2 format which is important for SEO.

Strapline: A short sentence that helps convey the essence of a brand. For example, our strapline is: “You don’t need many words, just the right ones.” Also known as a tagline.

Are there any other terms you’re not sure of the meaning of? Let us know on social (we’re on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Instagram) and we’ll be sure to provide a definition.

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