Copywriting Glossary


Here are some words and phrases you'll come across in your career as a copywriter.

Google's program that offers advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads. Copy for an AdWords piece consists of a 25-character headline and two text lines of 35 characters each.



The measurement of site statistics including the number of visitors, how they arrived, and how much time they spend on the site.


The graphic, photo, or illustration used in an ad.


Art Director
The person responsible for the design and layout of an ad. Also known as designer or web designer.



When the goal of an ad is to bring attention to a brand, rather than calling direct action to a specific product or service. For example, the Apple “I’m a Mac” ads.


Banner Ad

A rectangle-shaped ad consisting of copy and/or graphics on a website. Long, vertical banners are referred to as “skyscrapers.”



The aspects of a product or service that satisfies the audience’s wants and needs.


Body Copy

The area in the ad where the primary benefits or differentiators of the product or service are communicated, and the readers are persuaded that they need it. For long copy and web copy, it is good to make these points readable by using bullets, spacing and short paragraphs.


Standard copy or a copy template used for legal and promotional language.


A copywriter’s portfolio of work.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of people who visit a website, then leave immediately because they did not find what they were looking for.


Brand or Brand Name

A name, logo or symbol by which a company, product, or service is defined.



Creating a specific identity for how the audience should perceive a brand.



A software application for surfing the Internet. Popular browsers include Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox.


Burst or Call-Out

A graphic that is visually separate from the main body of an ad, which contains an offer or value statement, such as “50% Off!”


Business-to-Business (B2B)

The marketing of products or services from one company to another.


Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

The marketing of products or services from a company to the general public.

Button Ad

Small image ads, typically 125 x 125 in size.


Call to Action (CTA)

The closing section of an ad, where a sense of urgency is invoked, and clear, concise instructions are provided for the action the audience should take.


A large-scale plan of advertising, marketing, and promotion for a product or service.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

A method for measuring the success of an ad. To get the rate, divide the number of users who clicked on an ad by the number of times the ad was viewed (impressions).



Marketing materials a brand uses to sell its product, including brochures, fliers, and catalogs.



A mock-up of the concept the copywriter and designer brainstormed, usually presented to the client or creative director before the work is executed.



The big idea behind the ad.


Content (or Web Content)

Informative and/or entertaining text that makes up a web page. Generally, the goal of web content is to raise a site’s ranking in search engines using keywords, thus bringing an audience – hopefully full of customers – to the page.


Content Management System

A tool that allows users to manage content on a website.


Contextual Advertising

A program that serves up relevant ads based on the page content where the ad appears. For example, on a blog or website about gadgets, an ad for an MP3 player might be posted.



The text that makes up any piece of advertising.



The creative use of language that compels the reader to take action in a prescribed manner. That action could be the purchase of a product, the patronage of a business or even something more personal, like the support of a political candidate.



Copy, both on its own and combined with design, can be referred to as creative. (e.g. “Please deliver the creative to George by 2:00.”)


Creative Brief

A document that serves as a blueprint for all the information needed to start on the ad; used by most copywriting and design professionals.


Creative Director

The lead person who oversees all aspects of the creative team.


Creative Team

The people behind the creative execution of an ad, usually copywriters and designers.



The items that must be provided to complete a project, such as an ad, commercial or press release.


Direct Mail

Unsolicited advertising sent to an audience via postal mail.


Direct Marketing or Direct Response Marketing

Advertising that aims for a specific response from an audience (rather than the goal of brand awareness) through personalized communications like postal mail or email.


Domain Name

The unique identifier within a web address (aka URL). For example, in the address, athenahayes is the domain name.


Evergreen Content

Website content that is always present. For example, the “About” page.



A portion of a URL is called an extension. Typical extensions are .com, .net, .info, and .org.



The qualities of a product or service. Good copywriters know how to turn features into benefits for the intended audience.



The section of a website that stretches across the bottom, generally used to display copyright info and disclaimers. The footer may also be used to display links, advertisements, and just about anything that would normally appear in the sidebars.


For Position Only (FPO)

In a mock-up of an ad (aka “Comp”), the acronym FPO is used to specify that a certain image or graphic is only a placeholder, and not indicative of the final design.


“Greek” the Copy

The text equivalent of FPO, to “greek” the copy is to insert Latin words, most commonly “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” to indicate where the final copy will be placed in an ad.



The area that stretches across the top of a website and contains the site’s name, along with other optional additions, like a tagline, logo, advertisements, search bar, or subscription area.



The headline grabs the audience’s attention, gets to the point and convinces them to read further. It is usually in larger and/or bolder type than the rest of the copy.



Each time a file on a website is requested by a browser.


Home Page

The very first thing visitors see when they type in a website’s address.


HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

The language used to create websites.



Whenever an ad is displayed on a website.



When a company has an internal creative staff that executes its marketing collateral.



A word or series of words, that indexes a website and helps search engines locate it.


Landing Page (aka Lead Capture Page or Lander)

The web page a reader is taken to upon clicking on an online advertisement. The copy on this page should logically follow the copy presented in the ad that was clicked on.



The stylistic arrangement of graphics, photos, and copy in an ad.



The portion of the general population that represents the potential audience for a product or service.



The activities performed by a department or group to distribute, promote, and sell a product or service.


Marketing Communications

The forms of advertising a company uses to promote its product or service, including advertising and public relations.



Usually appearing under the header, the navigation is a set of links that take readers to other pages on a website.


Page View

A Page View is registered every time a page is accessed by a visitor. This is the most important statistic of all, and is the one most online advertisers measure to calculate advertising rates.


Pay-per-Action Ad (PPA)

An online advertisement that pays the publisher (usually a website or blog owner) for a specific action that must be performed by the reader, such as clicking on an ad and filling out a contact form.


Pay-per-Click Ad (PPC)

An online advertisement that pays the publisher (usually a website or blog owner) every time a person clicks on the ad.


Pop-up Ad

An ad that literally "pops up" in a new browswer window,usually with the goal of capturing an email address or presenting a special offer.



The collection of a copywriter’s body of work. Can be shown on a website, or be housed physically in either an 8 ½” x 11” leather binder with clear plastic sleeves or a larger artist’s portfolio case, where samples are pasted on to the cardboard inserts that come with it.



The specific niche a brand occupies in the market or in the mind of its audience.


Pull Quote

A portion of copy that is highlighted in an ad, either through larger font or in a burst.



This analytic feature reveals the other sites, blogs and search engines (and keywords) that drive traffic to a site.


Return on Investment (ROI)

The ratio of the money or business a brand gains weighted against the money or time it spent.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A specialized form of copywriting that involves incorporating keywords to get a website to the top of the search listings.



A memorable tagline or phrase that draws attention to a brand or product, e.g. Wheaties: The Breakfast of Champions.



A supporting line of copy, in smaller type than the main headline, that supports and expands on the headline and entices the audience to keep reading


Swipe File

Competitive research. A folder, either online or in a file cabinet, that a copywriter keeps of effective ads.



The tagline is usually a brand's slogan, but can also mean the same thing as a subhead to some in the ad industry, i.e. a line that supports and expands on the headline and entices the audience to keep reading. 



A small bit of copy used to get an audience to continue reading. In direct mail, it’s the brief bit of copy on the outer envelope.



A predesigned layout that a website or blog is built on. Also called a template.



The amount of visitors to a website or blog.


Tracking Mechanism

A code, specific web address or phone number that tracks the performance of an ad, to see if it is is meeting its Return on Investment (ROI).


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

Basically, a phone number that dials up a website. For example,



The Unique Selling Proposition. It's the major benefit a product or service has to offer that other products in the same category don’t have.



A blog post or other web item that becomes extremely popular through word-of-mouth.



Whenever an address is entered into a browser, it’s registered as a Visit.



Website analytics tools record three types of visitors: “Visitors” include anyone who visits a page, “Return Visitors” are those that visit more than once, and “Unique Visitors” are counted once regardless of the amount of times they’ve visited.


White Paper

An educational report or guide that assists the reader to make a decision or solve a problem.


White Space

The absence of text and graphics on portions of an ad, that provides a “breather” for the audience.



An interactive application that can be added to a website or blog that serves a specific function, like a calendar, weather, a ticker, etc. 



Short for “What you See is What You Get," WYSIWYG generally refers to an editor or content management system that shows the content in much the same manner during the editing process as it will appear in the end result.