Glossary of Newsletter Terms

An alphabetical listing of terms commonly used in the production of newsletters whether they be print or email.


Affirmative Consent: The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Report for the CAN-SPAM Act indicates that "affirmative consent" requires some active choice or selection by the recipient. A passive, such as not un-checking a pre-checked box or other default Web form, is not sufficient. (Source: Commerce Committee Report, CAN-SPAM Act of 2003)

A/B Split Test: A method of email testing where two equal segments of an email list are sent two different versions of an email to gauge response to certain variables. Commonly used for testing the response of recipients (in the form of Open Rates) to different subject lines.

Above-the-fold: The top part of an email or web page that can be seen without scrolling. This is generally more desirable placement because of its visibility.

Alteration: Change in copy or specifications made after production has begun.

Append: The practice in which a marketer leverages offline data to match profiles with users and contact via email.

Artwork: Images including type and images that are prepared for printing.

Auditor: Third party to verify subscriber membership.

Below-the-fold: Refers to the area of a web page or email that is not visible until the mouse or arrow keys are used to scroll father down the page.

Bindery: Trimming, folding, binding and other finishing tasks for the printed piece.

Blacklist: List of IP addresses that are being used by or belong to organizations or individuals that have been identified as sending SPAM. Blacklists are often used by organizations and Internet Service Providers as part of their filtering process to block all incoming mail from a particular IP address (or block of addresses).

Bleed: Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

Blueline: A proof where all the colors show as a blue image on white paper. It is created as the final step before. Alterations at this stage are more expensive that earlier changes.

Body copy: Copy set in text type: the bulk of the story, not headlines and cutlines.

Bounce: A message that doesn't get delivered promptly is said to have bounced. Emails can bounce for more than 30 reasons, e.g., the email address is incorrect or has been closed; the recipient's mailbox is full; the mail server is down; or the system detects Spam or offensive content
(See hard bounce and soft bounce).

Bounce Handling: The process of dealing with the email that has bounced. Bounce handling is important for list maintenance, list integrity and delivery. Given the lack of consistency in bounce messaging formats, it's an inexact science at best.

Bounce Message: Message sent back to an email sender reporting the message could not be delivered and why. Note: Not all bounced emails result in messages being sent back to the sender. Not all bounce messages are clear or accurate about the reason the email was bounced.

Bounce Rate: (Also return rate) The number of hard/soft bounces divided by the number of emails sent. This is an inexact number because some systems do not report back to the sender clearly or accurately.

Byline: The element of the layout that presents the name of the writer or the person who submitted the story, i.e. “By Jane Doe.”

Calls to Action: Words that offer the opportunity and encourage the prospect to take action. For example, "Click here to see a product tour" or "Add this product to your wish list."

Campaign: A coordinated set of individual email marketing messages delivered at intervals, and with an overall objective in mind. A campaign allows each new message to build on previous ones.

CAN-SPAM: A law, which became effective January 1, 2004, that establishes provisions for those who send email with primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service.

Catch-all: An email server function that forwards all questionable email to a single mailbox. The catch-all should be monitored regularly to find misdirected questions, "unsubscribes" or other valid email.

Character: Any letter, numeral, symbol, punctuation mark, or space between words.

Click-Through: When a recipient clicks on a link.

Click To Open Rate: The number of times all links in an email were clicked compared to the number of people who opened the email, represented as a percentage. To determine the click-to-open-rate, divide the number of responses (clicks) by the number of emails opened (multiply this number by 100 to express the result as a percentage).

Click-Through Rate: To determine the click-through rate, divide the number of responses by the number of emails opened (multiple this number by 100 to express the result as a percentage).

Clip Art: Generic drawings used as filler for a page versus artwork/photography that is created specifically to accompany text.

Coated Stock: Paper coated with a thin layer of clay-like substrate that creates a smooth, flat surface ideal for printing colored inks and superfine detail such as photographs. (See also uncoated stock.)

Collate: To assemble sheets into their proper sequence.

Concept: The designer’s overall plan to present a story by combining copy, photos, graphic elements, display type and white space into a final layout that is consistent with the original intent of the editors for that story.

Condensed Type: Characters narrow in proportion to their height, thus seeming tall and tightly spaced.

Confirmed Opt-in: Also referred to as Double Opt-in, this is a two-step process to allow a user to opt-in to (join) your list. They must initially sign up, and then respond to a follow up email to opt-in to your mailing list.

Conversion Rate: The number of recipients that completed a desired action as a result of an email message compared to the total list size, represented as a percentage. To determine the conversion rate, divide the number of recipients who completed the desired action by the number of emails sent (multiply this number by 100 to express the result as a percentage).

Copyright: The legal ownership of creative work, be it writing, photography or graphic design.

Credit: The element of the layout that presents the name of the photographer or illustrator, usually in 8 pt. type or smaller.

Cropping: Eliminating portions of the photography or illustration usually indicated on the original by crop marks.

Crossover: An image that continues from one page of a publication across the center, or gutter, to the opposite page.

Demographics: Data about the size and characteristics of an audience.

Density: Darkness of the ink on paper.

Dingbat: A symbol used for emphasis or decoration.

Double Opt-in: Also referred to as Confirmed opt-in, is a two-step process to allow a user to opt-in to your list. They must initially sign up, and then respond to a follow up email to opt-in twice to your mailing list.

Display Type: Type that is used as a graphic element, such as headline type.

Domain Keys: Email authentication system designed to verify the DNS domain of an email sender and the message integrity.

Double Opt-in Email Marketing: The process of collecting permission to email users whereby a submitted email address is not immediately added to a mailing list. Instead, an email is sent to the submitted address asking the user to take additional action to confirm that they do want to receive email communications from the marketer. If the user does nothing, the submitted address is not sent email communications. The user will only be sent email communications if they respond to the confirmation email.

Draft: The current working version of copy, which is not yet final.

Editing: Checking copy for clarity and accuracy, as well as for correctness of grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.

Editorial Content: Copy and associated photos that communicate the news and stories that are the reason for the newsletter’s existence, i.e. feature stories, news, alumni notes, messages from the president, and so on. Editorial content is distinguished from advertising and other verbal or graphic messages.

Editorial Style: The particular system of rules that a given newsletter follows for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, formats of written elements such as references and word usage. Examples of editorial styles are Associated Press, Chicago Manual of Style, and Illinois State University Editorial and Visual Identity Standards.

Email Authentication: Practice of validating that an email sender is legitimate to cut down on SPAM and phishing scams.

Email Header: The portion of an email containing basic information such as the sender's address, the recipient's address, the subject line and the date sent. Also contained in the header (though not always readily accessible) is more detailed information about the entire path the email traveled between the sender and recipient.

Email List Manager: Controller of email list or database entity.

Email Marketing Campaign: Coordinated email marketing messages delivered at intervals with a specific objective or goal.

Email Newsletter: An email message sent out to a group of subscribers with relevant information on a topic. Often used to capture Web site visitor's email addresses, they can also be used to keep in touch with existing customers, or simply as a means of distributing new product information.

Email Service Provider (ESP): Service that provides clients with platform from which to create and deploy email messages, as well as the ability to access reporting tools. Depth of service and sophistication of systems vary depending on the ESP.

Email Spoofing: Altering certain elements of an email to disguise or misidentify the origin of the message. This is an illegal technique commonly used when sending SPAM.

Extended Type: Characters wide in proportion to their height, thus seeming fat and loosely spaced.

Final Count: Number of printed pieces delivered: the total used to calculate billing.

Flop: To reproduce a photograph or illustration so that its image faces opposite from the original.

Flush Left or Right: Type aligning vertically along the left or right side of the column.

Folio: The page number of a newsletter.

Font: A typeface, or named group of characters with the same design characteristics, such as Times New Roman, Palatino, or Garamond.

Format: Size and shape of a printed piece.

Forward: An email function allowing subscribers to relay a previously received message in full to another email address (or addresses). This is convenient in that the entire email is passed along without the need to create a new message or do any cut/paste work.

Four Covers: The four surfaces of a magazine cover. Cover 1 is the outside front, cover 2 is inside front, cover 3 is inside back and cover 4 is outside back.

Four-color Process: A printing process that primarily uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black (and referred to as CMYK) to reproduce color photographs and other materials that contain a range of colors that cannot economically be reproduced using individual solid ink colors.

From Name: The name by which the sender of an email is known.

From Address: The email address from which an email is sent.

Geo Segmentation: The ability to target email recipients by geographic region such as city, state, country and postal code.

Gutter: Space between columns of type where the pages meet at the binding.

Halftone: Usually refers to a photo that is made up of small dots for reproduction on a printing press.

Hard Bounce: An email address that is rejected by the receiving server for a permanent reason (example: "email address does not exist"). Hard bounces are not valid email addresses and should be removed from lists.

Hickey: Doughnut-shaped spot or imperfection in printing.

HTML-based Email: An email comprised of HTML code. Essentially, an HTML-based email is the equivalent of emailing a web page, complete with colors, graphics, and other visually appealing methods of delivering content.

Indicia: Postal permit information printed on objects to be mailed in lieu of stamps.

Image Area: The portion of the page on which ink appears.

Image Suppression/Image Blocking: A default setting in many Email Clients (and an available option on almost all), image suppression allows recipients to view emails with no images displayed. Only text and HTML-coded colors will display when emails are viewed with images blocked. Recipients do this to cut down on the amount of advertisements displayed in the emails they view, and to make emails load onto their screen in the least amount of time required. Emails viewed with images blocked are not counted as an Open because the invisible tracking images used to determine the emails. Open Rate is blocked as well.

Insert: Ads, flyers, or additional pages created for the newsletter but which count as separate from the newsletter’s regular pages and which are included by being bound so that they are truly inserted and stand out from the rest of the publication.

Kerning: Altering spaces between letters to make a better fit.

Layout: Drawing of a design showing position, size and color.

Leading: The amount of space between lines of type.

List Segmentation: Breaking a list into smaller pieces for the purpose of targeting recipients with specific characteristics or demographics.

M: Abbreviation for a quantity of 1,000 sheets of paper.

Masthead: The block of type usually placed close to the front of the newsletter that lists staff names, ownership and/or proprietor information, copyright information, an affirmative action statement, and legally required information such as frequency of publication and the status of the postal permit.

Mug Shot: A photo that shows a person’s head and shoulders.

Multi-part Email: An email that is sent with different versions - usually html, text and AOL. The recipient's email client settings determine which version is delivered to that inbox.

Multivariate Testing: A form of email testing where testing software is used to display emails containing variations to several different elements. These emails are displayed with different combinations of the elements to different users. The data can then be viewed to see which combinations and elements had the greatest impact on performance.

Nameplate: The logo-like banner that typically appears at the top of page one of a newsletter. May include the name of the publication, the name of the publisher, the defining phrase, the issue date, and volume and issue numbers.

Narrowcast: Used to describe targeted email marketing that aims for the highest possible relevance, as opposed to "broadcast" email marketing where one message is sent to an entire list with no segmentation applied.

Negative: An image on film or paper in which blacks in the original subject are white or clear, and whites in the original subject are black or opaque.

Open Rate: The percentage of total recipients who open a given email. An Open is only counted when an invisible tracking image placed within an email by an Email Service Provider is viewed. This tracking image is not considered as having been viewed when an email is seen using an email client with images blocked, which makes Open Rates a less reliable metric than many realize.

Opt-in: The action a person takes when he or she actively agrees, by email or other means, to receive communications. (Also see Double Opt-in)

Opt-in Code: Code posted on the webpage of a company's Web site that allows a subscriber to signup for email from the company and be automatically added to that company's email list.

Opt-in Email Marketing: The process of collecting permission to email users whereby the user must take action to receive email communications. Also known as Permission-based Email Marketing.

Opt-out: The action a person takes when they choose not to receive communications. It requires mechanisms by which people can ask to be removed reliably from an email list.

Overrun: Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. Some overrun is standard in all printing jobs.

Permission-based Email Marketing: The practice of sending email communications only to recipients who have given their consent to receive them.

Personalization: The practice of creating an email that the recipient feels is more personal. Personalization can include a number of things, such as mail merging a name into the subject line, referring to previous purchases, or more dynamic content based on demographic fields.

Photo Caption: Identification of photo.

Point Size: The height of the type used, expressed in a unit of measurement called points because of technical work done by the graphic designers.

Production Schedule: A timeline that states when each piece of the newsletter must be completed to meet the newsletter deadline.

Proof: A test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws.

Proofing: Checking copy after it has been edited and placed into a design format.

Pull Quote: A quotation that is taken out of copy and put in “display type” as a graphic element and a way to increase interest in the copy.

PMS: A color reproduction term. Colors carry a PMS number, which allows printers to check their color against an industry standard. The actual abbreviation stands for Pantone Matching System.

Predictive Modeling: Mathematically-based formula used to dynamically segment subscribers based on who is most likely to engage with a particular message.

Preview Pane: Available in some email clients, preview panes display a portion of a selected email message without the recipient actually having to open the full message. In some clients, the size of the preview pane can be adjusted to display all or most of an email.

Pre-press: All production work done on the publication before it is printed.

Press Check: When a designer goes to the printing plant as the newsletter is going on the press to check accuracy of the printer’s pages and quality of the printed product.

Press Date: The day and time the newsletter is expected to be printed.

Press Run: The number of newsletter copies printed.

Print-ready: Text, photos, etc. prepared to meet the technical requirements of the commercial printer.

Privacy: The quality or condition of being free from unsanctioned intrusion. Privacy in the email marketing world implies that a recipient's email address is not, nor will it be shared, and they will not receive email they did not otherwise request as a consequence.

Quick Poll: A simple survey built directly into the body of an email, allowing for quick and easy collection of research data from members of a mailing list.

Ragged Right or Left: Type that is not flush right or flush left.

Recipient: Any member of a mailing list who receives a particular email communication without a hard/soft bounce affecting delivery.

Register: The positioning of printing in proper relation to edges of the paper and other printing on the same sheet.

Render: Used to describe whether or not images within an email display, particularly tracking images used to determine Open Rates. For this reason, some in the email marketing industry have proposed changing what is now called an "Open Rate" to be referred to as a "Render Rate."

Reply-To Address: The email address to which a recipient can reply to from your email message. This address must be a working email address and must be live for at least 30 days after your email is sent.

Rough Layout: A simple sketch giving a general idea of size and placement of type and art.

Runaround: Type set to conform to the outline of a photograph or illustration.

Scans: Computer-stored images translated from a hard copy of a photo, illustration or copy by a scanner.

Screens: The addition of color tints as background to highlight copy, charts, graphs, etc.

Segmentation/Targeting: Identifying and sending to only a select portion of an email list based on a shared pre-determined criteria, such as the recipients' zip code or online purchase history. Segmentation is used to help increase the relevance of a message to the recipients.

Sender ID: Email authentication technology protocol that verifies the domain name from which email is sent.

Sender Score Certified: Email certification process that requires originators of legitimate email adhere to a baseline set of industry standards for email communication.

Serif: A typeface or font with small lines, or serifs, in the ends of letters. This typeface is serif, as opposed to sans-serif typeface, without those small lines, like Arial. Often a serif font is used for body type and a sans-serif font is used for headlines, cutlines, bylines and credits.

Sidebar: A shorter story written to accompany a main feature.

Single Opt-in: Method of list building where only a single action is required of an interested party before he/she is added to a mailing list (such as submitting a web form). Differs from Double Opt-in in that no follow-up action is required on the part of new subscribers in order to confirm their opt-in status.

Snippet Text: The first line of text within an email, also called the Pre-header. While often used to prompt recipients to add the sender to his/her safelist, Snippet Text is increasingly being used for more high-value content. In email clients such as Gmail, Snippet Text is displayed after the subject line in recipients' inboxes, making it a valuable area for key messaging.

Soft Bounce: The failed delivery of an email due to a temporary reason, such as a full mailbox or unavailable server.

SPAM: Unsolicited bulk or commercial email. The prevalence of SPAM emails has led to laws against SPAM being enacted by the U.S. government, as well as more stringent filtering methods implemented by widely-used email clients.

SPAM Score: A determination of the probability that messages from a certain sender will be classified as SPAM when delivered to email clients. The score itself refers to the IP address being used to send the messages. All messages sent from the same IP address share the SPAM score of that IP address.

SPAM Trap: An email address that has been specifically created to detect individuals who have illegally scraped or collected email addresses. The belief is that any email sent to a spam trap address is indeed Spam, as the email address is not usually used as a real email address.

Spread: Two facing pages.

Specifications: An exact, detailed description of the final product including size, number of pages, paper weight and finish, type of printing, type of binding, photos and color to be used, number of copies needed, etc., provided by the customer and used by the printer to create an estimate and as a guide for printing the job.

Split List: A list that has been segmented in some way(s). Examples could include a 50/50 split, customer vs. prospect split, a split based on subscriber profile information such as their industry, etc.

Style Manual: A manual that lists the rules for a particular editorial style. (See the entry above for “editorial style”.)

Subject Line: The title of the email communication. This is the first element of the communication recipients will see when they access their email. It should grab attention, be accurately descriptive of the content of the email and be credible.

Subscriber: Any member of a mailing list who has opted-in of his/her own accord to receive mail from that particular sender.

Template: A specifically designed format, first created as a prototype of the newsletter with input from the creators of the publication, and followed thereafter as the guide for all design elements of the newsletter, from the overall appearance, to color scheme, fonts, margin widths, and story bylines.

Text-based Email: A black and white email consisting only of typed text. Preferred by recipients who view email on mobile devices, or those who prefer email without images.

Total Clicks: The total number of times a link was clicked, includes recipients who may have clicked multiple times.

Total Opens: The total number of times an email was opened, includes recipients who may have opened the email multiple times.

Tracking: Collecting, arranging and evaluating the statistics through which one can measure the effectiveness of an email or an email campaign.

Transparency: Positive photographic image, usually in color, on film that allows light to pass through.

Type Style: Variations of a typeface or font, such as italic, condensed or bold.

Typeface: A set of characters with design features making them similar to each other. Also referred to as a font.

UCE: Unsolicited Commercial Email (also referred to as SPAM.) Commercial email sent without the recipient's express permission.

Uncoated Stock: Paper with no applied surface. (See also Coated Stock.)

Unique Clicks: The number of individual recipients who click on a link within a given email. Even if one person clicks on three links within an email, he/she is only counted as one unique click.

Unique Opens: The number of individual recipients who opened a given email. Different from Total Opens in that each individual is only counted once. A recipient who opens an email three times will be counted as one Unique Open, while adding three to the number of Total Opens.

Unsubscribe: When an email recipient requests to no longer receive email communication from a particular sender. The option to unsubscribe from a mailing list is required by law to be available on all email marketing communications.

Varnish: Clear liquid applied like ink for beauty and protection, usually on the outside surfaces of the cover.

Web Version: Most email marketing messages contain a link which points to a Web Version of the message. This is usually displayed at the top of the message so it is the first thing recipients will see if they have images suppressed. Web versions of emails contain the same content, but are viewed as standalone web pages instead of through an email client.

Whitelist: A list of email addresses that a user designates as safe to receive email from. Inclusion on a whitelist means that no email from those particular senders will ever end up in the user's junk mail folder unless express action is taken by the user to remove an address from the whitelist.

White Space: The area on a page that is void of type or imagery.

Widow: A single short line ending a paragraph that appears as the first line of a column or page. Also a single or partial word appearing as the final line in a paragraph. Widows are to be avoided by manipulation of the type.