Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon


Located within the first few pages of a publication, the masthead lists the important information you need – editor names, assistant editors, departments, contributing writers, etc. It is also helpful to find out the email configuration of the company – a not so secret tip on getting your queries to the right person without the SASE.

On Speculation

When a writer has a fantastic idea and an editor isn’t so sure, they will ask the writer to write the piece on spec or speculation. This means a writer will write the article in its entirety on the hopes that once the editor sees the piece they will buy it. There is usually no contract and writers should carefully consider their options.


When a writer creates a pitch they are trying to sell their idea for an article or project to an editor or client. This is also known as a query.


A specific website or booklet that shows a writer’s body of work. Most portfolios are online so they are easily accessible to editors and clients.

Query Letter

See “Pitch”

SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes)

Way before email when writers use to send queries to editors by mail they would spend thousands of dollars addressing envelopes to themselves and stamping them in the hopes that an editor would send their thumbs up or down or at the very least return that query letter or manuscript using the stamped envelope. That usually never happened. Most editors would write back using company stationary and postage, wasting time, money and trees! Now, most editors shoot a reply via email, however there are still some publications that will only accept queries or manuscripts via snail mail.

Side Bar

Side bars are shorter bits of information that accompany a longer article. They can range in size and they usually are there to highlight or further explain important information.

Tear Sheet

In modeling, a tear sheet is a copy of the model’s work once published. In writing, a tear sheet works the same way without the pouty stare and 10 hours of hair and makeup. After the publication is printed, editors will often send a tear sheet to the writer as a courtesy for the writer’s clip file.

Writers Guidelines

These are designed to give writers helpful tips and information about submission guidelines and what the publication accepts. While full of great advice and information, they aren’t always gospel. For example, many publication’s guidelines still tout mail in query submissions instead of electronic means.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the freelance glossary!

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – A – C: From AP Style to Crib Sheet

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – D – G From Deadlines to Ghostwriting

Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – H – L: Headlines to Lede (Lead)


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