What Is Copy?

Definition & Examples of Copy

a copywriting team
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 Getty Images / 10'000 Hours

Copy is any text that's published digitally or printed for an audience to consume.

Learn more about what copy is used for and the different types that exist.

What Is Copy?

Broadly defined, copy is text within a publication or composition. It is in contrast to any graphic or pictorial aspects of a publication, article, or another kind of composition.

Alternate definition: A reproduction of an original work

Those in publishing often refer to the main text of an article as body copy (as opposed to titles, subheads, or other elements).

How Copy Works

For many people, advertising and marketing copy may come to mind when they think of copy. This includes any type of writing meant to persuade people to take action, such as buying a product or entering an email address. However, copy can take other forms, as well.

Digital copy is the text that appears on websites, apps, articles, blogs, ebooks, ads, social media, press releases, presentations, emails, and more. Print copy can appear in newspapers, magazines, catalogs, books, posters, flyers, product packaging, brochures, programs, postcards, banners, billboards, and more. The text of speeches, reports, business plans, and proposals can also be considered copy.

Often, people who write copy specialize in one particular genre or form of copy. Some specialize in long-form or short-form news stories, for example, while others specialize in writing blurbs for promotional materials or ad copy. Others may focus on writing novels or short stories, while some may excel in technical writing, proposals, or reports.

Companies may hire freelancers to write their copy or choose to hire them to work in-house. Writers who produce copy related to sales and marketing are usually called copywriters. Those who write editorial work, such as new articles and books, are usually called writers.

Key Takeaways

  • Copy refers to any published text, either digital or printed.
  • People who specialize in writing advertising and marketing copy are called copywriters.
  • You can find copy on more than just ad materials; it includes text you see on websites, in articles and books, and much more.