What are the Different Kinds of Copy?

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In general, copy is written text of any kind in various genres. Many of you familiar with the HBO smash hit "Mad Men" knew that copy referred to advertising copy (or text). Ad copy means text written specifically to sell something. But there are other kinds of copy including body copy and just plain copy.

What's the Difference?

Copy is defined as 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.

Ad copy is text that is used expressly for selling, as opposed to text used for any other purpose, such as informing or entertaining.

Body copy is the text in the main part of a piece of writing, as opposed to introductory text or conclusions. 

Further Definition

Generally, copy is any kind of text composition. For example, the article you are reading right now is a kind of copy called web content. It is written with the intent to inform the reader.

What you're reading now is very different than Ad copy which is clearly written to sell a product. To help you differentiate ad copy from other kinds of copy, think about slogans or taglines used by consumer product companies. For example, General Electric paid an ad agency a boat-load of money to come up with the slogan, "we bring good things to life." I am sure you can think of many other examples. Brochures are also considered ad copy because they are written to describe a product or service they want the consumer to be interested in. Even the advertisements you see on the margins of this webpage are ad copy.

Body copy, on the other hand, is copy that is in the middle of a newspaper or a magazine article. The term might also refer to the middle part of an essay. Either way, body copy denotes being in the middle.


Here are some example sentences using these terms.

"The body copy in your essay is moving, but your introduction needs some work."

"That Ford ad copy was really convincing."

"Can you have the copy to me by 4:00 p.m.?"

Copy and Freelance Writing

As a freelance writer, you might produce different kinds of copy for your clients.

Often, freelance writers specialize in one particular genre or form of writing. For example, copywriters are those who write ad copy and similar text. Ad copy is usually written by a specialized writer, as opposed to a "jack-of-all-trades" writer. However, some freelance writers are adept at writing all kinds of copy. 

Generally, a mention of "copy" from your client is simply referring to the text you've been hired to write, whether it's for a blog, a press release, their website, or a brochure. 

Mastering the language of your writing career will help you feel more comfortable with your clients and understand their needs better. For more definitions, visit the GLOSSARY section on the navigation bar.