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I don't quite understand why this question got four close votes with "unclear what you're asking" reason. I am asking if the usage of the word in the specified meaning is acceptable. Is it unclear what it means? An opposite of the acceptable usage might be disputable. I give a specific examples when the word in question was used (which seem odd to me, hence the question). I am clueless how to further clarify my concern.

Wikipedia definition for copywriting says "Copywriting is written content conveyed through online media and print materials."

While the edit that introduced the definition is relatively recent it has already been widely quoted outside of Wikipedia. However it seems it is the source of the above definition circulating on the Internet.

Question: Is it acceptable to use the word "a copywriting" in the same sense as "a copy" (ie. as a product of writing, "he is renown for his copywritings")?


Edit: In another occurence ("revealed that copywriting from 1920 to the 1960s was incredibly verbose (and often dull)") the word "copywriting" is used as an uncountable noun describing the overall writings (ie. product of writing) of a particular period in time.

  • @macraf - As far as I can tell, your question (as edited) boils down to "Is copywriting a noun?" Is that right? – JHCL Oct 22 '15 at 8:09
  • @JHCL No, I am not asking "is copywriting a noun," specifically I am not asking if it was a noun meaning "an art or job of copywriting". – macraf Oct 22 '15 at 9:46
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    A Google Books search for copywritings returns only four confirmable matches, which suggests to me that very few authors and publishers view copywriting as a countable noun. With regard to the question in your header above ("Is 'copywriting' a product of writing a copy?"), the simple answer is no. Rather, "copywriting" is the act or process of producing copy (that is, content). Note that copy, as I use it here, is not a countable noun either. The Wikipedia definition of copywriting that you cite in your question misleadingly equates the task of copywriting with its product (content). – Sven Yargs Oct 29 '15 at 19:10
  • @SvenYargs Yes, that was generally my impression too, however the word seems to be used in this context here and there. That's what provoked me to ask the question. And it doesn't have to be countable to mean "content". I added another example of the word usage I found to the question. – macraf Oct 29 '15 at 20:36
  • There are four close votes because your question has been unclear and confused from the start, and it isn't really getting any clearer. You have some basic misconceptions you need to clear up about how English works in general, and until then you should forget about "copywriting" -- you've not identified any need to use the word anyway. – Hot Licks Oct 29 '15 at 23:36
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No, "copywriting" is the act of writing "copy". The "copy" of "copywriting" is not countable; if you call it "a copy", that shifts the meaning of the word to "a reproduction". The act of writing or otherwise producing a copy is generally "copying", and the product of said activity is "a copy/reproduction/facsimile".

Copy here means "written text intended for reproduction." It is frequently used for advertising or media text, but not only that. For example, the contents of a book can be called "copy", and a person who edits a book for grammatical correctness (as opposed to content) is a copy editor (sometimes: copy-editor). A person who writes text that is used in journalism and advertising may be called a copywriter.

It would be rare indeed for a book author to be called a copywriter, so it is correct to say that a copywriter is writing copy for media or advertisements. It is not, however, strictly speaking correct to say that "copy" only refers to that content. It is a common term in publishing for the text body of unpublished material that is being processed for publication.

If you look at the edits and the discussion on that wiki article, you'll find there isn't consensus about how the word should be described or used and whether or not copywriting should be merged with Copy (written).

There was a change to the article around April 2015 that significantly changed the meaning of the definition and I cannot find any references to support that change. Every other definition I can find for "copywriting" defines it as an action, not the product of the action.

I believe that wiki article is wrong. Even wiktionary defines "copywriting" as the present participle of "copywrite" (that is to say: copywriting is the action of writing copy), itself listed as a backformation from copywriter (a word coined sometime around 1911 according to Merriam-Webster). None of the major dictionaries give "copywriting" its own entry, the ones that give example usages (e.g., Oxford) support my contention.

A better definition of copywriting is given by a couple of copywriter guilds.

American Writers & Artists, Inc says:

Copywriting is the process of writing advertising promotional materials. Copywriters are responsible for the text on brochures, billboards, websites, emails, advertisements, catalogs, and more.

The Copywriters Freelance Collective says:

Copywriting is in the first instance the creative process of conceptualising advertisements and marketing devices such as events and other platforms promoting brands or services.

A body of written works can be called "writing" or "the writings of So-and-so", but a body of news articles or advertisements is not "copywriting" and is most definitely not "the copywritings of Whosit".

  • true, the point of the ngram was more in response to the other answer, not the question. The countable-uncountable is more about "copywritings vs writings", I will clear that up. But it also applies to "copy vs a copy", so I will add that in. ;-) – NadjaCS Oct 22 '15 at 17:43
  • Somewhat related "revealed that copywriting from 1920 to the 1960s was incredibly verbose (and often dull)" - I am not sure if copywriting-as-a-participle or copywriting-as-an-art can be verbose or (especially) dull. If not, "copywriting" is used here in the sense of the "uncountable writing" from the previous version of your answer and it seemingly means "written content." I don't find this sentence awkward though. – macraf Oct 22 '15 at 22:11
  • I see what you mean in that context but I think it is still borderline; other uses in the same article are "copywriting was a boom industry" or "copywriting was one career" ... I think the sentence should have been "copy written from..." but it's hard to find a solid reference. – NadjaCS Oct 22 '15 at 22:12
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Copy writing (two words) is the act of "writing copy". "Copy" is what what newspaper and magazine editors call the stories and articles they write (perhaps because they imagine that after they've printed it, it will be so valuable it will sell many copies of their newspaper.)

Note that copy writing is not the same as copyrighting. They are two different phrases that sound alike, but mean different things. And you will frequently see the word "copyright" misspelled as "copywrite", which isn't a valid word at all.

A copyright is the legal ownership of something you've written (literally the "right to copy"), so copyrighting is the act of obtaining a copyright. For example, if you write a book, song, movie, or create a work of art, you are granted a "copyright" which gives you permission to make and sell copies of it; you also have the right to stop other people from making unauthorized copies of it or from plagiarizing it.

In general, the phrase "copy writing" should be used carefully so as not to be confused with "copyrighting".

  • I think this does a good job of identifying and answering the real problem behind the question, in addition to actually addressing the question as written. – jejorda2 Oct 22 '15 at 15:17
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    to be fair, it partially addresses the question. It just uses 3 times as much space talking about something unrelated to the question and doesn't go into detail about why the answer is what it is. – NadjaCS Oct 22 '15 at 18:38

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