In advertising, marketing and similar fields, the term "copy" refers to the output of copywriters, who are employed to write material which encourages consumers to buy goods or services.

I find that use of the word "copy" on its own sometimes can be confusing to clients. The word has a plethora of meanings, some leading to negative associations. Hence, I am looking to extend the term in a way that conveys more meaning.

I am thinking "copy-text." Is that a thing? Is there any other term to make the meaning clearer?


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    Why not just "text"? – user184130 Jul 26 '18 at 16:19
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    Please, whoever is knowledgeable about this and going to write an answer, would you include information why writing marketing texts is called "copy writing" at all? It never made sense to me. What is the origin of using "copy" for, actually, "text" in this context? – Christian Geiselmann Jul 26 '18 at 16:27
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    This (somewhat "jargonny") use of copy is as defined by the full OED definition A IV 8 - That which is copied - subsense a: The original writing, work of art, etc. from which a copy is made. More precisely, ...from which many copies are made in most contexts. But journalists and the like are often so full of themselves they might imagine it derives from OED's definition A I 1 c - esp. of language: Copiousness, abundance, fullness, richness. copy of words: = Latin copia verborum, even though that's marked "Obsolete". – FumbleFingers Jul 26 '18 at 17:27
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    Please don't use code formatting for things that aren't code. – Azor Ahai Jul 26 '18 at 18:57
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Uh, no? – Azor Ahai Jul 26 '18 at 20:13

It gets harder to find such people but anyone who's spent much time in traditional methods of publishing - which is to say, methods extant before about 1990 - should recognize the meaning of "copy", which is purely a back-formation.

In traditional publishing the process was always the same: marketing or news, fiction or science, advertising or whatever made no tiny difference.

Every writer produced text, and - by carbon or even by manually re-typing - sent copies to different editors. One might be for style, including grammar; one for content; one for that era's equivalent to political correctness…

Over time, "text" came to be referred to as "copy" and there is no more to it.

  • Thanks to whoever down-voted that and what was there to not like? – Robbie Goodwin Nov 8 '18 at 21:31
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    Not a downvoter but perhaps it was because the answer is unsourced. Also perhaps for the "before about 1990" bit; copy is still current, as the question itself recognises, as do any dictionaries I've checked. Or perhaps it's because you don't actually answer the question asked. They're all quite legitimate reasons. (Best answer here, though!) – tmgr Nov 10 '18 at 1:17
  • Thanks, tmgr; it’s unsourced because everyone who worked in any form of publishing before about 1990 knew it, in the same way you know what's under your feet is a pavement… or a sidewalk, depending only on where you were raised; not on citable sources. I might have said 1980; the difference is small. That “copy is still current” is half the point; the other is the origin. For a specific reference to the Question as asked clearly, ‘copy-text’ isn’t ‘a thing’. Bluntly it's an embarrassing revelation that Ben isn’t comfortable with the terminology or history of his industry. More… – Robbie Goodwin Nov 22 '18 at 18:05
  • Further: I only worked in publishing for 20 years and I never once found the word "copy" confusing to anyone, specifically including literally thousands of clients… the obvious difference being that back then “everyone knew” what they were talking about. If the word has a plethora of meanings, doubtless Ben will be able to cite several. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 22 '18 at 18:07
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    I don't think copy is confusing either. The question amounts to: Can I invent a new term for something? The answer is: Probably not! – tmgr Nov 23 '18 at 1:08

Our custom-designed graphics ensure your content instantly gets recognized with consistent imagery, copy, style and color-schemes.

Better is, in my opinion, something like:

Our custom graphics make your advertising pop in a design environment that blends imagery, text, style and a color scheme to define your brand.

Copy means advertising copy, typically. In a context like this one. But if your text is customer facing and your customers are not designers, I would use advertising.

I would not use consistent here. It's boring and sounds like a professor grading a paper.

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    @MetaEd Oh boy, oh boy. The only reason I have not deleted this is to see if I can become the downvote queen. Anyway, you put in block quotes. – Lambie Nov 26 '18 at 23:24

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