I speak a second language that many of you do not know, and this has recently caused some confusion.

I filled out a form and in one of the spaces I wrote “TK.”

I assumed everybody knew what “TK” meant, that is was one of those universal acronyms like TBA or RSVP or ROFLOL.

But it’s not. It’s newspaper lingo.

Since there are only half as many journalists as there used to be, newspaper lingo is a bit of a dying language, like Choctaw or Basque or Wiradjuri.

“TK” means “to come,” as in, “this information is yet to come, I will fill it in ASAP.”

I have no idea why the abbreviation for “to come” is “TK” instead of “TC.” I will leave you to supply your own punchline about journalists and spelling.

Here are some other examples of newspaper lingo:

LEDE: (Pronounced “leed.”) This is the main point of the story, the information you typically lead off with. (Yeah, it’s spelled “lede” instead of “lead.”) (Repeat that punchline you came up with earlier about journalists and spelling.)

BURY THE LEDE: You have taken too long to get to the point, having buried it underneath unnecessary words.

WIDOW: A word at the end of a paragraph that is left all by itself on a line.

ORPHAN: Part of a word at the end of a paragraph that is left all by itself on a line.

MORGUE: The place where old newspapers and photographs are stored. (Goodness, we journalists are a morbid lot.)

DEADLINE: I’ve never understood what this one means.

BUDGET: This has nothing to do with money, because journalists never have any money. Instead, this refers to a list of stories scheduled for the next issue of the newspaper.

CQ: This means “I have double checked this fact/name/time/date/etc. and it is indeed correct.”

STET: A proofreader’s term for “Oops, I take that back, this is actually correct and you don’t need to change it after all.”

JUMP: The part of the story that jumps to another page.

FOLO: A follow-up story.

LEG: A column of type.

NUT GRAF: A paragraph that summarizes (in a nutshell) what the story is about.

REFER: (Pronounced “reefer.” No, not that kind of reefer.) This is a line that refers you to a related story on another page.

FLAG: The name of the newspaper at the top of the front page, usually printed in a type style that hasn’t been used in 200 years.

MASTHEAD: The list of important poohbahs, usually printed on the editorial page.

BULLDOG: For newspapers that print more than once a day, this is the earliest edition of the newspaper.

FLY SHEET: A single sheet of newsprint, usually stuck in the middle of a section of the newspaper. This is the page that always falls out onto the floor.

GUTTER: The strip of white space between two columns of words.

DINKY: A half roll of newsprint, used to print a flysheet.

DUMMY: Ha ha, no, this is not another word for “journalist.” This is a layout of a page showing where the stories, photographs and ads are likely to go.

30: What journalists used to type at the end of a story when they had no more words to say. Like this:


(This line of identification here at the end is called a TAGLINE.) Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or ldavis@annistonstar.com.


Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.