Copy vs. Text vs. Content

What is copy vs. text vs. content?
Printable or newsworthy.

Do you know the difference between copy vs. text? When a copywriter turns a thought into printable or newsworthy text, it becomes copy.

The ease of online publishing has allowed authorship to blossom. However, it has taken the editing and reviewing filter off the publishing pipeline, and many modern authors fail to distinguish between the word, “copy,” and other words associated with publishing. Misuse of words has become commonplace, if not acceptable.

How about content? Do you understand why copy can be content but not all content is copy? To best understand the terms, it helps to look at the words, “copy,” “content,” and “text.” Some authors interchange these publishing words irreverently, clouding the distinctions between the words and how clients and publishers may communicate. Correct use of these words can help a client communicate with a writer, editor, or marketer, facilitating the expression of copy needs to a copywriter. 

Copy vs. Text vs. Content

When trying to understand copy vs. text vs. content, it helps to understand that these terms do not describe mutually exclusive items. Rather, think of them diagrammatically, as sets and subsets that overlap.

Copy vs. text vs. content.
Diagram showing the relationship between copy, text, and content.

Copy vs. Text

Text refers to simple written communication. A grocery list or class notes are both texts. Graffiti often contains text. Think of text as a very broad category, or set.

Copy, a type of text, refers to the written portion of a website, publication, blog, book, newspaper, journal, magazine, brochure, social media post, product package, advertisement, script, or other published medium. Copy has a more formal connotation, and it’s purpose … communication through published media … distinguishes it as a specific, distinct type of text. Think of copy as a subset of text See the diagram, above). Copy is text, but not all texts comprise copy. 

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Graffiti contains text.

In the ClicketyClickContent Blog, you will see the word, “copy,” used in reference to publishable or newsworthy text, as described by Webster, above. When writing about text, in the broad sense (sensu lato), readers will see the word, “text,” as opposed to the word, “copy.”


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Ad copy compliments visual content in this ad.

Text Tells; Copy Sells …, but not Here!

Some publishers maintain an even narrower concept of copy. In this school, editors refer to advertising, or sponsored, text as, “copy.” They consider unsponsored texts to fall into the simple “text” category. ClicketyClickContent does not use this narrow definition because all text, even if it does not qualify as copy, sells, in a sense. While a love letter sells a heart, a grocery list sells a call-to-action, and a personal email sells a thought in hope of a response.   

Copy is a Type of Content

Copy is a type of content, yet, not all content is copy. A photo on a webpage, for example, is not text or copy, but it certainly qualifies as content. A letter to a friend is text, but it is not copy because it will most likely not see print. A manuscript to be used to create a blog post is copy. Once it is published, it will also be content. We use the terms conditionally (published vs. unpublished; containing words vs. not containing words).  

  1. Does something have words written on it or in it? That’s text.
  2. Will the text be published or advertised? That’s copy.
  3. Does a communication medium contain things like photos or recordings? They qualify as content, but they are neither copy nor text.   


If it Goes to Print, Call it Content

Content includes many forms of expressive media other than text. For example, part of the content of this blog posts … its images … help clarify ideas in the copy by demonstrating the essence of the communicated message. Likewise, the appearance of the ClicketyClickContent logo, above constitutes a graphic form of content with limited copy. In this very paragraph, the brand name, in a distinct font, within the copy, also tells the reader something unique. Both the logo and the special font suggest sponsorship of this content. This information empowers the reader, allowing him or her to expect potential bias typical of sponsored copy.

Types of Copy

Once we understand copy vs. text vs. content, understanding types of copy helps further define the terms. Copywriters write different types of copy to fit different media types and communication goals. Let’s take a look at a few types of copy.

Body Copy

First of all, body copy makes up the main text of a magazine or newspaper article. When you visit The Wall Street Journal, you go there to read, for the most part, body copy … the main text of news items.

Likewise, if one picks up a copy of Book Yourself Solid, by Michael Port, one buys it to read the body copy. Body copy, written by a copy writer, may inform, entertain, persuade, or educate. 

The text you see at this moment comprises body copy for a blog post. It aims to inform.

Display Copy

While the copywriter generally submits the body copy to an editor, a copy editor or sub-editor may accommodate the text to fit within a standard format of his or her publication. That format can include the logo, headlines, subtitles, graphics, headers, captions, and footers. 

Publishers refer to these branding and organizational texts as, “display copy.” Display copy appears, for example, in the header and footer, above and below this blog post, respectively.

copy vs. text
Advertising copy.

Ad Copy

 “Ad Copy,” short for, “advertisement copy,” or, “advertising copy,” appears in ads and usually promote a product or service. Copywriters generally write it to persuade a potential buyer. It serves as sales copy.

Sponsored Copy

Sponsored copy, unlike most “ad” copy may appear much like the unsponsored copy in a magazine or website, and it may effectively fit the targeted audience. It often combines effectively with the editorial content of a publication. However, sponsored copy, as the name implies, contains content paid for by an advertiser. It can be includ embedded and interruptive advertising formats, and its content, or the “essence of [its] communicated message,” contains a sales pitch.


For example, the last paragraph of this post, in a sense, contains sponsored copy because some blog visitors sometimes become leads for ClicketyClickContent, which sponsors this blog.  Such sponsorship from sponsored copy generates revenue, some of which returns to this blog to keep it alive and healthy.

Note that it looks just like any other section of the blog. Often, sponsored copy does have a notice, distinguishing it from unsponsored copy.

Turn Your Ideas and Texts into Copy

ClicketyClickContent has the experience and tools you need to turn your ideas and texts into copy ready for publication on your website, blog, or other electronic or print medium.

Do you have something to say? We turn what you have to say into copy.

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