Clients often ask us what we mean by the term ‘stand-first’. I kick myself when I hear this question. After all, we ProseWorks writers and editors are experts in plain English. We pursue a merciless mission to root out and destroy all jargon, wherever it raises its head. Being caught using a piece of jargon from the world of words is therefore not exactly good practice. So, in an attempt to purge myself from using the term ‘stand-first’, I will try to explain what it means and how they should be used. It sounds like a military phrase, a bit like the term ‘stand-to’. In a way it is. A stand-first is that initial few lines you see in magazines and web pages that stand out. Eye catching Often published in bold or even italicised at the top of the page, it is designed to catch the reader’s eye. It’s usually two, three or four lines long (although rarely longer) and helps the readers to gauge what the article, web page or piece of copy is all about. It gives the reader a clear sense of what they will find out if they read on. In this sense it elaborates on the headline which will usually appear at the top of the story. Yet, stand-firsts also offer more. While headlines will communicate the topic or subject area of the article to the reader, the stand-first will allow the writer to frame or shape the subject matter in the mind of the reader. For instance, for this short blog the headline could be something really functional like “Why stand-firsts are important”. The stand-first could then read “Giving your reader key introductory information about your articles is always important. Using a strong stand-first will help you target your message and draw readers in.” Stand-firsts always give visual help to readers’ weary eyes. No one likes to read big blocks of text, especially if they don’t know what’s coming. Stand-firsts give you the opportunity to use the bold or italic button to break things up and to make your key message….stand first. If you want your writing to stand out, contact the experts at ProseWorks to find out how.