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Industry Lingo Cheat Sheet


Whether at the interviewing stage or getting ready for your first day at office, it's useful to have a grasp of the "insider" lingo that gets bandied about in different industries. Here's a quick primer on some common phrases and titles in a number of popular industries. Take a look to look smart, avoid a potentially embarrassing situation, or better understand your favorite TV show about "professionals." We will continue to add terms for different industries; if there is an industry you would specifically like to see covered, let us know in the comments (and add your own terms as well!).

Capitol Hill

C.O.B. - Close of business.

Hopper - Usually a page is asked to bring a document "to the hopper." It's not a person, as a lot of people think. It's just a little stand at the side of the clerk's desk in the house chamber.

L.D. - Legislative Director
L.A. - Legislative Assistant
L.C. - Legislative Correspondent

Page - Little person in gray slacks and a blue blazer who is there to do the bidding of congressmen - usually they just run documents from one place to another. You have to be a junior in high school. Mark Foley jokes!

To Whip - To try and get support from other congressmen for your bill, which means calling their office and harassing their staff until the congressman gives in. Also used to encourage members to attend hearings, which they often fail to do.


501(c) 3 - a registered charity, and therefore okay to give to. The charity is able to give money overseas or domestically, and has passed regulations to make sure they're meeting all charitable laws. All 501(c) 3’s have to publish 990's so the public can see what they've spent their money on and what kind of money they've raised.

CBO - Community Based Organization
FBO - Faith Based Organization
NGO - Non-Governmental Organization

Publishing – Magazine

Book - Nickname for a magazine.

Dek - A sentence or a few sentences below a headline, a dek summarizes the article. Like many magazine-production terms, it’s intentionally misspelled (instead of “deck”) so that others involved in the process won’t accidentally think it’s real copy.

Folio - Pages in a magazine (also refers to the number of pages in a magazine).

Hed - An article’s headline, intentionally misspelled.

Masthead - The list of magazine staffers that usually appears in the first few pages of a magazine. Most magazines list their editorial and advertising staffs separately. Usually the most important people are listed on the top (Editor in Chief, Executive Editor), and then the list goes all the way down to the editorial assistants, fact-checkers, and interns. The masthead is the best place to look for information when trying to get in touch with staff of a given magazine about job opportunities.

Well - The group of pages in the center of the magazine where no advertising appears. The well articles are usually cover-line stories and fashion and beauty spreads.

Publishing – Book

Publisher’s Reader, First Reader - A role often assigned to an assistant editor in which he/she would be asked to sort through the slush pile to find manuscripts with the quality and marketability to appeal to the publisher. This person can often enjoy some personal success when a manuscript of their choosing sells well.

Literary Agent – Someone hired by a writer to present them and their written work when dealing with publishers and film producers. Agents often assists in the sale of works and negotiation of deals and are sometimes necessary as some publishers will not deal directly with writers who do not have representation. They are paid a fixed percentage (ten to twenty percent; fifteen percent is the usual) of the proceeds of sales they negotiate on behalf of their clients. In California, agents must be licensed and can only receive ten percent of the client’s fee.

Copy-Editing - is the editorial work that an editor does to make changes and improvements to a manuscript; copy (as a noun) refers to written or typewritten text for typesetting, printing, or publication. The editor effecting these changes is a copy editor; an organization's highest-ranking copy editor, or the supervising editor of a group of copy editors, may be known as the copy chief.

Proofreading = Reading the proof copy of a work that has already been checked by a copy editor to check for remaining errors and see that all copy editing changes have been implemented.

Self-Publishing - Publishing of books by the author without the use of an established third-party publishing company. Self-publishing is becoming more common with advancements in printing technology. Self-publishing, such as Amazon.com Create Space, is most commonly achieved through POD services (print-on-demand). The self-publisher takes care of production and handles order then takes a cut of the profits.

Slush Pile - A collection of unsolicited manuscripts which a junior staffer will often be asked to sift through to find pieces that might be of interest to the more senior editorial staff. Aspiring writers can sometimes avoid the slush pile by contacting someone directly to discuss their submissions.


A.C. – Assistant Camera Operator: member of the camera crew who assists the camera operator, often takes care of camera equipment, keeps track of shot and fresh tapes, batteries, etc. This is a role a P.A. might be asked to assume when the crew is short, even though an A.C. makes significantly more money than a P.A. (but hey, that’s show biz).

A.D. – Assistant Director: person who assists the director, keeps track of the set, and tracks progress of production against the production schedule. The A.D. department prepares the call sheet and is often in charge of set production assistants.

Call Sheet – A listing prepared each day by the A.D. department which details when and which members of the cast and crew are needed to report to the set.

Crafty - Craft service: the food service provided on set for cast and crew to have snacks/quick meals throughout a shoot.

P.A. (Production Assistant, Gopher, Personal Assistant, Assistant To Producer) - Entry level position in the television and film production industry. A person responsible for various odd jobs, which could include such tasks as running errands, stopping traffic, acting as a courier, fetching items from craft service, etc.

P.M. (Production Manager) - Reporting to the producer, this person supervises the budget, hires the crew, approves purchase orders and time cards, and generally makes sure all departments are doing their respective jobs within the parameters of the budget. This is the person to whom a P.A. would answer directly.

Sweeps - In television, "sweeps week" occur when networks relentlessly hype news shows/seasons to pull in viewers. They then use these initial viewership numbers to set advertising rates for the rest of the year.

Real Estate – Residential

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) - A mortgage in which the interest changes periodically, according to corresponding fluctuations in an index. All ARMs are tied to indices, such as the Dow or S&P.

Contingency - A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding. For example, home purchasers often include a contingency that specifies that the contract is not binding until the purchaser obtains a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified home inspector.

Deed of Trust - Some states, like California, do not record mortgages. Instead, they record a deed of trust, which is essentially the same thing.

Discount Points (sometimes just "Points") - In the mortgage industry, this term is usually used only in reference to government loans, meaning FHA and VA loans. Discount points refer to any "points" paid in addition to the one percent loan origination fee. A "point" is one percent of the loan amount.

Fee simple - The greatest possible interest a person can have in real estate; the true "owner" of the real estate, as opposed to a lessee under a lease.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage - A mortgage in which the interest rate does not change during the entire term of the loan.

Recording - The noting in the registrar's office of the county where the real estate is located of the details of a properly executed legal document, such as a deed, a mortgage note, deed of trust, a satisfaction of mortgage, or an extension of mortgage, thereby making it a part of the public record.

Title Report/Title Search - A check of the title records to ensure that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no liens or other claims outstanding. A title report will list conditions revealed by a title search that adversely affect the title to real estate -- these are called "clouds on title" which generally cannot be removed except by deed, release, or court action. A title that is free of liens or legal questions as to ownership of the property is referred to as "clear title." The title report will be run by the title company, which is a company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate. Title insurance protects the lender (lender's policy) or the buyer (owner's policy) against loss arising from disputes over ownership of a property.

Real Estate – Commercial

Additional Rent - Any amounts due under a lease that are in addition to base rent. Most common form is operating expense increases.

Base Rent - A specific amount used either as a minimum rent in a lease (commercial) which uses a percentage of sales or overage for additional rent or sets a base onto which is added expenses and taxes in a net lease or increases in those items in a fully serviced lease.

Base Year - The 12 month period upon which a direct expense escalation of rent is based. Typically the calendar year the lease commences.

CAM Charges - Common Area Maintenance charges. Those charges levied on or the expenses incurred in maintaining the common areas of a building.

Capitalization Rate – Acceptable rate of return that a buyer will accept on an income producing property – this rate is then used to determine the price of the property.

Common Area - Common area is the area used in common by the tenants of an office building. Common area includes building and elevator lobbies, restrooms and the corridor leading from an elevator lobby to a tenant space.

Gross Lease – Lease where landlord pays CAM, taxes and insurance

Ground Lease – Lease where the tenant owns the building but the landlord owns the land

Income Approach – Method of appraisal/valuation that capitalizes an income stream to determine a sale price.

Letter of Intent (or LOI) - There are potentially multiple uses of this term. Generally a written statement that two parties to a prospective transaction (buyer/seller or lessor/lessee) intend to proceed to a final agreement in good faith on stated principal business terms of the deal to be entered into. This meaning applies when executed by both parties. Alternatively such a document may be signed only by one party and is then an indication of a willingness to enter into agreement on the stated terms and conditions. To avoid legal issues regarding offer and acceptance and thus formation of a binding contract, care should be taken to include a clause stating that there is not a specific offer and no intent to be a legally binding obligation. However, an obligation to continue to negotiate in good faith to conclusion can be created.

Net Lease (often called Triple Net Lease) – Type of lease where the tenant pays some or all of CAM charges, taxes and insurance.

Operating Expenses - The cost of operating an office building, such as janitorial, management fees, utilities, and similar day to day expenses, as well as taxes, insurance, and a reserve for replacement of items which periodically wear out. Should not include capital expenses such as roof replacement, nor expenses associated with the production of income such as leasing commissions and legal fees.

Option Agreement – Gives buyer the option to buy a property at a certain price for a certain period of time.

Percentage Rent – The additional rent paid by a tenant based on a percentage of their gross sales. (Used in retail.)

Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S) – This is the legal document that contractually obliges the seller to transfer title (and the buyer to pay) under certain conditions.

Shell (or Base Building) - The existing shell condition of a building prior to the installation of tenant improvements. This condition varies from building to building, landlord to landlord, and generally involves the level of finish above the ceiling grid.


Debt Tranche - Refers to one of several related securitized bonds offered as part of the same deal. The word tranche is French for slice, section, series, or portion; in the financial sense of the word, each bond is a slice of the deal's risk. Legal documents usually refer to the tranches as "classes" of notes identified by letter (e.g. the Class A, Class B, Class C securities).

Free Cash Flow (FCF) - Cash flow available for distribution among all the security holders of a company.

Return on Invested Capital - A financial measure that quantifies how well a company generates cash flow relative to the capital it has invested in its business. It is defined as net operating profit less adjusted taxes divided by invested capital and is usually expressed as a percentage.
Return on Invested Capital can be computed as:
ROIC =(Net Operating Profit – Taxes) / (Total Capital)

Internal Rate of Return - A capital budgeting metric used by firms to decide whether they should make investments. It is an indicator of the efficiency of an investment (as opposed to NPV, which indicates value or magnitude). The IRR is the annualized effective compounded return rate that can be earned on the invested capital (i.e., the yield on the investment).

Net Present Value or NPV - A standard method for the financial appraisal of long-term projects. It measures the excess or shortage of cash flows, in present value (PV) terms, once financing charges are met. By definition, NPV = present value of net cash flows.

Shareholder Equity - A firm’s total assets minus its total liabilities. Equivalently, it is share capital plus retained earnings minus treasury shares. Shareholders' equity is the amount by which a company is financed through common and preferred shares.

Mezzanine Debt - Unsecured, high-yield, subordinated debt, or preferred stock that represents a claim on a company's assets that is senior only to that of a company’s shareholders.

Operating Margin - The ratio of operating income (the difference between operating revenues and operating expenses) divided by net sales, usually presented as a percentage.

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