Bylines on Written Articles

The byline tells the reader who wrote an article

byline
Give credit with a byline.

 

In design, a byline is a short phrase that indicates the name of the author of an article in a publication. Used in newspapers, magazines, blogs and other publications, the byline tells the reader who wrote the piece.  

In addition to giving credit where credit is due, a byline adds a level of legitimacy to the article; if a piece has a byline from an experienced writer with a good reputation, it's a sign of credibility for the reader.

Bylines in Newspapers and Other Publications

The byline usually appears after the headline or subhead of an article but before the dateline or body copy. It's almost always prefaced by the word "by" or other wording that indicates that this piece of information is the name of the author.

Difference Between Bylines and Taglines

A byline should not be confused with a tagline, which usually appears at the bottom of an article.

When an author credit appears at the end of the article, sometimes as part of a mini-bio of the author, this is usually referred to as a tagline. Taglines generally serve as complements to bylines. Usually, the top of an article is not a place where a publication wants a lot of visual clutter, so things like dates or the writer's area of expertise are saved for the tagline area at the end of the copy.

A tagline may be used if a second writer (other than the one in the byline) contributed to an article but was not responsible for the majority of the work.

Taglines also may be used to provide additional information about the author such as email address or telephone number.

If the tagline is positioned at the bottom of the article, it is usually accompanied by a couple of sentences giving the writer's credentials or biography. Usually the author's name is in bolded or larger type, but differentiated from the body text by a box or other graphic.

Appearance of a Byline

The byline is a simple element. It is distinct from the headline and body copy and should be set apart but does not require a prominent design element like a box or a large font.

Examples:

  • By John Q. Public
  • Written by John Q. Public
  • John Doe, Political Correspondent
  • John Doe, as told to John Q. Public

When the byline appears on an article on a website, it is often accompanied by a hyperlink to the writer's website, email address or social media handle. This isn't necessarily a standard practice; if a writer is a freelancer or not on staff with the publication in question, there may be no obligation to link to their outside work. Just be sure all the terms are agreed upon with the writer before the article is published.

After you decide upon a style—font, size, weight, alignment and format—for bylines in the publication you are working on, be consistent. Your bylines should look uniform and be unobtrusive for reader experience unless there's a compelling reason to prominently highlight the writer's name.