Webpage Layout Terms: Kicker

Newspapers in a stack
Frank Barratt / Getty Images

Newspaper layout originated many of the terms we use in page layout for print and web. The term "kicker" is a newspaper term with a dual personality that is used to refer to two different page layout elements—some say intentionally, and some say erroneously.

Kicker as Overline

Often seen in newsletters and magazines, the kicker in page layout is most often recognized as being a short phrase found above the headline. It is usually only a word or two in length, maybe slightly longer. Set in a smaller or different type than the headline and often underscored, the kicker serves as an introduction or as a type of section heading to identify a regular column. Other terms for a kicker are overline, running section head and eyebrow.

Kickers might be boxed, placed in a shape such as a speech bubble or starburst, or set in reversed type or color. Kickers might be accompanied by a small graphic icon, illustration or photo.

Kicker as Deck

Kicker is also used (purists say erroneously) as a substitute term for a deck—the one or two-sentence introduction that appears beneath the headline and before the article. Set in a type size that is smaller than the headline, the deck is a summary of the article it precedes and attempts to tantalize the reader into reading the entire article.

One key aspect of print design is providing visual signposts or visual cues that give the readers a sense of where they are and where they are going. Signposting breaks up text and images into readable, easy-to-follow blocks or panels of information.

A kicker in either of its assigned roles is a form of visual signpost that helps a reader assess an article before committing to reading the whole thing. It gives a small hint as to what is to come or helps identify the type of article readers are about to read. 

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Bear, Jacci Howard. "Webpage Layout Terms: Kicker." ThoughtCo, Nov. 18, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-is-an-article-kicker-1078095. Bear, Jacci Howard. (2021, November 18). Webpage Layout Terms: Kicker. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-article-kicker-1078095 Bear, Jacci Howard. "Webpage Layout Terms: Kicker." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-article-kicker-1078095 (accessed March 20, 2023).