What Is an Article Byline?

The byline tells the reader who wrote the article

newspaper headlines
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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 Online Articles

When the byline appears on an article on a website, it's often accompanied by a hyperlink to the writer's website, email address, or social media handle, or even to another web page on that same site that's full of information on that writer.

This isn't necessarily a standard practice; if a writer is a freelancer or not on staff with the publication in question, there might be no obligation to link to their outside work.

Bylines in Newspapers and Other Publications

Bylines on paper usually appear 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 some other wording that indicates that the 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 lots 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 his or her email address or phone number.

If the tagline is positioned at the bottom of the article, it's usually accompanied by a couple of sentences giving the writer's credentials or biography. Usually, the author's name is bold or in a large font, and differentiated from the body text by a box or other graphics.

The Appearance of a Byline

The byline is a simple element. It's 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.

Here are some byline examples:

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

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