10 takes … on Taglines.


Question: What’s the difference between taglines, tags, end lines, straplines, baselines, shout lines, loglines, attention grabbers, pay-offs and signatures?

Tag lines, tags and attention grabbers are U.S. terms for taglines. In the UK, end line, shout line and strapline are also used. Pay-off is the Italian label for tagline. Belgians call a tagline a baseline, and the French refers to taglines as signatures.

A tagline is a teaser; a short snappy sentence that captures the nub of your book. Its job is to supplement the book cover by adding intrigue and persuade readers to read the blurb or first paragraph.

Loglines are different.

The word, originally a nautical term, got used, I believe, in the film industry back in the day when studios had scripts stacked in vaults. A succinct one line summary of its contents got written on the side of each file, which served as a navigational tool and negated the need to dislodge piles of scripts while searching.

A logline is a one-sentence synopsis that captures the main character, the conflicts and the stakes.

Other differences between Taglines and Loglines

Taglines appear on the book front cover. Loglines don’t.

Taglines vary between 6-12 words. Loglines are 1-2 sentences in length.

Taglines are promotional hooks. Loglines are concise descriptions.


Jaws Tagline: Don’t go in the water.
Jaws Logline: Private feuds take second place during a relentless duel between man and beast, as a sheriff fights to protect a beach community after a deadly shark attack.

Alien Tagline: In space, no one can hear you scream.
Alien Logline: When the crew of a space merchant vessel responds to a distress signal, one of their members is attacked by a mysterious extra-terrestrial, whose life cycle has just begun.

Some authors don’t use taglines, but if you decide to create one …

  • It’s a good idea to start with a logline and then eliminate words until you end up with a short punchy sentence that conveys the essence of the novel.
  • Make the genre clear. Whether science fiction, comedy, noir or cosy crime, the tagline should hint at what’s inside the cover.
  • Exclude character names. If needs be, include a descriptive word – barrister, alcoholic detective, eccentric recluse, prison warden, retired soldier, etc.
  • If you’re writing fiction, include urgency. What’s at stake? What can be lost?
  • You don’t need the book title in the tagline.
  • Read the one-line blurbs on any of the Bestseller Lists for inspiration. Pithy, one-sentence book descriptions are an art form.
  • Check online for pitching competitions. https://pitchwars.org/ is good, and literary agency http://amheath.com/ usually run a yearly contest.
  • Pretend you want to put your tagline on Twitter and you’ve got the 280 character count to play with… Go!
  • Got it? Good. Now, I bet you can change words around and eliminate more. Try the Twitter 140 character target.
  • You won’t achieve this in five minutes or five hours. It could take weeks to come up with a memorable tagline.

    If all else fails, there are free apps online that’ll help you generate taglines. (Yep, there are apps for that too!) 

To get you started, I’ve included a handful of my favorite crime fiction taglines. (Note: none are over 12 words).

“A Missing Child. No Explanations. No Ransom Demands. No Hope.” Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer.

“Four Bodies. One Suspect. No Trace.” Dead Simple by Peter James.

“She Knew Everything About Him … But the Truth.” Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent.

“Could You Murder Your Wife To Save Your Daughter?” Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft.

“There’s a Body in the Water – and She’s Wearing Your Clothes.” The Evil Beneath by A. J. Waines.

“When The Targets Are Random … You Could Be Next.” Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell.

“A House Full of Secrets. A Life Full of Lies.” Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey.

“You Trust Him. So Why Are You So Scared?” The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.

“7 Guests. 7 Secrets. One Killer” Sleep by C. L. Taylor.

“This Time There Are No Rules.” A Deadly Trade by Eve Seymour.

“The Bad Man is Everywhere … But Can You See Him?” Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips.