What Is a Slug Line?

A slug line usually refers to a term for short, descriptive lines of text in journalism or screenwriting, not the slime trail left in the wake of a slug on the move. For journalists, a slug line is typically one or a few words that describe the content of a story, while a screenwriting slug line describes a scene’s setting.

Reuter’s handbook for journalists provides detailed guidelines to writing slugs, which are used to code a story for proper identification and routing. Slug lines may also refer to a specific form of carpooling around the Washington, DC area in which drivers pick up strange passengers in an organized commuting community that follows a strict set of protocols.