It's a custom on some publications to write 'hed' instead of 'head' or 'headline', 'graf' instead of 'paragraph', 'dek' instead of 'deck', and so on. Not in the copy itself, of course, but in notes for the production staff and when labelling up copy.
I've read that the deliberate misspellings are to make sure that these words don't get mistaken for copy and accidentally printed.
We don't use 'hed', 'graf' and so forth on our publications – perhaps it's only a US custom and not a UK one. (Having said that, I've never worked for one of the big papers here in the UK, so I can't really say either way.)
Instead, what we do when labelling up copy or introducing notes into copy is to use [SQUARE BRACKETS AND ALL CAPS]. For example:
[NOT FOR WEB]
This is the headline
And this is the slightly longer standfirst...
These [SQUARE BRACKETS AND CAPS] really jump out at you and are very unlikely to sneak into print. It hasn't happened in the three years I've worked for the company, anyway.
And yes – we use 'standfirst' rather than 'deck'. I assume they are similar. I've also heard them referred to by freelancers as an 'intro'.
On our publications, we don't have an equivalent term for another common journalise misspelling: 'lede' (the leading sentence in a story). And we use 'lead' to refer to the main story on a page or spread.
If anyone could shed any more light on the 'hed, dek, graf, lede' practice I would be grateful. I'd also like to hear what production staff do on other publications.
And here are some interesting links I've found:
3 days ago