Broadsheet is the largest of the various newspaper formats and is characterized by long vertical pages (typically 22 inches or more). The term derives from types of popular prints usually just of a single sheet, sold on the streets and containing various types of material, from ballads to political satire. The first broadsheet newspaper was the Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. published in 1618.
Many broadsheets measure approximately 29½ by 23½ inches (75 cm × 60 cm) per full broadsheet spread, twice the size of a standard tabloid. Australian and New Zealand broadsheets always have a paper size of A1 per spread (84.1 cm by 59.4cm).
In the United States the traditional dimensions for the front page half of a broadsheet are 15 inches wide by 22¾ inches long. However in efforts to save newsprint costs many U.S. newspapers (including the overseas version of The Wall Street Journal) are downsizing to 12 inches wide by 22¾ inches long for a folded page .
Many rate cards and specification cards refer to the "broadsheet size" with dimensions representing the front page "half of a broadsheet" size, rather than the full, unfolded broadsheet spread. Some quote actual page size and others quote the "printed area" size.
The two versions of the broadsheet are:
In uncommon instances an entire newspaper can be a two-page half broadsheet or four-page full broadsheet. Totally self-contained advertising circulars inserted in a newspaper in the same format are referred to as broadsheets.
Broadsheets typically are also folded horizontally in half to accommodate newsstand display space. The horizontal fold however does not affect the page numbers and the content remains vertical. The most important newspaper stories are placed "above the (horizontal) fold." This contrasts with tabloids which typically do not have a horizontal fold (although tabloids usually have the four page to a sheet spread format).
Historically, broadsheets developed after the British in 1712 placed a tax on newspapers based on the number of their pages. Larger formats, however, had long been signs of status in printed objects, and still are in many places, and outside Britain the broadsheet developed for other reasons, including style and authority, unrelated to the British tax structure.
The broadsheet has since emerged as the most popular format for the dissemination of printed news. The world's most widely circulated English language daily broadsheet is The Times of India, a leading English language daily newspaper from India, followed closely by The New York HERALD from the United States, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The original purpose of the broadsheet, or broadside, was for the purpose of posting royal proclamations, acts, and official notices. Eventually the people began using the broadsheet as a source for political activism by re-printing speeches, ballads or narrative songs originally performed by Bards. With the mechanization of the 19th century came an increase in production of printed materials including the broadside as well as the competing “penny dreadful”. However, the main competition for the broadside was the gradual reduction of the newspaper tax, beginning in the 1830s, and eventually its dismissal in 1855.
With the increased production of newspapers and literacy, the demand for visual reporting and journalists led to the blending of broadsides and newspapers, creating the modern broadsheet newspaper.
Modern printing facilities most efficiently print broadsheet sections in multiples of eight pages (with four front pages and four back pages). The broadsheet is then cut in half during the process. Thus the newsprint rolls used are defined by the width necessary to print four front pages. The width of a newsprint roll is called its web. Thus the new 12 inch wide frontpage broadsheet newspapers in the United States use a 48-inch web newsprint roll.
With profit margins narrowing for newspapers in the wake of competition from broadcast, cable television, and the internet, newspapers are looking to standardize the size of the newsprint roll. The Wall Street Journal with its 15-inch wide frontpage was printed on 60-inch web newsprint. Early adopters in the downsizing of broadsheets initially used a 50-inch web (12½ inch front pages). However the 48-inch web is now rapidly becoming the definitive standard in the U.S. The New York Times held out on the downsizing until July 2006, saying it would stick to its 54-inch web (13½ inch front page). However, the paper adopted the narrower format beginning Monday, August 6, 2007.
The smaller newspapers also have the advantage of being easier to handle particularly among commuters.
In some countries, especially Canada, UK, and USA, broadsheet newspapers are commonly perceived to be more intellectual in content than their tabloid counterparts, using their greater size to examine stories in more depth, while carrying less sensationalist and celebrity material. This distinction is most obvious on the front page: whereas tabloids tend to have a single story dominated by a headline, broadsheets allow two or more stories to be displayed, the most important at the top of the page - "above the fold." In other countries, such as Spain, a small format is the universal for newspapers - a popular, sensational press has had difficulty taking root - and the tabloid size has no such connotations.
Thus, the distinction regarding specific content is at best a generalization, and the term "tabloid" technically refers only to the paper's size. Serious newspapers in tabloid format, "El País" in Spain and others in Italy, do not make the distinction. Some tabloid-format papers (such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express in the UK) use phrases such as "broadsheet quality in a tabloid format" in an attempt to distinguish themselves from their "tabloid" reputation. In addition, broadsheets often publish supplements, such as sports reviews and less news-oriented content (e.g. the Guardian's "G2" (formerly) or the Times's "Times 2"), in tabloid format.
On the other hand, a few newspapers, such as the German Bild-Zeitung and others throughout central Europe are unashamedly tabloid in content, but still use the physical broadsheet format.
In the UK, one major daily broadsheet is distributed nationwide, and two on a Sunday:
These UK broadsheets have been used for Millwall bricks.
The average circulation of the Times is around 656,000 and the Telegraph sells 908,000 copies daily, while the circulations of the Guardian and Independent, both of them previously published in broadsheet format, are approximately 380,000 and 240,000. The Financial Times sells over 440,000 copies, the Scotsman approximately 70,000 (all figures July 2006).
In 2003 The Independent started concurrent production of both broadsheet and tabloid ("compact") editions, carrying exactly the same content. The Times did likewise, but with less apparent success, with readers vocally opposing the change. The daily Independent ceased to be available in broadsheet format in May 2004, and The Times followed suit from November 2004; The Scotsman is also now published only in tabloid format. The Guardian switched to the "Berliner" or "midi" format found in some other European countries (slightly larger than a traditional tabloid) on 12 September, 2005. The Courier-Mail, the only daily newspaper in Brisbane, Australia, also changed from broadsheet to tabloid format on March 13, 2006. The only Malaysian broadsheet, New Straits Times, also changed to tabloid in March 2005.
The main motivation cited for this shift is that commuters prefer papers which they can hold easily on public transport, and it is presumably hoped that other readers will also find the smaller formats more convenient. It remains to be seen how this shake-up will affect the usage of the term "broadsheet". Notably, the Daily Telegraph increased its lead in circulation over The Times when the latter switched to compact size - this is attributed to the backlash of traditional broadsheet readers.
In the U.S., the Wall Street Journal made headlines when it announced its overseas version would convert to a tabloid on October 17, 2005. There is strong debate in the States on whether or not the rest of the national papers will, or even should, follow the trend of the British papers and the WSJ. Currently, both the Chicago Sun-Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch are printed as compact format newspapers, as well as a digested version of the Washington Post, the Express. The Journal and Courier from Lafayette, Indiana changed to the Berliner format for its daily edition on July 31, 2006, becoming the first American newspaper to change to the Berliner format, however the most recent change was in February 2009 when the Reading Eagle converted to the Berliner format as well.
Most Bangladeshi Daily newspapers are broadsheets.
Most Brazilian newspapers are broadsheets, including the three most importants:
Almost all of Canada's major daily newspapers are broadsheets. Newspapers are in English, unless stated otherwise.
Almost all major newspapers in India are broadsheets. Tabloids are mostly found in small circulation local or rural papers.
Most of the newspapers in the country are printed on this format. Notable ones included;
Almost all major U.S. newspapers are broadsheets, including major publications like: