All about the United Kingdom’s national, regional and local press


Audit Bureau of Circulations

An organisation set up by the Society of British Advertisers in 1931 as an impartial auditor of newspapers’ claimed circulation, to enable potential advertisers to make an informed choice of which newspapers to publish in. It soon attracted involvement from leading newspaper publishers’ associations. The vast majority of national, regional and local newspapers are ABC-audited, but one or two publishers – notably Tindle Newspapers and Archant London – are not.


A format of newspaper a little taller and wider than a tabloid, adopted by The Guardian in 2005 but so far by no other British newspapers. Paradoxically, it’s not all that common in Germany either.


A method of distributing freesheet newspapers. Distributors at busy strategic locations – particularly railway stations, bus stations and high streets – give copies of the newspaper away to passers-by. Archant (particularly Archant London) have been pursuing this model of distribution increasingly actively in recent years.


Strictly speaking, this is nothing more than a format of newspaper: in the United Kingdom, the size is generally 749 mm x 597 mm (originally 29½ inches x 23½ inches) for a full two-page spread.

Over the years, however, the word began to take on connotations of quality as well as format, with the rise of the tabloid format. While the popular press were quick to adopt the smaller, more manageable size of newspaper, the titles offering greater depth of coverage and analysis carried on using broadsheet paper. As a result, the terms “broadsheet” and “tabloid” came to have connotations of the degree of sophistication of content, reporting and analysis offered, regardless of size.

That distinction’s being lost as more and more of the national quality newspapers abandon the broadsheet format in favour of what they euphemistically call “compact”. The only remaining national papers currently published as broadsheets are the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Financial Times.


Section of a newspaper devoted to advertising classified by subject matter – hence the title. Sometimes also called the “small ads”, since many of the adverts may consist of just a couple of lines and a contact number.


See tabloid.


Also known as a digital edition, this is a reproduction of the print version of a newspaper for online viewing, usually with the ability to zoom in on a particular part of the page for easier reading. Many include enhancements such as clickable links to advertisers’ websites, the ability to print copies of pages, and even rustling noises to accompany the turning of pages. It may require a proprietary program to display the newspaper, although most are able to be read using a browser with Adobe Flash support.


As the name implies, a freesheet is a newspaper that’s free of cost to the end user. Many freesheets have a nominal price indicated on their front page, although in practice very few copies may actually be sold.


In newspaper terms, a group can be one of two things:

(a) A number of newspaper publishing companies in common ownership;

(b) A number of newspapers with separate editorial operations but all owned by the same company.

Gutter press

Contemptuous term for the Popular press.


See Quality press.


Descriptive term applied to newspapers that have pretensions to offering more political reporting and analysis than the popular press, but still heavily laced with relatively lightweight reporting such as the entertainment world, fashion and gossip. Exemplified in the UK by the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.


A type of paper used for printing newspapers. It’s coarser than writing-paper and thus cheaper; ideal for a publication which by its nature most people have only a short-term use for. It’s also strong and able to be printed easily with relatively good quality reproduction.


As you’d imagine, a newspaper that has to be paid for by the customer, as opposed to a freesheet.


A form of distribution where newspapers are left in a pile in a busy location – typically railway stations, libraries and supermarkets – for passers-by to pick up and take away free.

Popular press

Newspapers aimed at the mass market, with relatively little serious political or economic content but considerable amounts of sport, celebrity gossip, scandal and trivial but unusual news. Also known as “red-tops” in the UK, as the market’s dominated by newspapers whose mastheads consist of bold white lettering on a red background: The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star.

Quality press

Nickname given to newspapers which feature a substantial amount of in-depth reporting of political and economic news, coupled with high-quality analysis and editorial opinion, and often with reporting of the arts, education and other high-brow matters.


See Popular press.


Advertising that may be inserted by the editor anywhere that’s convenient to fill space. Cheaper for the advertiser than advertising in a requested specified space.


In newspaper terms, a series is several newspapers edited by the same team, covering neighbouring geographical areas and often with very similar titles.

Slip edition

A sub-edition of a newspaper that consists of virtually the same content except for the outermost sheet (in other words, the front page, the inside front page, the back page and the inside back page). It allows a newspaper to provide a local edition at low production cost.

Small ads

See Classifieds.


A session held by a local journalist in a public location (eg a library, pub or cafe) where members of the public can raise issues they’d like to see covered in the journalist’s newspaper. Surgeries are increasingly replacing fully-fledged local offices as newspapers endeavour to cut costs.


By far the most popular size of newspaper in the United Kingdom, with pages roughly 430 mm (16.9 inches) high and 280 mm (11 inches) wide.

The format originated in the early twentieth century and was applied to newspapers that used “tabloid journalism” – journalism that reduced stories to a compressed, easily digestible format. (Originally the word “Tabloid” was used by Burroughs Wellcome & Co. to market their compressed, easily digestible medicinal pills.) Over the years more and more local newspapers adopted it as a more portable and convenient format than the bulky broadsheet size. (So, in recent years, have the more serious national newspapers – although they refer to the format euphemistically as “compact”.)

Yellow journalism

Journalism that focuses on scandal and sensation to attract readers rather than properly-researched news stories. The Sunday Sport exemplifies yellow journalism in the UK press, as to a certain extent the News of the World did before it.