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Successful editorial design begins with understanding and
selecting the most appropriate format (or formats) for publishing
your content. Before the twenty-first century, most periodicals
existed in a single medium—content was either printed or
published digitally on a blog, as a PDF, or in an email newsletter.
Today, its just as likely for a publication’s material to appear
simultaneously in print, on a smartphone, on a tablet, and on
a website sized for a desktop monitor. The type of content,
publication frequency, and expectations of readers all greatly
influence what, where, and how we publish. Just as there
isn’t simply one way to print, screens are not one size fits all.
While technically infinite in variety, print formats communicate
an array of content and often respond to the limitations of
printing, distribution, and display. And while screens may
become more standardized, dierences in physical size, ratio,
and screen resolution (pixels per inch) present dozens of
possible impressions.
From the earliest to the latest innovations in publishing, here
are some of the more popular types and formats for distributing
editorial information.
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29.5 × 23.5 in. (749 x 597 mm)
The first broadsheet newspaper, Courante uyt Italien,
Duytslandt, &c., was published in Amsterdam in 1618. Prior
to this, news was usually relayed in quarto size, similar to
today’s magazines, and the broadsheet format was used
for oicial government notices. The broadsheet retained
its importance and gained popularity after a 1712 British
newspaper tax that was levied by the page. It is now the
most popular format for disseminating printed news.
12.4 × 18.5 in. (315 × 470 mm)
The Berliner format is narrower and shorter than the
broadsheet but shorter and slightly wider than the
tabloid format. It is more popular in Europe and Asia
than in North America. Le Monde, El Pais, and The
Guardian are all printed at the Berliner size.
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8.38 × 10.88 in. (213 × 276 mm)
Many large-circulation and hobby magazines have settled
on this “standard” magazine size in order to minimize
printing and mailing costs, as well as to fit on newsstands.
Subtle variations, such as going slightly bigger or smaller
than the norm, can help these publications stand out.
Consider National Geographic, with its signature 7.13 
10.25-inch (180  260 mm) trim size.
16.9 × 11 in. (430 × 280 mm)
Long favored by alternative and sensational newspapers,
the tabloid adopted its name from a pharmaceutical
innovation that compressed messy powders into tablet
form. “Compact” generally refers to a broadsheet-quality
newspaper printed in a tabloid size. Many magazines, such
as early Interview and Rolling Stone, have published in a
tabloid format. Fashion and luxury magazines such as V
benefit from the maximized eect of the oversized glossy.
6 × 9 in. (152 × 229 mm)
Usually a clear marker of a literary journal or scientific
publication, the journal size lends itself to easy readability
for text-heavy content. Quarterlies also tend toward the
smaller journal format, dierentiating themselves from
monthly and weekly periodicals.
5.38 × 8.38 in. (137 × 213 mm)
In the twentieth century, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, and
Jet made the digest size a very popular format. In the days
before digital cable provided on-screen program listings,
TV Guide once had 20 million subscribers. It was also used
for science-fiction periodicals and comics. Reader’s Digest is
currently the largest paid circulation magazine in the world.
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