A broadsheet is the largest newspaper format and is characterized by long vertical pages (typically 22 inches or 56 centimetres). 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 29 1⁄2 by 23 1⁄2 inches (749 by 597 mm) 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 (841 by 594 mm or 33.1 by 23.4 in). South African broadsheet newspapers have a double-page spread sheet size of 820 by 578 mm or 32.3 by 22.8 in (single-page live print area of 380 x 545 mm). Others measure 22 inches or 560 millimetres vertically.
In the United States, the traditional dimensions for the front page half of a broadsheet are 15 inches (381 mm) wide by 22 3⁄4 inches (578 mm) long. However, in efforts to save newsprint costs many U.S. newspapers  have downsized to 12 inches (305 mm) wide by 22 3⁄4 inches (578 mm) 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).
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 Wall Street Journal from the United States, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
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 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 reprinting speeches, ballads or narrative songs originally performed by bards. With the early mechanization of the 19th century came an increase in production of printed materials including the broadside as well as the competing penny dreadful. In this period newspapers all over Europe began to print their issues on broadsheets. However, in the United Kingdom, 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 front page 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 12-inch wide frontpage was printed on 48-inch web newsprint. Early adopters in the downsizing of broadsheets initially used a 50-inch web (12 1⁄2-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 (13 1⁄2-inch front page). However, the paper adopted the narrower format beginning Monday, 6 August 2007.
The smaller newspapers also have the advantage of being easier to handle, particularly among commuters.
In some countries, especially Australia, Canada, the UK, and the U.S., broadsheet newspapers are commonly perceived to be more intellectual in content than their tabloid counterparts. They tend to use their greater size to publish stories exploring topics in depth, while carrying less sensationalist and celebrity-oriented 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, of which the most important sit at the top of the page—"above the fold". In other countries, such as Spain, a small format is the universal standard for newspapers—a popular, sensational press has had difficulty taking root—and the tabloid size does not carry such impliedly pejorative connotations.
On the other hand, a few newspapers, such as the German Bild-Zeitung and others throughout central Europe are clearly tabloids in terms of content, but use the physical broadsheet format.
In the United Kingdom, two major daily broadsheets are distributed nationwide, and two on Sundays:
As of April 2011, the average circulation of The Daily Telegraph was around 640,000 copies daily and the Financial Times around 372,000, while the circulations of The Guardian and The Independent, both of them previously published in broadsheet format, were 264,000 and 181,000, respectively.
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 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. It was announced in June 2017 that the Guardian would again change format to tabloid size – the first tabloid edition was published on 15 January 2018.
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.
In the United States, The Wall Street Journal made headlines when it announced its overseas version would convert to a tabloid on 17 October 2005. There was strong debate in the U.S. on whether or not the rest of the national papers will, or even should, follow the trend of the British papers and The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal overseas edition switched back to a broadsheet format in 2015.
Most Bangladeshi daily newspapers are broadsheets.
Most Brazilian newspapers are broadsheets, including the four most important:
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.
Newspapers such as New Straits Times and Berita Harian used to be published in broadsheet, but were published in smaller size instead, from 2005 and 2008, respectively. However, almost all Chinese newspapers in the country continue to publish in broadsheet.
All newspapers in Spain are printed in compact format.
The first major Swedish newspaper to leave the broadsheet format and start printing in tabloid format was Svenska Dagbladet, on 16 November 2000. As of August 2004, there were 26 broadsheet newspapers in total, with a combined circulation of 1,577,700 and 50 newspapers in tabloid with a combined circulation of 1,129,400. On 5 October 2004, the morning newspapers Göteborgs-Posten, Dagens Nyheter, Sydsvenskan and Östersunds-Posten all switched to tabloid, thus making it the leading format for morning newspapers in Sweden by volume of circulation. Most other broadsheet newspapers have followed since. The last daily Swedish newspaper to switch to tabloid was Jönköpings-Posten, 6 November 2013.
Most of the newspapers in Turkey are printed on this format. Notable ones include:
Almost all major papers in the United States are broadsheets.