The British are great newspaper readers. The British newspapers are often thought of as either “qualities” or “populars”. Quality papers are also known as broadsheets and popular papers are also called tabloids.
The reason that the quality newspapers are called broadsheets and the popular ones tabloids was originally because they were different shapes. Broadsheet refers to the most common newspaper format, which is typically 11 to 12 inches wide and 20 or more inches long. Originally it involves two folds, both vertical and horizontal, six columns across. Fold a broadsheet in half or double a sheet of letter size paper and you've got tabloid size. In the technical sense, tabloid refers to a type of newspaper that typically measures 11 X 17 inches, which is smaller and narrower than a broadsheet, although there is no standard for the precise dimensions of the tabloid newspaper format. Broadsheets are larger newspapers, traditionally associated with higher-quality journalism, and this designation often remains in common usage even if the newspaper moves to printing on smaller pages, as many have in recent years. Thus the terms tabloid and broadsheet are, in non-technical usage, today more descriptive of a newspaper's market position than its physical size.
Quality newspapers are directed at readers who want full information on a wide range of public matters. 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. Broadsheets give their readers long, detailed reports on the latest news and focus on more serious things: politics, economy, government, international events, business, culture.
Popular newspapers appeal to people wanting news of a more entertaining character, presented more concisely. So the tabloids are essentially mass entertainment, as evidenced by the fact that they are smaller than the other papers, have larger illustrations, bold captions and a sensational prose style. Tabloids tend to be written with a simplistic, straightforward vocabulary and grammar; their layout, more often than not, gives greater prominence to the picture than to the word. This leads to an emphasis on gossip, emotion and scandal, and a significant reduction in the news content. Tabloids employ a form of writing known as tabloid journalism; this style emphasizes features such as sensational crime stories, astrology, gossip columns about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, and junk food news.
The 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". While a broadsheet might spend dozens of column inches on "serious" news - say, a major bill being debated in Congress - a tabloid is more likely to zero in on a heinous sensational crime story or celebrity gossip. Tabloids also tend to be more irreverent and slangy in their writing style than their more serious broadsheet brothers. In a crime story, a broadsheet refers to a police officer, while the tabloid calls him a cop. So tabloids present a highly spoken and informal style. Broadsheets have many features in common with formal and written language. Informal language in tabloids tends to be highly attitudinal, emotional and colloquial (abbreviated forms, slang). It tends to employ first names, nicknames and diminutives. Formal language in broadsheets is more neutral and objective (full forms, no slang). It often makes use of titles and full names.
However, the broadsheets do not completely ignore sex and scandal or any other aspect of public life. Both types of paper devote equal amounts of attention to sport. The difference between them is in the treatment of the topics they cover, and in which topics are given the most prominence.