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A compact newspaper is a broadsheet-quality newspaper printed in a tabloid format, especially one in the United Kingdom. The term is used also for this size (not to be confused with 4.25 × 6.75 inches or 108 × 171 mm paper sizes) came into use in its current use when The Independent began producing a smaller format edition for London's commuters, designed to be easier to read when using mass transit.
Readers from other parts of the country liked the new format, with the result that The Independent introduced it nationally. The Times and The Scotsman copied the format as The Independent increased sales. All three newspapers are now printed exclusively in compact format following trial periods during which both broadsheet and compact version were produced simultaneously.
The term “compact” was coined in the 1970s by the Daily Mail when that newspaper went tabloid, although the Mail now calls itself a tabloid. It is often used to differentiate newspapers with more traditional content from those with a flamboyant or salacious publishing style, even though they may share the same size. The functional opposite of compact is red top, as the nameplates of British sensationalist tabloids tend to be red.
In Australia, some newspapers had changed to smaller size from broadsheet. The Courier-Mail, the only daily newspaper in Brisbane, refers to itself as a “compact” since its change from a broadsheet format to the standard Australian tabloid size in 2006. Two Fairfax Media-owned newspapers, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, announced in June 2012, that they would change their broadsheet format to a "compact" format as part of cost-cutting measures to maintain profitability. Both newspapers went compact in March 2013, but the former continued broadsheet size on weekends and on Saturdays for the latter.
British quality compact newspapers
Not all of these newspapers call themselves compacts; several continue to call themselves tabloids, but offer content similar to compact newspapers. Quality tabloids such as these differ greatly in their alignment and target demographic inasmuch as political viewpoint; the target market, however, remains the same for each. The physical size of the paper is identical for each; it is also identical for red top papers.
- Daily Mail - middle-market conservative
- Daily Express - middle-market conservative
- The Morning Star - middle-market socialist (in the tradition of Karl Marx)
- The Times - upmarket centrist-conservative
- The Independent - upmarket progressive-liberal
- The Scotsman - upmarket centrist
American compact style newspapers
These are usually newspapers that are distributed freely in newspaper boxes in small towns and use the compact format. Examples of current free compact newspapers are below.
- Express - Washington D.C. metropolitan area
- The Washington Examiner - Local newspaper for the northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area
- "Fairfax cuts deep: papers to tabloids, 1900 staff axed". About us. Crikey. 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Carson, Andrea (3 March 2013). "Two of Australia’s most noted newspapers go tabloid: Will the content follow suit?". Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved 5 February 2014.