Common Newspaper Ad Sizes

Despite the rise of the internet and all its "new media" advertising opportunities, newspaper advertising can still be an effective way for small businesses to reach a local audience. Newspaper ads cost less than many other forms of advertising, such as TV commercials. If you're a business owner new to newspaper advertising, you will soon become acquainted with the common ad sizes in use across the industry.

The Basics of Newspaper Ad Sizes

Newspapers lay out their pages in a column format. A standard page typically has six columns, each of which will measure 2 1/16 inches in width in a broadsheet newspaper. Some sections might use a different number of columns. For example, the Houston Chronicle prints its classified pages in 10 columns, while the employment section uses only four.

The standard unit of advertising space is the "column inch," which simply means a space equivalent to one standard column in width, 1 inch long. This provides the basis for calculating the size of any ad.

Large Spaces for Ads

There are 56 standard sizes for broadsheet newspaper advertising and 32 for tabloid format newspapers. A full-page ad consists of all six columns of content at the full depth of the page. In broadsheet format that's 21 inches, for a total of 132 column-inches. The largest ad size spreads across two full pages, and is referred to as a "double-truck" ad. Half pages, quarter pages and 1/8 pages are also large advertisements, with ample room for text and images. They can be laid out in a number of shapes, but represent a consistent number of column-inches.

Small Spaces for Ads

Spaces smaller than 1/8 page can still be an effective, low-cost advertising option for many purposes. Bear in mind that smaller spaces require minimal content. Use simple, easily grasped images and keep the text portion of your ad short and punchy. Directing readers to your website is an excellent use of a small space. Or, you can communicate one simple message along with your contact information. Small sizes range all the way from 1/16 page down to a single column-inch, the smallest possible size.

Buying Ad Space

Buying advertising space in a newspaper involves a delicate balancing act between your budget and your desired exposure. Full-page advertising has high impact, but it also comes at a high price. Repetition is important to the success of a campaign, so it's often better to buy a smaller ad for a longer time. Most newspapers offer substantial discounts for standing ads that will run regularly for weeks or months. Prices are also lower for "camera-ready" copy, which doesn't require any work by the paper's staff. There's often leeway to negotiate prices, especially with smaller local papers.