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Distinctions Among Types of Periodicals: Home

This will help you understand what type of print publication you are dealing with.

Type of Periodicals


Click on the gray buttons to see examples. Academic Journals Substantial News/General Interest Popular Magazines Newspapers
Purpose To inform, report, and make available original research and new findings To offer in-depth reporting and feature articles without scholarly conventions To entertain and inform without providing in-depth analysis To disseminate news on a daily or weekly basis
Subjects Often devoted to a single discipline or subdiscipline Cover a wide variety of topics that may be of interest to the readership Will often focus on a particular subject or hobby but may also cover a variety of topics Will encompass current events in politics, sports, leisure, religion, and business
Contributors Subject specialists and experts in the field Staff writers, freelance journalists, preeminent authors, and scholars Journalists, freelance writers, and editorial staff Local staff, newswire services, and syndicated columnists
Intended Audience Researchers and specialists who are peers to the contributors A general but educated and well-read audience A general readership of non-specialists A general audience with an interest in the news
Article Coverage Articles are generally lengthy and devoted to one very specific, narrow subject or piece of research Articles are often lengthy and range from in-depth reporting and analysis to opinion and general interest features Articles are often brief and provide general information without going into great detail Articles cover a vast array of topics, but content is usually determined by current events
Language Employ specialized terminologies which often only a handful of scholars might understand Avoid jargon and use language that is appropriate for an educated readership Use no jargon or subject-specific knowledge Use common words and simple sentence structures
Sources Cite sources in footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies May refer to sources but not document them in any formal way Infrequently mention sources making information difficult to substantiate or trace Usually name sources but, in some instances, sources are kept confidential
Apearance Usually plain black print on white paper. May contain graphs and charts but seldom contain photographs or colorful graphics Some photographs and graphics but usually not as many as popular magazines Slick and glossy with photographs, illustrations, graphics, and interest-catching cover stories Usually thin, inexpensive paper stock and black ink. The amount of color and illustrative matter are determined by editorial policy
Advertising Limited advertising Ads are present but not a predominant feature Ads are present and may be a predominant feature Accept advertising of all sorts, usually offering both classified and display ads
This tutorial was originally developed for the Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Lori Foulke, Stephanie Baker, Marianne Stowell Bracke, and Tom Kmetz. It is used here with permission.  It was updated in 2008 by Susan Lane.  It was reformatted for LibGuides in 2011 by Tom Kmetz.