Circulation 101: General U.S. Newspaper Circulation Terms

The U.S. newspaper circulation industry comes with its own unique vernacular that is used throughout AAM rules, standards and data. Let’s review some of the general terminology and what it means.



In our Circulation 101 columns, we explore some of the foundational knowledge needed to understand and analyze print and digital circulation. Whether you’re new to circulation and AAM and need a quick cheat sheet or you’re a veteran looking for a quick refresh, we’ve got something for you.

The traditional hard-copy newspaper.


Digital Replica
An exact copy of the newspaper’s hard-copy print edition in a digital format. The layout, editorial content and advertising content are all consistent with the print edition.


Digital Nonreplica
This digital edition varies from the hard-copy print edition but still features similar editorial content. Advertising content may differ.


Net of Considerations
A consideration is anything that a consumer may be offered to encourage them to purchase a newspaper. For example, a coffee mug featuring the newspaper’s logo or tickets to a local sporting event are both considerations. Net of considerations is the amount of money the publisher receives after the value of the consideration has been deducted from the purchased price of the newspaper or subscription.


Paid Subscriptions
To qualify as paid, a consumer must have paid at least one penny, net of all considerations, for the newspaper subscription.


Paid Single-Copy Sales
Copies of the newspaper sold at newsstands, racks, retail outlets, etc. Again, the consumer must have paid at least one penny, net of considerations.


Qualified Nonpaid
These copies are distributed free of charge to readers and include home-delivery requested, home-delivery targeted, education copies, university copies, employee/agent copies, and retail business. You can learn more about qualified nonpaid circulation by downloading our full newspaper definitions guide.


Verified Nonpaid
This is another category of circulation distributed free of charge to readers. These copies are delivered directly to readers’ homes or found in public places. Categories include home delivery (also known as market coverage) and public access copies (delivered to apartments, events/racks and other distribution). You can read more in the full newspaper definitions guide.


Total Average Circulation – Print & Digital Replica and Nonreplica
The sum of total paid, total qualified nonpaid and total verified nonpaid circulation.

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U.S. Newspaper Circulation Types and Definitions
U.S. Newspaper Circulation Types and Definitions

A glossary of paid and nonpaid circulation terms.

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Circulation 101: U.S. Newspaper Terms for Nonpaid Circulation
Circulation 101: U.S. Newspaper Terms for Nonpaid Circulation

U.S. newspaper reports and data have separate categories for nonpaid circulation. Read this brief overview ...

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