Magazines and newspapers have ads of different sizes and different issues of the same publication don't always have the exact same template each issue, so I assume they layout the different sections according to the advertisement requests and content for each issue.

My question is, how do they arrange it so they all fit in each issue? What happens if you get a request for one extra ad, be it one whole page or a small quarter page ad, that they have no space for on existing pages and therefore need to have it's on page, and since 1 sheet of paper has 2 pages, there would be at least 1 whole page empty? Say I have 10 pages including the covers. Then someone requests a quarter page ad that would require a whole sheet of paper by itself. How do magazines and newspapers manage to have all their pages filled perfectly every issue, no blanks that would otherwise be earning money through advertising, yet not a single ad too much that would then require a whole new sheet of paper (ie 2 pages)?

  • Pages are usually added in multiples of 4 so each sheet of paper added into a magazine adds 4 pages not 2. I would presume they would just drop out something and/or condense some existing articles.
    – joojaa
    Jun 17, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    As Terry Pratchett wrote in The Truth: "What good luck that every day just enough things happen to fill an entire front page of your news-paper!" (Well, from memory; but the idea is the same.)
    – Jongware
    Jun 18, 2018 at 9:33

2 Answers 2


Newspapers and magazines both require advertising space to be booked ahead of time to allow them to plan the layout of the adds. Sometimes only a day or two in the case of a daily newspaper, but more typically weeks or months in advance, especially for magazines.

They also allocate a set amount of space / number of pages for editorial content and for advertising. The sales team then know how much ad space they have to sell and when that space is fully allocated.

If there are gaps created by unsold space or ads being purchased in sizes that don’t add up to full pages then there are a few tactics to fill up the space, including:

  • Inserting ‘Your ad could be here’ messages that provide the contact details to book ads for the next edition.
  • Inserting ads for when the next edition will be available or adverts for subscriptions, merchandise, etc.
  • Going back to advertisers and offering larger ads at a reduced rate.
  • Approaching previous or future advertisers and offering them space in the forthcoming edition at a reduced rate.

There may be others, but these are all methods that I have encountered in the past. Generally, the advertising sales team would be expected to sell all the available space. That’s their job.

In the scenario that you describe where all the ad space is full, but one more advert must be fitted in, a decision would be made to shorten or remove some of the editorial content to make space. Such as editing an article down from two pages to one and a half or dropping a photograph. Not common in my experience, but I have known it to happen.

Slight disclaimer: it’s been a long, long time since I worked on magazines and ads for newspapers, but I would imagine that at least most of the above is still applicable.


In newspaper you can buy page specific ads only for few pages. Usually 1-2 and next to last and last. The rest are defined by topic (so Finances, travel and so on) so the ad can fall on 10th or 13th page.
Where exactly is the decision of "trafic". Person who get information about the amounts of ads modules (in newspaper lingo you sell ads by modules) then use this amount to fill as most rectangular space on page.
Then they pass information about how much space is "ad-blocked" to editorial trafic that then fill that space with placeholders for journalist to fill.
Usually they don't put one article on page shared with ads. They put few one module (usually explainer or notice) so in the event of ad falling out they can be blowed up. And vice versa - if extra ad show up they can be quickly removed and replaced.

Keep in mind that articles can be also switched from horizontal to vertical. When doing that the same amount of characters fill different amount of modules. For example 2x5 module article is equal to 4x2.

Also personals/want ad can be blowed out or shrinked for a few modules.

And if somebody sell a large one page ads at the last time (or actually don't tell they did that because they sold it after hours so omitting system) then the price is high enough to justify removing whole editorial page or adding 3 extra pages.

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