The most popular print newspapers in the UK by circulation are The Sun, the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph. Tabloid newspapers are more popular generally than quality broadsheets, but tabloids are focused on providing light entertainment rather than serious journalism. For this reason, while they may enjoy a wider circulation, they are generally not as highly regarded and might not fare as well as broadsheets in terms of popular opinion.
Circulation and features of the most popular newspapers in the UK are as follows:
Completely sensationalist, The Sun has an average circulation of 3,121,000 copies every day. It is the eighth highest circulating newspaper in the world in any language, and the highest circulating English language newspaper. Politically, it is simply populist, willing to take a stance on the side of whatever the prevailing public opinion might be. It introduced the concept of the page 3 girl back in 1969, and continued with the feature after it improved sales.
A mid-market newspaper, the Daily Mail leans toward conservative views and has a circulation of 2,400,143. Being mid-market, it has a blend of different kinds of news stories, reporting on less serious topics as well as the major news of the day, but also avoiding the sensationalism and sexual obsession of the tabloids. While it does not have the journalistic regard that the quality broadsheets do, the Daily Mail is still one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the UK and thus an important source of news for many.
The Daily Telegraph
The highest selling British quality newspaper, The Daily Telegraph is a centre-right aligned newspaper with a circulation of 842,912. It supports the Tories in most things and has frequently endorsed the Conservative Party for election. With a focus on political stories and important international news, The Daily Telegraph is not as appealing to more casual readers who may be interested in the news, but may only wish to devote a small portion of their time to serious matters.
The Times is the second biggest quality journalism newspaper in the UK, with a circulation of around 617,483. It is the major rival of The Daily Telegraph, though both papers share similar political affiliations, with The Times being closely associated as supporting the Conservative Party. The Times was originally printed as a broadsheet, but now it uses a compact format similar in size to a tabloid.
One of the few major quality newspapers that is left-leaning rather than conservative, The Guardian has a circulation of about 358,844. This ranks it higher than the other major leftist paper, The Independent, but places it far lower than the conservative Telegraph and Times. It has a very popular website, however, which was the first to surpass the 25 million unique users mark in a month for a UK newspaper website. As a quality newspaper, it is focused on serious journalism, but takes a far more liberal view than the more conservative major black-top newspapers.
A business newspaper in the broadsheet format, the Financial Times is one of the most important business focused newspapers in the world. While it only has a small circulation of 75,665 in the UK alone, it has an international circulation of 432,944 due to the importance of the London Stock Exchange, which the Financial Times prints full daily reports on. It has a fairly centrist political philosophy, though it favours free markets and capitalism, for obvious reasons. While not read widely by the regular reading public, it is nevertheless one of the most popular business newspapers in the UK, and certainly the most important.