A flyer is a form of paper advertisement intended for wide distribution and typically posted or distributed in a public place, handed out to individuals or sent through the mail. In the 2010s, flyers range from inexpensively photocopied leaflets to expensive, glossy, full-colour circulars.
A flyer is also called a “flier”, “circular”, “handbill”, “pamphlet”, “poster”, “lit'” (literature), “weekly ad”, “catalogue” or “leaflet”.
Flyers may be used by individuals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations or governments to:
Advertise an event such as a music concert, nightclub appearance, festival, or political rally
Promote goods-selling businesses such as a used car lot discount store or a service business such as a restaurant or massage parlour.
Persuade people about a social, religious, or political message, as in evangelism or political campaign activities on behalf of a political party or candidate during an election. Flyers have been used in armed conflict: for example, airborne leaflet propaganda has been a tactic of psychological warfare.
Recruit members for organizations or companies.
Like postcards, pamphlets and small posters, flyers are a low-cost form of mass marketing or communication. There are many different flyer formats. Some examples include:
A4 (roughly letterhead size)
A5 (roughly half letterhead size)
DL (compliments slip size)
A6 (postcard size)
Common Sense was a pamphlet that was distributed preceding the American Revolution
Flyers are inexpensive to produce and they required only a basic printing press from the 18th century to the 20th century. Their widespread use intensified in the 1990s with the spread of less expensive desktop publishing systems. In the 2010s, inexpensive black and white flyers can be produced with just a personal computer, computer printer and photocopier. In the 2010s, the ordering of flyers through traditional printing services has been supplanted by Internet services. Customers send designs, review proofs online or via e-mail and receive the final products by mail.
Flyers are not a new medium: prior to the War of American Independence some colonists were outraged with the Stamp Act (1765) and gathered together in anti-stamp act congresses and meetings. In these congresses they had to win support, and issued handbills and leaflets, pamphlets, along with other written paraphernalia, to do so.
In the 2000s, some jurisdictions have laws or ordinances banning or restricting leafleting or flyering in certain locations. Owners of private property may put up signs saying “Post No Bills”; this occurs particularly on wooden fences surrounding building sites or vacant lots.