The Tabloids or Tabloid newspapers characterized by sensational or bizarre news stories get their name from the tabloid size of the finished publication which is smaller than the standard broadsheet size of most newspapers.
Tabloid as a Paper SizeFold a broadsheet in half or double a sheet of letter size paper and you've got tabloid size.
The actual dimensions of a finished tabloid size publication can vary from 11 x 17 inches to some smaller variation depending on the size of the sheet of paper you start with and the amount of trim.
"In the technical sense, tabloid refers to a type of newspaper that typically measures 11 X 17 inches, which is smaller and narrower than a broadsheet newspaper." Definition of a Tabloid | About.com Journalism
Newsletters are frequently printed on tabloid size paper (and then folded to letter size). Newspapers and posters often come in tabloid size. Learn more about actual tabloid size.
Tabloid as a Style of JournalismDerived in part from the size of the publication, tabloid has a negative association with sensationalist or light and airy journalism.
"Tabloids also tend to be more irreverent and slangy in their writing style than their more serious broadsheet brothers. In a crime story, a broadsheet refers to a police officer, while the tabloid calls him a cop. And while a broadsheet might spend dozens of column inches on "serious" news - say, a major bill being debated in Congress - a tabloid is more likely to zero in on a heinous sensational crime story or celebrity gossip. What's the Difference Between Broadsheet Newspapers and Tabloids? | About.com Journalism
Because of the negative association between tabloid journalism and tabloid size, some newspapers including former broadsheet newspapers that have downsized to tabloid size pages refer to the size as compact.