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Due to their low cost and ease of production, pamphlets often have been used to popularize political or religious ideas.
A pamphlet is an unbound booklet (that is, without a hard cover or binding). It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths (called a leaflet), or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and stapled at the crease to make a simple book. In order to count as a pamphlet, UNESCOmarker requires a publication (other than a periodical) to have 'at least 5 but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover pages'; a longer item is a book.

Etymology

The adverb pamphlet for a small work (opuscule) issued by itself without covers came into Middle English ca 1387 as pamphilet or panflet, generalized from a twelfth-century amatory comic poem with a old flavor, Pamphilus, seu de Amore ("Pamphilus: or, Concerning Love"), written in Latin. Pamphilus's name was derived from Greek, meaning "friend of everyone". The poem was popular and widely copied and circulated on its own, forming a slim codex.

Its modern connotations of a tract concerning a contemporary issue was a product of the heated arguments leading to the English Civil War; this sense appeared in 1642. In some European languages other than English, this secondary connotation, of a disputaceous tract, has come to the fore: compare libelle, from the Latin libellus, denoting a "little book".

In Spanish, panfleto is a brief written or libel generally aggressive or defamatory. By extension it is used for political propaganda written. Not to be confused with the term English pamphlet, from which derives, as it does not contain the negative connotations of the Spanish and translated more correctly as folleto.

Pamphlets can contain anything from information on kitchen appliances to medical information and religious treatises. Pamphlets are very important in marketing as they are cheap to produce and can be distributed easily to customers. Pamphlets have also long been an important tool of political protest and political campaigning for similar reasons.

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