Legal Advertising

Note: This section deals with notice and advertising requirements placed upon governmental units (such as state and local governments, zoning boards, courts), corporations, and unincorporated associations. It does not apply to advertising by attorneys.

Scope of the Newspaper Advertising Act (45 Pa. C.S.A. §302)

The provisions of the Newspaper Advertising Act are intended to be a comprehensive statute that:

(1) Creates uniformity in the publication of legal notices, official advertisements, and advertisements, or abstracts of any notice, statement, or advertisement required by law, rule, order or decree of court to be published in a newspaper.
(2) Defines the publications in which official and legal advertising shall be published.
(3) Prescribes methods for computing the charges for the advertising.
(4) Provides that the expenses for publishing legal advertising or notices shall be taxable and collectible as costs in all matters except as otherwise provided by general rules.
(5) Establishes a uniform method for determining the cost of legal advertising and legal notices, where rates, circulation of the particular publication, size of columns or pages, and kind or size of type used vary, in newspapers of different localities in this Commonwealth.

Back to top.

Definitions (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 101)

Classified advertising. Intelligence or notices, published and printed in small or inconspicuous type, as advertising, classed with similar notices of advertising, and for which compensation is intended to be charged.

Daily newspaper. A newspaper regularly published at least five (5) days in the week, either including or excluding Sundays and legal holidays.

Display advertising. Intelligence made conspicuous, and designated by either reading matter, printed from various sizes, kinds and styles of types, or illustrations, and printed or published for a compensation, demanded or intended to be received from those interested in, affected or served by the subject matter published.

Legal advertisement. A notice, advertisement, publication, statement, or abstract of a notice, advertisement, publication, or statement, required by resolution of a corporation, unincorporated association or government unit, or ordinance of a political subdivision, or by law, or by rule, order or decree of court, to be published, for a valuable consideration, in either a newspaper of general circulation, a legal newspaper or an official newspaper.

Legal newspaper. A newspaper which is a "legal periodical," "official legal newspaper" or “official legal periodical," publishing legal intelligence, as designated by general rule or rule of court for the publication of legal advertisements and notices required by law, rule, order or decree of court, to be published in a legal newspaper, legal periodical, official legal newspaper, or official legal periodical, so designated by general rule or rule of court.

Legal notice. When required to be printed or published, either a legal advertisement, a legal notice, an official advertisement, or an official legal notice.


1. A printed paper or publication, bearing a title or name, and conveying reading or pictorial intelligence of passing events, local or general happenings, printing regularly or irregularly editorial comment, announcements, miscellaneous reading matter, commercial advertising, classified advertising, legal advertising, and other notices, and which has been issued in numbers of four or more pages at short intervals, either daily, twice or more often each week, or weekly, continuously during a period of at least six (6) months, or as the successor of such a printed paper or publication issued during an immediate prior period of at least six (6) months, and which has been circulated and distributed from an established place of business to subscribers or readers without regard to number, for a definite price or consideration, either entered or entitled to be entered under the Postal Rules and Regulations as second class [now, periodical] matter in the United States mails, and subscribed for by readers at a fixed price for each copy, or at a price fixed per annum. A newspaper may be either a daily newspaper, weekly newspaper, newspaper of general circulation, official newspaper or a legal newspaper, as defined in this section. Continuous publication within the meaning of this section shall not be deemed interrupted by any involuntary suspension of publication resulting from loss, destruction, failure or unavailability of operating facilities, equipment or personnel from whatever cause, and any newspaper so affected shall not be disqualified to publish official and legal advertising in the event that publication is resumed within one week after it again becomes possible.

2. A printed paper or publication, regardless of size, contents, or time of issue, or number of copies issued, distributed and circulated gratuitously, is not a newspaper.

3. A printed paper or publication, not entitled to be entered, or which has been denied entry, as second class matter in the United States mails under the Postal Rules and Regulations of the United States is not a newspaper.

Newspaper of general circulation. A newspaper issued daily, or not less than once a week, intended for general distribution and circulation, and sold at fixed prices per copy per week, per month or per annum, to subscribers and readers without regard to business, trade, profession or class.

Notice. A formal printed announcement, transmitting intelligence, information, or warning, to a particular person, or generally to all persons who may read such notice.

Official advertisement. A notice, advertisement, publication or statement, or an abstract of a notice, ad-vertisement, publication or statement, required to be made by law, rule, order or decree of court, by any person, or in the conduct of the business of a private or public corporation, or on the order of any government unit, or in the performance of any official duty imposed by law, rule, order or decree of court, resolution or ordinance.

Official advertising and legal advertising. Any advertisement, notice, statement, report, resolution, or-dinance, or abstract of the same, required by law, rule, order or decree of court, by resolution of any board of directors, shareholders or officers of any corporation or unincorporated association, or any government unit to be printed and published for a valuable consideration in a newspaper.

Official newspaper. A newspaper designated by a government unit for the publication of notices and state-ments required by rule, order, resolution or ordinance of such unit.

Ordinance. A municipal rule or regulation, adopted in the manner required by statute or home rule charter, by the lawfully constituted officers of any political subdivision or municipal or other local authority.

Proof of publication. A printed or written statement, declaring the name of a newspaper of general circu-lation, a legal newspaper or an official newspaper, as defined in this section, its place of business, when the same was established, the date or dates, and issue or issues, in which a printed notice or publication appeared, and to which is securely attached, exactly as printed or published, a copy of the official advertisement, official notice, legal notice or legal advertisement, verified with a statement of the owner, publisher, or the designated agent of the owner or publisher, of such publication in which the official or legal advertisement or notice was published, duly sworn to before a person authorized to administer oaths, and also declaring that the affiant is not interested in the subject matter of the notice or advertising, and that all of the allegations of the statement as to the time, place and character of publication are true.

Publication. Publication is:

1. The act of printing a notice, advertisement or proclamation, for the purpose of disseminating information to the people at large.

2. A journal, magazine, newspaper, class newspaper or periodical."Rate." The price or sum fixed for printing and publishing either official, legal or commercial advertising, and may be either a price or sum fixed for a single reading line in a single column, or for a space of the depth of one inch in a single column, or it may mean the particular stated sums or prices fixed for printing and publishing official or legal advertising, where the style and form does not vary except for the names and addresses of the interested parties, such as notices of applications for charters of incorporation, shareholders' meetings, executors', administrators' or auditors' notices, register of wills' audit notices, obituary or death notices, et cetera.

Resolution. Agreement or consent to do or not to do a certain thing, which has been recorded upon the minutes or records of a government unit, or by either the shareholders, board of directors or other body of a corporation, or by the members, directors, managers or trustees of an unincorporated association or society of individuals.

Rule. Any formal order or direction made by a tribunal or other government unit.

Commonwealth agent. The Governor and the departments, boards, commissions, authorities and other officers and agencies of the Commonwealth government, but the term does not include any court or other officer or agency of the unified judicial system, or the General Assembly and its officers and agencies.

Commonwealth government. The government of the Commonwealth, including the courts and other officers or agencies of the unified judicial system, the General Assembly and its officers and agencies, the Governor, and the departments, boards, commissions, authorities and officers and agencies of the Common-wealth, but the term does not include any political subdivision, municipal or other local authority, or any officer or agency of any such political subdivision or local authority.

Important Cases:

Bensalem Twp. School Dist. v. Gigliotti Corp., 51 Pa.Cmwlth. 609, 415 A.2d 123 (Cmwlth.1980) (notice requirement of Sunshine Law was not satisfied by publication of general news article, a formal printed announcement, transmitting intelligence, information, or warning to public was necessary).

Back to top.

Advertising Rates (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 303)

(45 Pa. C.S.A. § 303)

The general rule regarding advertising rates is that all official and legal advertising shall be charged for at an established or declared rate. When there is no established rate, then the rate charged for official and legal advertising cannot exceed the normal rate charged for commercial, general or any other type of ads.

An exception to this rule is when official and legal advertising is usually published according to a prescribed form or classified under a general heading. If this is the case, it is permissible for newspapers to set rates for official and legal advertising regardless of the space required or rates charged for commercial, general or any other type of advertising.

Back to top.

Establishment and Change of Advertising Rates (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 304)

All newspapers are required to establish fixed rates for official and legal advertising. Newspapers are also required to provide (upon request) detailed schedules listing the rates and charges currently in effect. If the newspapers increase rates, they must provide notice of such increases.

Back to top.

Taxable Charges (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 305)

(45 Pa. C.S.A. § 305)

All charges, costs and expenses connected with legal and official advertising are taxable, collectible and payable just like other court costs and administrative expenses.

Back to top.

Use of Trade Publications (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 306)

(45 Pa. C.S.A. § 306)

In addition to the newspapers in which publication is required, any governmen-tal unit may also advertise for bids for public works, contracts, supplies or equipment in publications devoted to the construction trade. These publications must be published in Pennsylvania at least weekly and circulate among contractors, manufacturers and dealers doing business in the community in which the public works are to be constructed or the supplies or equipment purchased.

An exception applies to cities of the third class and boroughs. In this instance, advertisements for bids for public works, contracts, supplies or equipment may only be placed in publications devoted to the construction trade if the publications meet the following criteria:

1. Established in and regularly issued in the Commonwealth for at least 18 months.
2. Entered, or entitled to be entered, as second class [now periodical] mail
3. Certified income from subscribers in the Commonwealth of not less than $15,000 per year.
4. Advertising rates not greater than those of newspapers of general circulation published in the community having a comparable circulation.

Effect of Failure to Advertise (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 307)

No legal proceeding, matter or case in which notice is required to be given by official or legal advertising, shall be binding and effective upon any interested party unless such advertising is printed and published in the required newspapers of general circulation, official newspapers and legal newspapers. The advertisements must be published in the manner required by statute, court order or rule, or otherwise and proof of such publication must be filed in the matter.

Back to top.

Additional Publication in Legal Journals (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 308)

(45 Pa. C.S.A. § 308)

Every notice or advertisement required by law or rule of court to be published in one or more newspapers of general circulation must also be published in the weekly legal newspaper of the county, if one exists, unless a court order states otherwise. Publication in the legal newspaper must be made as often as is required for newspapers of general circulation and must comply with the same stipulations and regulations as imposed on all newspapers.

However, municipal ordinances, municipal or county auditors' or controllers' reports, school district auditors' or controllers' reports, mercantile appraisers' notice, advertising for bids for contracts for public works, materials or supplies or lists of delinquent taxpayers are specifically excluded from this requirement.

Back to top.

Inclusion of Common Geographical Names (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 309)

Official or legal advertisements must include the common or local name of every road, street, highway, bridge, municipality, village or boundary named in the advertisement. Any errors in the common or local name will not invalidate any matter or proceeding, as long as it is properly and lawfully executed in all other respects.

Back to top.

Unauthorized Advertisements Not to be Published (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 310)

(45 Pa. C.S.A. § 310)

Only government advertisements authorized by law may be published. In addition, advertisements may not be published in more newspapers than the law authorizes.

Back to top.

(Apply to Legal Advertisements by State Government)

Back to top.

Publication of Advertisements by Officers (45 P.S. § 31)

All advertisements published by any officer of the Commonwealth must be pub-lished in the regular advertising columns of the newspaper only, not as display ads.

Back to top.

Copy of Advertisement to Accompany Order for Publication (45 P.S. § 33)

(45 P.S. § 33)

Officers furnishing a legal advertisement for publication must also supply an order giving the number of lines or space the advertisement takes up and the number of insertions required.

Back to top.

Bill to be Accompanied by Order and Affidavit (45 P.S. § 34)

(45 P.S. § 34)

The auditor general may not issue warrants to pay for any authorized advertise-ment unless the bill includes the written or printed order for publication, together with the affidavit of the editor or publisher of the newspaper publishing the advertisement affirming that it has been inserted as ordered.

Back to top.

Contact Us  |  3899 North Front Street, Harrisburg PA 17110  |  Phone: (717) 703-3000  |  Fax: (717) 703-3001