Here is a picture of a manufacture coupon:
And here is a picture of a Target coupon (that I printed from their website):
Now here are the specifics of each coupon:
Amount: Every coupon will give you the amount that you save. The thing you have to pay attention to is what you're saving on. With some coupons it's only one item and with others you may have to buy two. Also, make sure you read the description, Often the picture shown on a coupon is a picture of the most expensive item you could save on.
Expiration Date: All Coupons will have an expiration date. Most places don't take expired coupons so this one is crucial to pay attention to. (I have read about a program where you can send expired coupons to military families and they can be used...how awesome!)
Type of Coupon: Normally at the top of the coupon you can find what type it is. By type I mean manufacture or store coupon. And remember a lot of stores will take a manufacture coupon and a store coupon for the same item.
Instructions: There's always some fine print on every coupon. I suggest glancing over some of the fine print on some coupons you have, but don't feel that you have to read them all. They're all pretty similar. And once you know the jist, you'll be set. I do recommend reading the fine print on really high value coupons or ones that you think might be too good to be true. Also, at the top of some manufacture coupons there will be a note to not double the coupon. Not all stores double coupons and those that do normally have their own limits as to what amount they will double.
Barcode: All coupons have a barcode, sometimes two or three. You don't have to worry much about these but make sure they are in tact so the store can scan them.
Coming tomorrow-Coupon Lingo :)