Did you know that the US Postal Service delivers 158 billion pieces a year to 153 million addresses? That works out to more than 1,000 pieces per year, per address or 400 million pieces per day. Pretty impressive when you consider this large operation is fueled almost entirely by the sale of postage stamps!
For the postal system to work as well as it does requires mailers to adhere to a plethora of postal regulations, rate classifications, and mail preparation processes. Fortunately, the average marketer doesn’t need to know all the details. Mailing professionals are eager to help make sure your customers, prospects, constituents, patients, members, or alumni get their mailed materials delivered accurately and on time.
But that doesn’t mean the average commercial mailer won’t benefit from a little basic information. When organizations consider the mailing aspects of their projects during the planning stage they end up saving time and money. With that as our objective, we’ve prepared some basic information you can use to get the best results from your investments in mail.
Size Matters – The dimensions of your mail piece can determine its treatment by the Postal Service. A mail piece that falls outside the dimensions will cost more to send. In some cases your mailing can even be rejected! Here are the standard dimensions for common mail categories:
FIRST CLASS POST CARDS: 3 ½” x 5” to 4 ¼” x 6” Thickness ranges from .007” to .016”
LETTERS: 3 ½” x 5” to 6 ⅛” x 11 ½” Thickness ranges from .007” to ¼”
FLATS: Must have one dimension greater than 6 ⅛” high OR 11 ½” long OR ¼” thick. May not be more than 12” high x 15” long x ¾” thick. Extra design restrictions apply to the Commercial Flats classification. Consult with your mail professional for advice before ordering materials. Postage rates for First Class flats vary according to the weight of the piece.
TIP: If you can design your parcel to mail as a flat your postage costs will be lower. Reconfiguring flats to fit letter dimensions, by folding pages in half for instance, will likewise lower postage charges.
Address Block – Placing the address in the wrong place, encroaching on reserved areas on the mail piece, or addresses that shift out of an envelope window can get your mailing into trouble. At the very least address block problems will result in a high volume of undeliverable or delayed mail. Here are some guidelines:
LETTERS: Place the address on the face of the mail piece defined by the rectangle described below:
½” from the left edge
½” from the right edge
2 ¾” from the bottom edge (non-barcoded mail)
Up to 4” from the bottom edge when the address has a barcode
⅝” from the bottom edge
There are several acceptable address location variations for flats
ADDRESS FORMATS: The address must be printed in at least 10 point type. The USPS prefers san-serif fonts so characters don’t touch each other or overlap. They also prefer the address to be printed in all capital letters with one or two spaces between address elements.
Tip: Be sure to test mail pieces using the greatest number of address lines present in the data files to make sure the address prints within the designated space and shows through envelope windows. More than one mailer has had all their 5 and 6-line addresses returned as undeliverable because the line containing the city, state, and zip code were not visible.
If you’ve got postal savings or mailing questions, we’ve got experts who can answer them! Contact your EarthColor sales representative today or reach out to us online.