Spend Your Money Wisely – Affordable Printing, Part 2
Postal Rates, Envelopes & Packages
When planning a mailing, be it a postcard or a letter in an envelope, the phrase “Spend your money wisely” should ring out loud and clear. Spending your money wisely can mean picking the right size mailing to take advantage of the best postal rates. Letters or actually envelopes, can affect your mailing rates.
We talked about aspect ratio in our last article (length divided by width) for a mailing piece. This applies to envelopes as well as postcards (the aspect ratio still must fall between 1.3 and 2.5).
Standard envelopes: (A2, A6, A7, A8, A10, #9 6 1⁄4, 6 3/4 and #10) will fit into the USPS letter category without a problem. It is the specialty envelope that can create a problem. As an example, a square envelope will fail the aspect ratio test, so it will have a non-machinable surcharge. So watch the aspect ratio before you spec an envelope.
Colors: can create a problem as well. Remember the USPS uses an automated system to read addresses, if there isn’t enough contrast or too much black in the color of the envelope, it may fail a reflectance test and then be given a non-machinable surcharge. If you are not sure, get a sample and talk to us prior to designing your piece. We can send the envelope down to the USPS and they can test the color to make sure it is readable by the scanners.
Weight: With envelopes weight can be an issue. In order to qualify for the letter rate, it must weigh 1 ounce or less and have a maximum thickness of a quarter inch. Although paper is relatively light, it can reach a weight of 1 ounce quickly. If you aren’t sure, we can put together a dummy and weigh it for you. Although it won’t have the weight of the ink, it will give you a ballpark idea before you get too far into your project.
Scanner Read Area: The USPS has specifications on where you can print on an envelope and where you can’t. The 4.75 inch width and 2.75 height area (as measured from the bottom right corner of the front of the envelope) is a no graphics print zone.
If you do a lot of letter mailings, the USPS has a template with all of their rules and specifications imprinted on it. This is available for free, just go to your local post office and ask for them. Some of the smaller branches may not have them, but should be able to get them or direct you to where you can pick them up. They are a great help in laying out your envelopes and designs.
If you ever have any questions about what is acceptable and what is not, please do not hesitate to contact your salesperson.
About The Author
Craig Sheer is the owner of Sheer Print Solutions, located in New York City & Portchester, NY. We are the proven leader for affordable, high-quality Digital and Offset, and Large Format Printing in NYC. Sheer Printing Solutions is your single source for solutions to all your printing, binding, warehousing and fulfillment needs.