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General Design Tips

Size & Shape

If you want to get the best postage rate then no fancy size or shape designed mailing pieces. There is a ratio that the post office uses to decide if a piece is even mailable. If you are going with an unusual size or shape, always check with your mail house or the post office to see if it can be mailed. Some pieces are not mailable and others may incur a surcharge.

Address / Barcode Clear Area

For letters and postcards, the easiest design is to leave the area clear 4” from the right side and 2” from the bottom. Leave this corner area for addressing and the barcode. This is the easy way but if you want to have printing in this area then be sure to leave a 4” x 2” clear area and make sure it conforms to USPS regulations for the address.

Design Flats (large size mailers)

For flats, the rules have changed and can be confusing. In short, the post office would like the address and permit placed at the upper half of the mailer. This is really important because if it’s not addressed in the proper area then they are allowed to charge first class postage rates.

Return Address Placement

If you choose to have a return addresses on your direct mail piece, make sure that it is placed above your send to address area. Return addresses placed below the “mail to” address, may result in your total mailing being mailed back to you. It doesn’t happen very often but why take a chance.

Self Mailers / Folded Mailers

If you have a folded piece, if at all possible design it so that the final fold is at the bottom and the opening at the top. This way you only need to place one tab on your mail piece.

Envelope Flaps & Clearance

Flap design is important. If you are using envelopes with inserts for your direct mail campaign then the design of the flaps is very important in order to keep costs down. If keeping cost down is your priority than you need to use commercial style flaps instead of square flaps in order for your inserts to be machine inserted. If you choose to use the square style flap then the inserts will need to be manually inserted which is much more expensive.

Clearance is also very important. If the inserts fit too snugly into an envelope then they will also need to be manually inserted. Leaving a ¼” clearance on each side or ½” total will make it more likely that your pieces can be machine inserted.

Large Envelopes. should be Booklet envelopes so that the flap is on the long side for easier insertion. Catalog envelopes have the flap on the short side which makes it more difficult to insert your pieces and will raise your cost.

Keep checking back for more Direct Mail tips as they are added!