Presentation on theme: "This is the mailpiece design tutorial for Automated First Class Card Mailers. This presentation will aid you in the design and layout of this specific."— Presentation transcript:
This is the mailpiece design tutorial for Automated First Class Card Mailers. This presentation will aid you in the design and layout of this specific type of mailpiece. For all other mailpieces, please visit the WSU Campus Post Office website at for additional tutorials. If you have downloaded this presentation to keep on your computer, please be sure to contact us at so that if mailing requirements change we can contact you with By using this tutorial to design your mailpiece, you agree to use all information here completely and correctly. Failing to do so may cause your mailing to be unusable.
A card mailer is defined as a mailpiece which is not in an envelope which is a single thickness of paper. No folding or sealing is allowed in a card mailer. First, we will look at the initial design of an automation-compatible card, including what the difference between a regular card and a Postcard. After we have finished, we will then look at some other options you have in designing your card for mailing. The first step in designing an automated card mailer is checking its size. According to the U.S. Post Office, cards have specific sizes, and while cards which exceed these sizes are mailable, the extra expense involved in mailing them may exceed any savings which result from automating your mailing. Here is a template which shows the basic minimum and maximum sizes for a Postcard:
In order to help show more about the sizing for a mailable card, a better visual template is available. The template is shown below, but while the scale is visible, for a completely accurate copy please contact the Campus Post Office. The templates are available free of charge but may be subject to occasional shortages in supply. The template is correctly used by aligning the cards lower left corner at the point indicated on the template here: Then, ensuring that the left and bottom edge are also aligned correctly along the left and bottom lines on the template, look where the upper right corner of your card falls. It must be larger than the minimum card size of 3 ½ by 5 inches and smaller than the maximum 4 ¼ by 6 inches in order to be considered a post card by the U.S. Post Office.
Lets look at the following examples using our template. To begin, we will look at a card that easily qualifies as a post card. The size of the card is shown by the red outline. Notice how the card is clearly larger than the minimum post card size but smaller than the maximum. This size of card would be eligible for the best postage rates and is very easily automated, making processing and delivery times minimal.
Next, we have a card that would qualify for normal First-Class rates but would not be considered a post card. As you can see, the card size is clearly larger than the maximum allowed for a post card. However, the upper right corner of the card does fall within the standard-size limits for First-Class mail (shown on the template in gray) and therefore would be mailable at a normal First-Class rate. This card would most likely be sent at the same postage rate as a letter.
Now a card has been placed on the template which is neither a post card nor meets the qualifications for standard First-Class mail. While the card is very close to being properly sized for a postcard, notice the top edge. It is too short! Even a small difference in the size of the card may disqualify it for the class of mail youre trying to use. While this card is mailable, it would require additional postage above what a normal letter would cost and at nearly twice the a post card rate, all because of a small fraction of an inch in difference in size.
Next, we will look at the layout of your card. Here is a standard-size postcard: In order to use an automation-compatible layout, we must have specific areas on the front of the card available for printing specific information. Below, we have added a space along the bottom edge of the card:
This field is referred to as the Barcode Clear Zone (BCZ). When we automate your mailing, this is where we will print a Delivery Point Barcode on the card. Here is a larger view of the BCZ, with the required measurements: In the picture you can see the lower right corner of your card with the dimensions of the BCZ shown. Looking at your card, measure 5/8 of an inch up along the right edge from the lower right corner, and 4 3/4 inches back along the bottom edge from the same corner. Using right angles to create a rectangle using these measurements, you have defined the BCZ on your card. You do not need to show the BCZ on your finished card, but when you design the card to use for your mailing, the BCZ must be clear of any printing or graphics. Nothing may appear in this space or the mailing will not qualify for automation.
Next, we will designate a location for the destination address. The address must be in a specific place so that the OCRs (Optical Code Readers) used by the U.S. Post Office can locate it successfully. Below, the sample card has a field added showing where the OCR read area is located.
The OCR Read Area, unlike the BCZ, is not defined by a standard size but by the size of the card itself. By measuring in a minimum of one half inch from each edge and a minimum of two and three fourths inches up from the bottom of the card, using right angles a space is defined which sits on top of the BCZ. If the card were of different dimensions (keep in mind that the dimensions must adhere to the previously discussed limits, of course) then the OCR Read Area would also have different dimensions. Besides the destination address, other design elements may be placed in the OCR Read Area. However, the entire destination address must be contained in the OCR Read Area. The Campus Post Office is able to print extra graphics, text, or design elements inside the OCR Read Area at the same time we address your mailing. For more information concerning this service, including additional costs, please contact us. Next, we will place a field on the card for a return address. Return addresses are required in sending mail from WSU. We are also able to print return addresses on your cards if they do not already have the correct return address pre-printed. The next screen shows the return address field added to our card.
As you can see, like the OCR Read Area, the size of the Return Address Area shown above depends on the size of the card. Larger or smaller cards would have differently sized Return Address Areas. None of the fields shown on the sample card above require you to show anything on the cards you give to us. In fact, it is much simpler to automate your mailing when these fields are clear of any printing.
In addition to the fields we have added to our card, we may also add an Ancillary Service Endorsement. This refers to instructions for the U.S. Post Office on the front of the card in case the card is not able to be delivered as addressed. You may have seen phrases on other mailpieces such as Address Service Requested or Return Service Requested. We are able to print Ancillary Service Endorsements on your cards when we automate them if you wish. The four locations where we may print them on the envelope are shown below. There is no additional cost for printing Ancillary Service Endorsements, and for First-Class mail there is no additional charge for using these services.
For First-Class envelopes, the Ancillary Service Endorsements are as follows: Address Service Requested –for Forwarding and Return of Mail Months 1 – 12: mailpiece forwarded Months 12 – 18: mailpiece returned with new address attached After 18 months or if undeliverable: mailpiece returned with reason for nondelivery attached Forwarded at no charge. Returned at no charge. Return Service Requested-for Return of Mail only, No Forwarding At any time: mailpiece returned with new address or reason for nondelivery attached No charge. Change Service Requested-No Forwarding or Return, but new address provided Separate notice of new address or reason for nondelivery provided, mailpiece disposed of by USPS No charge. Forwarding Service Requested-For Forwarding or Return. New address provided only with Return Service Months 1 – 12: mailpiece forwarded Months : mailpiece returned with new address attached After 18 months or if undeliverable: mailpiece returned with reason for nondelivery attached Forwarded at no charge. Returned at no charge. Temp-Return Service Requested-For Return Mailpiece returned with reason for nondelivery attached (unless temporary change of address, then mailpiece forwarded with no notice to mailer) No charge.
When producing cards for mailing, choice in paper is of great importance. First, the paper must be of a certain thickness (weight) in order to meet U.S. Post Office guidelines for mailability. Because the weight of paper (20 pound paper, for example) is based on the actual weight of 500 sheets of a given color, dimensions,and thickness, and because the actual thickness of a paper can vary depending on a variety of factors, not all paper of a given weight will necessarily have the same actual thickness despite being of the same weight. Therefore we cannot say that a certain weight of paper will always have a specific thickness for the purpose of mailability through the U.S. Post Office. We are attempting to maintain a list of approved paper weights and colors for the purpose of printing cards for mailing. This list can be found on the left navigation of the Mass Mailing section of our website. For cards, the required thickness of paper depends on the dimensions of the card you have designed. For actual Post Cards meeting the minimum and maximum limits in size, the minimum thickness of each card must be no less than inches thick. For cards of all other dimensions, the minimum thickness is no less than inches thick. If the source of your paper is not able to accurately provide you with the actual thickness of the paper stock you wish to print your cards on, the Campus Post Office has calibration equipment which will establish firmly whether your paper has the needed thickness.
Also, for automated mail, the paper you use for printing your cards must meet other requirements. The first of these is the color of the paper. Certain colors simply will not be automation compatible due to contrast issues in these colors. In these cases, the sorting machines used by the U.S. Post Office will not be able to distinguish the address or other printing on the card from the background color of the paper. This consideration is reflected in the list of approved papers on our website. Certain papers also have a fiber appearance which will prevent automation compatibility. These papers are normally easy to identify by the appearance of spots, flecks, or speckled designs. While visually pleasing, backgrounds which do not have a consistent color will also interfere with the optical sorting machines. The sorters will see the pattern of the paper as part of the printing on the card instead of the background and attempt to read it as part of the address. Both of the problems listed here can be illustrated by a test on a black- and-white copier. By photocopying a sheet of paper which is too dark in certain colors, the black-and-white image produced by the copier shows color which is too dark to adequately see the printing on the paper. Likewise, by photocopying a speckled or spotted paper, the background pattern becomes a black-and-white field which will be indistinguishable from the color of the printing on the paper. Because the sorting machines in use by the U.S. Post Office see only in black and white, this illustrates why certain appearances of paper make automation mail impossible.
Finally, in order for us to automate your mailing, we must be able to clearly and cleanly print on the cards you have provided us. As with all other aspects of automated mail, the U.S. Post Office has minimum standards for the clarity of the printing on each piece of the mailing. The paper you use to produce your cards must allow us to clearly print without smearing or smudging. Papers which have a slick or glossy finish will often cause the printing to be unclear. The Delivery Point Barcode printed in the BCZ will especially need to be as clear as possible because an automated mailing is initially sorted by using this barcode. If for any reason the printing on the front of the card is not clear, the mailing may fail inspection by the U.S. Post Office and additional postage (often greater in price than the savings produced by automating your mailing) will be charged in order to process and deliver manually. Using paper which allows the ink to be readily absorbed and quickly and cleanly dry will help to prevent this problem. Cards produced using colors, patterns, or finishes which may make them non-automation compatible may be eligible to send using normal First- Class mail or through manual bulk mail. Please see our tutorial for manual bulk mail cards or contact the Campus Post Office for more information.
This concludes our tutorial for First-Class Automated Standard Cards. Please remember to use all the information contained here correctly. If you have mailings which cannot be sent using the qualifications shown here, please browse our other tutorials or consult our staff to see if there is another class of mailing that better suits your needs. Also, please remember to schedule your automated mailings in advance using our website and to provide us with your mailing list in one of the compatible file formats listed in the left navigation of our Mass Mailings Section of our website. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us. Our campus phone is , our address is and we are located on the first floor of Morrison Hall on WSUs main campus. Our office hours are 7:30am through 4:30pm Monday through Friday except for all holidays observed by the University.