USPS | Paper | Direct Mail – All Working Together!

Selecting The Right Paper When Designing Direct Mail!

When designing your fabulous direct mail piece, have you ever just fallen head-over-heels in love with a particular paper only to find out that it doesn’t meet certain USPS requirements? Or, worse, that you will have to pay increased postage just to mail it?

Selecting the right paper can make all the difference in how your mail piece is perceived and how well it travels through the mailstream.

There are a plethora of papers out there to choose from. Work with your designer, printer and mail house to choose a stock to make the best impression with your mail. Each of these people should provide insight into why a paper works or doesn’t work and how to effectively produce your job.

You should be aware of light reflectivity – there needs to be enough of a difference between the ink and the paper for USPS MLOCR equipment to read the address and barcode. This means no dark stock. And stock with fibers throughout, including some recycled papers, can cause problems with reading address as well.

A big decision will be whether to use coated or uncoated paper. 

For images with lots of detail, a coated paper offers a sharp, clean look. Coated paper also makes color “pop”. Think about the end use of your printed piece.  If it needs to be addressed after printing, make sure that the coating will not interfere with high-speed inkjet printers used by your mail house. 

Uncoated papers have become increasingly popular. They can “feel” formal, or very contemporary. If you are hand signing a card, for example, you want to use an uncoated paper. Uncoated paper also scores and folds a little better than coated papers and some digital presses “prefer” uncoated stock.

A visit to the local paper supplier is always fun; you’ll be bowled over by the shear number of papers available. But make sure to get input from your printer and mail house before you get too attached to a stock that won’t convey your message well or, worse, won’t look great in your recipient’s mail box!

For further details visit USPS® paper regulations for direct mail.

What are your favorite papers and how do you think they enhance your mail piece or company image? Or just share your war stories on paper choices gone awry. We’d love to hear them.


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