Posts Tagged Envelope

USPS | The Mail Eater

The Mail Eater

mail eaterYou’ve done it. You and your team have formed an alliance of the best of data, design and technology and brought forth the perfect mailpiece, a scintillating message that will bring you the ROI of your dreams. It is ready for launch.

Beware! Between home port and the final destination, a fearsome danger lurks: The Mail Eater.

It will shred your envelopes, mangle your budget and sink your dreams. But do not despair, there is something you can do to defend yourself.  The Mail Eater is nothing more than the machinery the USPS uses to process mail in a swift and cost-effective manner. Properly prepared, your mailpieces will sail through unscathed. But the unwary will fall prey to being macerated, rejected or slapped with the higher cost of manual processing.

Here are three of the riddles you must answer to get past the Mail Eater’s gaping jaws:

  1. What is your Aspect Ratio?
    • Take the length of the mailpiece and divide it by the height. If the answer is between 1.3 and 2.5, take heart, your message’s journey will be blessed. If not, it will meet its doom.
  2. What is your mail piece thickness?
    • Letters must be a minimum of .007 thick, or 0.009 inch thick if more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long or both. Thin paper makes poor armor against the speed and impact of the postal machines’ maw.
  3. What are your barcode reflectance properties?
    • What do you mean—background reflectance, print reflectance difference or opacity? The automation machines must be able to distinguish the printed barcode from any background designs or print showing through the material of the envelope. It is essential to refer to the USPS DMM code 708.4.4 to combat these issues.

It may seem daunting, but be brave! These answers and more are found in the USPS Quick Service Guide at  Congratulations, you have now equipped your message to face and conquer the threat of physical damage and increased mailing costs. Good luck, and may the post be with you!

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How Secure Is Your Mail?

How Secure Is Your Mail?

securemailIn this day of heightened security awareness, how secure is your mail?

Not only the piece of paper in an envelope, but what about your data?


Let’s take it from the top:
Is your data transmitted to your printer in a secure transmission? Do you know that it was securely received and when? Do you know that what you transmitted is what was received?

What about the printed piece? Is the print facility secure? Is it video monitored? Is visitor access restricted? Are data servers and processing centers secured and with limited access?

Once printed, are steps taken to ensure that there is no “double feeding” of documents into a single envelope? Is there a process to track an individual mail piece from beginning to end? Is there record that all printed pieces are accounted for and inserted to an envelope?

What happens once this piece of paper is printed, folded, and inserted? Is your mail retrieved by the USPS? If so, is that USPS truck sealed – meaning only authorized USPS employees may remove that mail from the truck?

Just a few questions to ponder – and perhaps to ask of your print and/or mail provider before your next mailing.

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The Triumphant Return of Mr. ZIP | 50 Years

How Much Do You Think About ZIP Codes?

logo1It’s just a string of numbers you add to your letters, cards and packages, right?

There is a whole history, and a pretty cute character, that helped educate your parents and grand parents on how to use these codes and improve mail service.

In July 1963, the postal service implemented the Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP code as it is commonly called.  The ZIP code is comprised of 5 digits specific to an area.  These codes assist in routing mail efficiently for the USPS.

Predicting that the public would be less than enthusiastic about memorizing not only their ZIP code, but those of family and friends, the USPS introduced Mr. ZIP in late 1962.

Mr. ZIP appeared on buttons, signs, magazines, and even the edges of a sheet of stamps. The point was to educate the public and ingrain the use of ZIP codes to all mailers.  Including a ZIP code promised “space-age speed”.

50 years later and Mr. ZIP stands as one of the most successful ad icons of all time.  The USPS notes that by 1967, 80% of all Americans recognized him and knew what he stood for.

Mr. ZIP was retired in 1986, but with the 50 year anniversary in 2013, you can expect to see him popping up all over the place.  He even has his own page on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum websitemr_zip_650x300_a01_101201_e

This simple doodle was able to move the general public into participating in the Zone Improvement Plan – which increased efficiency and speed for the USPS for generations to come.

Please enjoy this video from the mid-1960’s starring our friend, Mr. ZIP!

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Business Reply Mail: Creating IMb Artwork

Creating IMb Artwork For Your Business Reply Mail

Help!  I need to create Business Reply mail artwork to include the Intelligent Mail barcode!

If you have not yet created a Mailer ID, please follow steps 1 – 10 below. If you have an MID, start at step 11.

  1. Go to  The link to the Business Customer Gateway is in the lower right corner.  This link will take you to the log in page.
  2. An existing user may “Sign In” with their username and password.  New users should click “Sign Up”.
  3. On the Create Your USPS Business Account screen, make sure account type shows as Business, create a Username and Password, select a Security Question (you will setup two security questions and answers), complete all of the Name and Contact Info at the screen below, then click Create Account.
  4. You will be redirected to Select a Business Service screen.
  5. Under “Design and Prepare” choose Mailer ID.
  6. Click on the small box next to your company name.  Click Next.
  7. Review the company information and click Confirm.
  8. New users will have to go through the Business Service Administrator process, click to confirm your agreement with the USPS Online Agreement.
  9. Select and put a check mark next to your company name and click Yes.
  10. On the Business Service Administrator Access screen, click continue.
  11. You will need to go back to the main screen of the Business Customer Gateway and login with your Username and Password.
  12. Once you have logged in, choose “Intelligent Mail Services” beneath Design and Prepare
  13. On the next screen choose “Automated Business Reply Mail”.
  14. Select your reply mail type (Courtesy reply if the recipient is required to put a stamp on it, Business Reply if you are paying the postage in advance)
  15. Choose “Profile Registered Address”.  Click continue
  16. Enter your delivery address (you will need to know your ZIP+4).  Click continue.
  17. On the next screen, your Mailer ID number should be prepopulated.
  18. Some design elements come into play.  You will be asked to choose a name for your mailpiece, choose a font from a drop down menu, etc.
  19. Next you will enter your return address
  20. You can upload a logo if so desired
  21. Click continue
  22. The following screen will provide you a proof of your new envelope.  Please review it carefully.
  23. Click continue and you will now be able to download your new Business Reply Mail artwork.  This art will include the mandatory Intelligent Mail barcode.  It is now ready to submit to your envelope provider!

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