Mailing Design Rules to Follow
While every project has some restrictions for each client or media, designing mailers or envelopes have even more official guidelines to follow. By making sure your designs abide by official USPS rules, you can ensure your mailing pieces will be accepted and delivered successfully.
While there are several standard sizes allowed for postcards, they can't be smaller than 3.5" x 5". First class mail won't accept larger than 4.25" x 6", and standard mail won't accept larger than 6.125" x 11.5".
Return Addresses should be placed 1/4" from the top and left side. Mailing addresses have a broader range, (anywhere in the center), but no more than .5" from the left and right edges, and .75" from the bottom.
This is an important one! There really should not be any ink on the bottom of the mailing address side of the card (this goes for anything you are mailing) because this is where USPS puts their bar code. The actual rule is no more than 7% ink coverage (which is pretty light), because anything darker will make the bar code impossible to read by scanners. Bar codes are about 3.5" x .75", and on the lower right of the card or envelope.
While you can still have fun designing the back of the envelope (where it is sealed), the front has some guidelines that are important to follow to ensure your piece is mailed properly.
The return address should be around 1/4" from the top and side of the envelope. Where the stamp (or indica) will be placed is around 1" x 1", so be sure to leave a clear space.
The mailing address can't be higher than 2.75" from the bottom of the envelope. This goes for postcards as well.
Again, there should not be any ink on the bottom of the envelope (or, no more than 7% opacity) to ensure the mailing bar code can be read easily. Bar codes are about 3.5" x .75", and on the lower right of the card or envelope.
Self Mailers (folded), Brochures or Newsletters
Self mailers should always be rectangular in shape, and can't be smaller than 3.5" x 5" or larger than 6" x 10.5" when folded.
Folded pieces are always processed length-wise into the postal machines. This means you should address your piece horizontally when it's folded (for example, if you have a 3.5 x 5" mailer, be sure the 5" edge is on the bottom when you address it).
The same guidelines for placement of return and mailing addresses apply. Return Addresses should be placed 1/4" from the top and left side. Mailing should be no more than .5" from the left and right edges, and .75" from the bottom. And leave space for the stamp of indica (1" x 1") in the upper right corner.
As with other mailers, there should not be any ink on the bottom of the envelope (or, no more than 7% opacity) to ensure the mailing bar code can be read easily.
Folded mailers require a seal to hold it closed during processing. This goes for half-folds, tri-folds, brochures, etc. For larger mailers, you should have two seals to ensure it's fully closed and won't get ripped in the postal machines. Because you'll be placing seals on these pieces, take into account how this affects your design. Do not put any important information where the seals will be placed.
Now that you have your official guidelines for mailing piece, design away!
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