Specifying Envelopes--Envelope Printing,
You're putting together a mailing,
and you need some envelopes. How do you decide what you
need, and how do you explain this to your printer?
Make sure your envelope is large
enough to comfortably contain everything you want it to
hold. More specifically, choose an envelope 1/2" longer
than the longest insert and ensure 1/4" clearance from
top to bottom. If you have multiple inserts, allow even
To meet postal regulations,
the length must be between 5" and 11.5" inclusive,
and the height must be between 3.5" and 6.125"
inclusive. The thickness must be between .007" and
Also, to meet postal regulations,
the length of the envelope must be 1.3 to 2.5 times its
Options abound. You can choose
bond, white wove (simple and inexpensive), translucent paper,
Kraft paper, Tyvek, and many other paper stocks. However,
you should also discuss this with the Post Office since
the contrast between the envelope stock and the printing
ink must meet certain standards to allow for optical character
recognition by USPS equipment.ent.
You can make envelopes out of numerous
paper stocks in many, many sizes. Your printer can obtain
standard stocks and sizes quickly and begin production.
However, an unstocked item that must be created will take
longer to acquire and will cost more to produce. Envelope
manufacturers and printers can provide charts showing common
sizes. Make this decision early to ensure that you don't
compromise your schedule. "Making items" can take
a long time to make.
PRINT ENVELOPES vs. CONVERT ENVELOPES
This is related to the last suggestion.
If you want to print an address and logo on your envelope,
or perhaps business reply information, then printing directly
on the envelope should be fine. However, if you will be
printing a halftone or solid across an envelope seam, or
if you will be printing a full-bleed photo across the back
of the envelope, for instance, you will need to print on
a flat sheet and then convert it into an envelope. Again,
this takes time.
These include center, side, or
diagonal seams. Some envelopes have one kind, some have
another. As noted above, ink printed across the seam will
Three options include:ude:
- self-adhering (you peel off the protective sheet and close the flap;
no moisture is needed)
- re-moistenable (you
wet the flap and then close it) and
- latex seal
(both the flap and the back of the envelope have a strip
of latex; when they touch, a seal is created; no moisture
In addition, mechanical closures such
as button-and-string and clasp are available.
If you will address the envelope, choose a "regular"
envelope. It has no window. If you want an insert to carry
the address (which avoids matching addresses on envelopes
to addresses on inserts), choose a window envelope. Window
options include cello, poly, and glassine--and completely
open, with no covering. Consult the Post Office early regarding
the size and placement of the window as well as what can
appear through it.
Your wonderfully conceptualized and artfully produced mailing
package can stop dead in its tracks at the US Post Office
if anything is outside USPS specifications. That includes
(as mentioned above) size, aspect ratio, thickness, contrast
between envelope paper and ink, information showing through
the window, and any and all address information, teaser
information, etc., printed anywhere on the envelope. pe.
Do yourself a favor. Show everything
to the Post Office before you print. Postalr eps will show
you how to produce a mailable (and even automatable) envelope
with no surcharges and even with some discounts, if you
follow all their suggestions.
Don't assume that if you have 1,100 names on your mailing
list, you only need 1,100 envelopes and 1,100 enclosures.
All pieces of equipment in the lettershop and pressroom
will spoil a certain percentage of the printed items they
process. A good rule of thumb is to request 2 to 3 percent
more copies than you think you will need (more for shorter
runs). However, you should discuss this with your mail house.
It's always cheaper to throw away 200 envelopes than to
go back and reprint 200 envelopes.pes.
This is just a starting point. Books
can be -- and probably have been -- written on this subject.
Talk with your printer, your mail house, and the Post Office.
And remember to construct mock-ups of your mail package.
Problems that might go unnoticed otherwise will come to
light when you have a mock-up of the envelope with a complete
set of enclosures as well as an actual window through which
the address on the folded enclosure must be visible.
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]