Outgoing Envelope |
When designing the copy for the outgoing package
and the response piece, there are guidelines set up by the United States Postal
Service that need to be followed to receive automated rates on postage. There
are specific guidelines set up for the return address area, the delivery address
area, the bar code zone and the postage area. Shown below are the basic guidelines
that you should be aware of when designing your copy for the mailing pieces.
The basic guidelines that apply to the outgoing
envelope also pertain to other types of delivery packaging, such as boxes, tubes
and polybags. The guidelines should be followed for the address label used on
the package if the address is not imaged directly on the package.
Return Address Area
The information in the return address area tells
the postal service where a mail piece should be sent if it cannot
be delivered. It is generally located on the front, in the upper left-hand
corner of the mail piece. When it is placed on the front, it cannot
extend from the left edge more than half the length of the mail piece
and cannot extend down from the top more than one third the height
of the piece.
Be sure to use a return address that clearly states
the address where the item is to be returned and so that ancillary
services can be handled properly. Guidelines for what elements
need to be included in the return address are the same as for the
delivery address, see below. If
mail is to be processed as upgradeable mail,
the return address must not be in the OCR read area.
For more information on the return
see Postal Regulations
- Outgoing Mail.
Address correction, forwarding and return services performed by
the USPS when mail is undeliverable to the delivery address
on the mail piece.
Upgradeable mail is First Class Mail and Standard Mail (A) that
meets OCR requirements so that it can be processed on a multiline
optical character reader to have a bar code applied.
Delivery Address Area
The delivery address area is where
the delivery address is printed, instructing the USPS as to where
the mail piece is to be delivered. It must appear on the same side
of the mail piece as the postage appears. The address should be placed
OCR read area of the mail piece. Printing that is non-address
copy should be kept out of this area whenever possible. Other printing
in the OCR read area may interfere with the OCR reading of the delivery
address. If non-address copy must be printed in this area, the lowest
point of the copy must be above the delivery address line of the address.
address must include the following information:
- Name of destination or recipient's name
- Complete delivery address
- City and state
- ZIP code or ZIP+4 code if required for the destination area
Mail pieces with a dual address will be delivered
to the address immediately above the city and state. If the street
address and post office box are on the same line, it will be delivered
to the post office box. ZIP+4 and ZIP +5 codes must correspond to
the address immediately above the city and state or post office box
if both elements are on the same line. These guidelines apply to the
return address also. For guidelines on alternative address formats,
Complete Delivery Address
An address that consists of all applicable components,
including street name and number, post office box number,
rural or highway route number and suite, apartment or floor
An address that includes both the street address and post
office box number.
The standard guidelines shown below should be followed
when setting address copy that will be processed as upgradable mail.
This will allow the address to be read by the multiline optical character
reader, which will apply the POSTNET bar code.
- Use a type style that is easy to read.
- Use uppercase characters.
- Set all address lines flush left.
- For state designation, use two letter abbreviations.
- Insert one space between city and state, two spaces between state
and ZIP code.
Standard Address Abbreviations
The type style used for the addressee information
should be selected from the OCR Readable Type Styles that have been
approved. The chart below lists the type styles that have been tested
and approved by the USPS for optical character readers. The type styles
at the right have not been tested but are similar styles, considered
equivalent to the approved styles.
Century Light Schoolbook
Newtext Regular Condensed
Airport, Alphatura, Contempra, Future, Photura, Sparta,
Stylon, Techica, Techno, Tempo, Twentieth Century, Vogue
Aquarius, Corona, Crown, Koronna, News No. 3, News No. 5, News No.
6, Nimbus Royal
Athena, Chelmsford, Musica, October, Omega, Optimist,
Oracle, Roma, Theme, Zenith
Alexandria, Beton, Cairo, Karnak, Memphis, Pyramid,
Galaxy, Kosmos, Versatile
For more information on OCR guidelines and the
delivery address area for your mail piece,
see Postal Regulations
- Outgoing Mail.
There are several options for payment of postage.
You can apply postage by using stamps, precancelled stamps, postage
meters or a permit imprint (indicia). The permit imprint is the most
popular form of postage payment applied to mail pieces for direct
mail but most mail houses also have the capability of applying postage
with stamps or postage meters.
To be able to use a permit imprint,
you have to apply for a permit number from the USPS. Mailings using
the permit number must consists of at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds.
The content of the imprint must meet postal guidelines. It must be
printed using a type style and ink color that is easily read. Listed
below are the standard format guidelines that should be followed when
using a permit imprint.
- Must be located in the upper right hand corner of the delivery
address side of the mail piece or address piece.
- The imprint content must be in a clear area that is at least 1/2"
wide and 1/2" high.
- It must be no more than 1 1/2" down from the top edge of
the mail piece or the address piece. The left edge of the imprint
must be no more than 1 1/2" from the right edge.
- There must not be any other copy between the imprint and the right
- Copy must run parallel to the delivery address copy.
- The type must be a minimum of 4 point type.
- A border around the imprint is not necessary as long as content
is an approved postal imprint.
When developing the content for the imprint, you
must follow the postal guidelines set up for the different classes
of mail. See the guidelines below for First Class, Priority and Standard
First Class and Priority Mail
- Imprint must show "First Class," "Priority Mail"
or "Priority," whichever is applicable, the city and state,
"U.S. Postage Paid," and the permit number.
- Optional information:
- Amount of postage
- Number of ounces of postage paid
- Mailing date
- ZIP code
- Rate Markings
- City and state can be eliminated if the "Mailed from ZIP
Code" endorsement is used instead, followed by the 5-digit
ZIP code that is assigned to the mailing post office.
- Imprint must contain the same information as the First Class and
- "First Class," "Priority Mail," or "Priority"
and the date must be eliminated.
For more details on postage design, www.usps.gov.
The response piece can be one of three different
types of reply mail. The difference between them is the way in which the postage
Business Reply Mail (BRM) - The response
is returned by First Class Mail and postage is paid by the mailer.
The mailer pays postage for only the responses that are returned.
Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) - The postage is
paid by the respondent.
Meter Reply Mail (MRM) - The postage is prepaid
by the mailer by the use of a Meter Stamp.
All three options make it more convenient for
the recipient to respond. They make mail processing and delivery faster, eliminate
errors and encourages recipients to respond sooner.
The BRM is the most widely used option in
direct mail packages. Shown below are some of the basic guidelines
that should be followed when designing your BRM.
Return Address Area
On the BRM, the return address area is the Permit
holder's area. It may contain an area for a return address to be enter,
logos, form numbers, codes or other information the permit holder
feels is necessary. The information must stay out of the restricted
areas surrounding it.
Delivery Address Area
The delivery address area on the BRM is the area
that contains the permit holder's complete name and delivery address.
The address must include the permit holder's company name, street
address and/or post office box, city, state and ZIP code. A company
logo can be placed in the address block as long as it is at least
5/8" up from the bottom edge of the mail piece and does not fall
within the bar code clear zone.
The postage endorsement imprint is located in the
upper right hand corner and must not extend more than 1 3/4"
from the right edge. The endorsement should read "NO POSTAGE
NECESSARY IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES".
Bar Code Area
The bar code is located in the lower right hand
corner of the mail piece. It must fall within the bar
code clear zone unless the bar code is in the address block
of a window envelope or on a printed address label. A delivery point
bar code cannot be used. It must be the ZIP+4 bar code assigned to
the permit holder by the USPS. Prebarcoding of the BRM piece is optional
except for in automation rate mailings of letter-size BRM and for
QBRM (Qualified Business
QBRM is business reply mail
that meets special design requirements which allows the BRM
to be eligible for the lowest per piece rate available.
Business Reply Legend Box
The legend box is located above the delivery address
block. It must contain the words "BUSINESS REPLY MAIL" and
below that the words "FIRST-CLASS MAIL PERMIT NO." followed
by the permit number and the city and state of the issuing post office.
All copy in the legend box must be in uppercase letters. Also, in
uppercase letters, under the legend box is the statement "POSTAGE
WILL BE PAID BY ADDRESSEE".
Identification Mark (FIM) is required on BRM letter-size mail
and postcards. There are two different FIM patterns. FIM B is used
on mail pieces without bar codes. FIM C is used on mail pieces that
have a bar code. It is located to the left of the postage endorsement
indicia. The FIM Clear Zone is 1 1/4" x 5/8" and begins
1 3/4" from the right edge. The top of the FIM bars must be within
1/8" of the top edge.
These bars are located directly below the postage
endorsement indicia and must run parallel with the length of the mail
piece. They must be at least 1" long and 1/16" to 3/16"
thick. The bottom bar must not extend down below the delivery address
line. There must be even space between bars. The bars are used to
indicate that the mail piece is a BRM.
For more details on setting up your copy for a BRM,
see Postal Regulations
- Business Reply Mail. If you have any questions as to whether
or not your BRM meets all the postal guidelines, you can take a proof
to your local post office to have it approved.
The location of information on a CRM is
basically the same as a BRM. The CRM does not have the Business Reply Legend
Box or the Horizontal Bars. The content in the postage area just indicates that
it is the area for postage to be added, such as "PLACE STAMP HERE".
The location of information on a MRM is
basically the same as a BRM also. The MRM, like the CRM, does not have the Horizontal
Bars below the postage area. It does not have a Legend Box above the delivery
address but it has a Legend statement in uppercase letters, "NO POSTAGE
STAMP NECESSARY" with "POSTAGE HAS BEEN PREPAID BY" on the line
below. In the postage area, the MRM has a meter stamp instead of a postage endorsement
For more information on the requirements for
Reply Mail, see www.usps.gov.
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