Mail Design

Mail Advice to get you going

Below are some basic postal regulations to assist you in designing your mail piece and deciding which method of mailing might work best for you.

Basic Postal Regulations

Some General Design Tips for All Mailings

  • Be sure the postal indicia (permit) contains the correct information and is updated.
  • Always make sure to leave enough room (3 ¾" x 1 ½") for the address block/barcode.
  • Make sure the return address (if there is one) is clear and separate from the outgoing address.
  • If non-profit, make sure return address matches the information on record at the USPS.
  • Use caution in how you orient the address block. "Taller" pieces are more expensive than "wider" pieces.
  • Email Cornerstone a proof of your piece and we will examine it for FREE!

Size Limits on Common Categories of Mail Pieces

Postcards – minimum of 3 ½" h x 5" w x .007" thick; maximum of 4 ¼" h x 6" w x ¼" thick. Aspect ratio must be between 1.3 and 2.5 (piece cannot be "too skinny" or "too close to square").

Letters – minimum of 3 ½" h x 5" w x .009" thick; maximum of 6 1/8" h x 11 ½" w x ¼" thick. Aspect ratio rule applies. Side parallel to address block is considered width of mail piece.

Large Envelopes – minimum of 11 ½" w x 6 1/8" h x ¼" thick; maximum of 12" h x 15" w x ¾" thick. Must meet even-thickness/flexibility requirements or piece becomes "non-flat machinable".

How to Design Automated Mailpieces for Best Possible Rates

Postcards – Allow enough room for the address and barcode to be printed on the piece with enough white space around barcode. – A clear area 3 ¾" x 1 ½" is sufficient. – Do NOT print a vertical line to divide the address-side between promotional copy and address block; this limits flexibility of Cornerstone to print the barcode in the addressing area.

Letters – If using a window envelope, be sure the bottom edge of the window is 5/8" from the bottom of the envelope and make sure there is a covering (poly, cellophane, etc.) in the window. If your mail piece is a bound piece (saddle-stitched, etc.), make sure the stitching is along the bottom of the address panel; when designing catalogs or booklets, DO NOT orient the address panel to place the stitched edge along the top of the address panel. If your mail piece is a folded (not bound) self-mailer, it is best if tabs are placed on the top of the address panel; also, please make sure the paper is heavy enough to withstand postal equipment. Allow a 3 ¾" x 1 ½" clear area for Cornerstone to print the address/barcode. Please remember to leave room if there will be any teaser copy or other information to be printed near the address block.

Large Envelopes (Flats) – Remember the size requirements (see above) for flats. Also, make sure the piece is even thickness and is flexible enough to run through mailing equipment (avoid the much higher Non-Flat Machinable rates). If an aqueous or varnished piece, it helps if there is a "knock out" of about 4" wide x 1 ½" high where you want us to print the address/barcode. This is not required, but gives more flexibility regarding on what type of inkjet we can process your piece.

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