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A.K.A. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Bulk Mail but Were Afraid to Ask

Mailforce, Inc. always strives to provide our customers with the most professional jobs that we can provide. However, there are many factors leading into the final product that are not always within our control - this would include: the design of the mail piece and US Postal regulations. We reccomend that all of our customers read the following and hope that you can find this useful for your next business mailing.

What is "bulk mail"?
"Bulk Mail" is actually a class of mail called Presort Standard and is one of the most common types of mail along with first class and non-profit. It allows for large mailings to go at a lower rate of postage, saving money for the sender. In order for your mailing to qualify for presort standard postage, there has to be more than 200 pieces total (or 50 lbs). Presort Standard does take longer, but it depends on where your mailing is going to. Outside of the state will take longer, but the closer your mailing is the less time it will take.

What is "tabbing"?
A tab is a wafer seal (a sticker) used to hold mail pieces closed along an open edge. This is used mostly on tri-fold mailers or self-mailers where a piece is folded over. The US Post Office does have requirements for mail pieces that require tabs. If you hold the mail piece so that the return address is in the upper left corner and the piece would open down (open end on top) then it requires one tab. If the opening is on the bottom, it requires two tabs. Although a piece can go with no tabs, it cannot go through the mail processing machines at the post office and doesn't get the automated rates (which are lower).

Barcodes? Can't I just do that myself?
By having a postnet barcode on your piece, you can qualify for the best (least expensive) postage rates offered - the barcode makes the piece easier to sort, and is generally preferred by the Post Office. There are some misconceptions about them though - unless the list has been encoded and has a CASS certificate form, the barcodes will not qualify you for lower postage. The barcode is made up from the numbers in the 9 digit zip code, a two digit delivery point, and a check digit - all of which needs to be up-to-date and certified. Fortunately, our mailing software can handle that for you, and save you money on your mailings. Another consideration with barcodes is having enough space on your mail piece for us to print it - we require 2.75 inches (3 inches is ideal) to print the barcode.

Should I talk to you before printing my mailer?
YES. There are many considerations when designing a mail piece and many guidelines regarding size, thickness, colors, and designs which can influence our ability to send your piece through the US Postal System. In most cases, these are requirements by the USPS, not us. However, there are also considerations such as paper, glossiness, and design that affect us as well. The best bet is to always either contact Mailforce or your local US Post Master before printing the mailer - it can avoid headaches in the near future!

What is the best way to get my mailing list to you?
The quickest way is to email your list (zipped). If at all possible, we prefer DBF (database/DBase IV) or Microsoft Excel files or delimited text files. If you have any questions at all about which file to send or how to send it, please contact us. However, you can also bring your file to us on a 3.5" floppy disk or a ZIP disk.

Some customers prefer labels as a means to put addresses on their mail pieces, and some pieces actually require it. Either way, there are several types of labels, the most common types are: 1up, 3up, and laser. The first two types (1up and 3up) are printed either 1 or 3 across and are separate from each other, printed on a dot matrix printer. Laser labels come in sheets and are printed on a laser or inkjet desk printer. Labels cost more than inkjetting the addresses onto the piece, however 1up and 3up are less than laser since they are easier to separate.

What about postage?
There are two ways to pay for postage - either through metering the piece or by printing the permit indicia onto the mail piece. Metering actually applies the postage to the piece (almost like a stamp) and you've probably seen it before - it's printed in red ink incorporating an eagle and the postage amount in the upper right hand corner. Permit indicia is a box in place of a stamp which tells the Post Office what class the piece is going at, who owns the permit (or the permit number), and where the permit is for. This also requires that a check be sent with the mailing for the postage to the specific Post Office where the permit is from. For example, if your permit is from Hampton, NH then your mail must be taken to the Hampton Post Office with a check made out to Postmaster Hampton.

What about a permit?
Mailforce, Inc. does hold a permit and it's use is included in processing charges - however it is a violation of federal law to use a postal permit unlawfully or without the permit holders permission. Please contact us before printing your piece if possible so that you can have the permit printed onto your piece before it gets to us. If not, we can print it on later. Again, before the job is mailed, a postage check is required to go with each job.

What about maximum and minimum sizes?
This one can cause many headaches and we highly reccomend checking with either us or your local Post Office before printing your piece. For every type of piece (postcard, letter, or flat) there is a maximum and minimum size - and in this case, a quarter of an inch can make a world of difference! The size and shape of your piece can change the rate of postage greatly, depending on which template it fits into. For odd shaped pieces, there are different surcharges that can be tacked on and raise your postage. Please contact us for more information or a more detailed explanation.

Questions? Comments? Something you'd like answered? You can either email your question to or you can visit the links page and contact the US Postal Service directly.

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