Join Trish Witkowski for an in-depth discussion in this video Guidelines for cards and postcards, part of Print Production: Direct Mail.
- Card-format mail is common, practical, and cost-effective. If you're new to mail, or if you're prospecting for new customers, it's a great place to start. Cards can fall into one of three mail categories based on size, a postcard, a letter, or a flat. Most people call any two-sided card-format mail piece a postcard, but that's actually not the case. A USPS postcard has very specific dimensional and thickness requirements. Anything outside of those requirements is not a postcard. And by the way, in the mailing industry, a large card mailer that exceeds letter-sizing specifications is called a billboard.
(laughs) Okay, maybe not that kind of billboard, but you get the idea. The length, or horizontal measurement of a postcard, can be no shorter than 5 inches and no longer than 6 inches to qualify. The height must be between 3.5 inches and 4.25 inches. If you come in even a hair below the minimum size in either dimension, your mail piece is not mailable at all. You would need to put it in an envelope, or change the size and reprint it if you want to send it without an envelope, so beware of the minimums on postcards. There is also a thickness requirement for postcards.
The minimum is 0.007 inch, and the maximum is 0.016 inch. This is because thin paper gets torn up in the mail processing machines. Heavier is better for a postcard, it not only stands up to the wear and tear of processing and delivery, it also has greater presence in the mail. Confused? Don't worry, your printer can help you choose the right sheet. Corners should be square, but if you want a rounded corner, it can't be more than an eighth of an inch in radius. Your postcard must also have an aspect ratio of between 1.3 and 2.5 to maintain machinability.
If you're unfamiliar with the aspect ratio proportion requirement, watch the "Aspect Ratio" movie in Chapter 2 of this course. Here's a list of some of the most common sizes for postcards, they range anywhere from 3.5 by 5 all the way to 4.25 by 6. If you want to send larger card mail, sized as letters or flats, follow the size and thickness guidelines for letter mail and flats, also in this chapter.
- Choosing the right mail format, printing method, and postage
- Engagement strategies to increase open rate and response
- The rules of envelope mail, reply mail, and folded mail
- The components of a mailpiece
- Mail-design tips
- Identifying and preventing the most common and costly mail errors
- Presorting and other postal-optimization strategies