New Direct Mail Folding and Tabbing Requirements

New rules for Folded Self-Mailers (FSMs) and Tabbing become effective January 5, 2013.  Are you ready?

Yes, you read it right.  More changes from the post office.  This time they say the changes will reduce damaged mail pieces and keep the high-speed postal machinery from jamming and slowing processing.  Well, that sounds good!  There will be no grace period, so get with your graphic designers and pass on the new requirements.

What is a Folded Self-Mailer?  It is a mail piece comprised of panels created when a single sheet or multiple sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mailer.  It does not go in an envelope and is not bound in any way.  Any mailer that is bound in any way is a booklet and the new tabbing rules do not apply.  Mailers with discs have been reclassified and have different rules.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Folded Self-Mailers:

  1. Height maximum is now 6 inches (Minimum height is still 3 ½ inches).
  2. Length maximum is now 10 ½ inches (Minimum length is still 5 inches).
  3. Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.
  4. Final fold must be at the bottom of the mailer or on the leading edge (right side) of the mailer for oblong pieces.
  5. Limited to 12 total panels.
  6. Final folded panel creates the non-address side of the mailer as folded bottom to top or leading to trailing edge.  Address panel can no longer be on the very top panel.
  7. Mailers with 4 panels must be printed on 28 # bond stock (70 # book) minimum.

Here is a summary of the most important new rules for Tabbing:

  1. Perforated tabs are no longer accepted.
  2. Minimum size of tab is one inch in diameter.
  3. Minimum number of tabs is two.
  4. Placement of tabs is dependent upon the design of the mail piece.
  5. Tabs can no longer be placed on the bottom edge of the mail piece.
  6. 2 one-inch tabs may be used for mail pieces weighing one ounce or less.
  7. Mail pieces weighing over one ounce must use two 1 ½ inch tabs.

Have questions or concerns or need help with a tricky mail piece?  Give us a call and send us a copy of your artwork before you go to print and we’ll help make sure you have it right!

Call us at 800-881-2150… We’re here to Help!

Or here is our online request form

The Postal Service proposes to revise the Mailing Standards

The Postal Service proposes to revise the Mailing Standards of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual to provide standards for creating folded self-mailers (FSM) and other unenveloped mailpieces such as forms, statements, and official notices that will improve processing of these pieces on automated Postal processing equipment.

In this proposed rule, the Postal Service defines letter-sized FSM, provides detailed standards about the basic elements of all FSM letter-sized pieces, and introduces “panels” as a basic element for constructing FSMs. Additionally, optional creative elements that are currently found in FSM designs, but are not defined in the DMM, are added.

To improve the quality of FSMs, the USPS, in collaboration with the mailing industry, implemented a series of tests designed to identify the characteristics of FSMs that could be processed successfully on automated letter-sorting machines. Industry members, recommended through the Mailers Technical Advisory Council (MTAC), Postal Customer Councils (PCC) and the Business Service Network, were asked to provide sample mailpieces for testing. A wide array of mail owners, mail service providers, and vendors participated. The collaboration resulted in a better understanding of the capabilities and needs of the mailing community and enabled the Postal Service to align terms commonly used in the mailing industry with those in the proposed standards. Working together, the Postal Service attempted to strike a balance between innovation and mailpiece machinability.

The outcome of this collaboration is a streamlined framework of proposed standards that aligns with existing letter-mail standards, provides specific information, and clearly defines the characteristics of additional design elements for mailers who create FSM mailpieces. Folded self-mailer maximum dimensions and weights are now proposed to align with other unenveloped letter standards. The dimensions will better delineate envelope and over sized cards when compared to unenveloped-type mail. Improved standards that are clear and easy to understand will encourage consistency and level-set the playing field minimizing delays in production and will help the Postal Service to control costs.

Postal letter sorting equipment is capable of processing letters at the rate of 10 pieces per second. When prepared according to current standards and processed at that speed, some FSM designs have higher rates of damage and cause jams in letter sorting equipment that result in diverting those pieces to flat sorters or manual handling. Both alternate processes are time consuming and costly. This proposed rule provides standards for FSM and other unenveloped letter designs so those mailpieces can better withstand the rigors of letter automation processing.

To find out more about this proposal please download our PDF.

We also have a Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material PDF for your convenience.

We at CSG Direct are focused on quality and speed. We use our high quality staff (25 MQC certified by the USPS) to identify ways to save money through intelligent programs. High quality staff menas you have more high quality options. Direct mail is not an industry to cut quality on, especially if you want to save money! I have seen too many low cost vendors ruin entire campaigns because they offer low prices and miss all the most important steps (maximizing every step is important.)

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success. We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there. Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle!