We will add more definitions as time goes on. No question
is too dumb so don't be afraid to ask.
- Ancillary Endorsement:
- These are a few words added onto your mail piece that
will instruct the USPS how to treat your mail if the address
on your mail piece is no longer valid. The most common placement
is 2 lines below the return address. The choice of which
endorsement you use will decide how much you will be charged
for the additional handling and what is done with the mail
piece itself. The one we most often recommend is "Return
Service Requested" which will return the piece with the
reason for non-delivery and will also give you the new address
if it is available. You will be charged the appropriate
first class rate based on the characteristics of the piece.
Other endorsements will incur a weighted fee which is more than twice
the first class rate. Go
here for an explanation of the 4 choices.
- Aspect Ratio:
- Width divided by height. This number must be between 1.3
and 2.5 for automation compatible letter size mail and postcards.
- If something is to be automated, it means it must be machinable
and it must have a bar code applied. If it is machinable
it will include several characteristics including having
the proper aspect ratio. If a bar code can be applied (which
will not smear) and be readable by the USPS automation equipment
(don't use any dark papers) then your mail piece should
be okay. See our automation
checklist for help in designing for automation.
- Carrier Route:
- The actual route your postal carrier takes when delivering
mail. They can be small, below 200, and large, around 600.
Of course, some carriers have to work really hard and cover
more than one route. Knowing your own carrier route can
be helpful if you having anything to discuss with your local
- Consumer List:
- A mailing list with contact names (see occupant list below).
When ordering this type of list you can tailor the list
with several different criteria (income, home value, ages,
- DSCF (Destination Sectional Center Facility):
- This is where we take the majority of our client's mail
and it allows for the greatest entry discount (see work
sharing below) for most mail that will be delivered within
its servicing area. For St. Louis, that means any zip codes
starting with 620, 622, 630, 631 and 633.
- Entry Discount:
- A discount is given when mail is presented to one of
3 locations – a DDU, a DBMC or a DSCF.
DDU = destination delivery unit and this entry discount
is only given to carrier route sorted mail that is handled
by a particular unit. Think of this as your local post office
branch. This discount only applies to the flat processing category.
DSCF = destination section center facility is given to all
mail serviced by that center (by far the most often used
entry discount). In St. Louis this is the main post office
located at 18th and Market downtown – just across
the street from historic Union Station.
DBMC = destination bulk mail center. Covers a wider geographical
area but less often used.
- Inkjet Addressing:
- Using a high speed commercial inkjet machine, we can apply
addresses and other information at speeds over 20,000 per
hour. Try labeling that fast! Not all mailing pieces
will move as quick but it can be done with some.
- Letter Size:
- A mail piece whose dimensions are 6 1/8"
high and 11.5" wide and 1/4" thick (or less). Outside any of
these and you likely have a flat. Postage rates are higher
for flats so ideally you will keep your mailers within the letter
- NCOA Processing:
- Go here for a page all about this.
- Occupant List:
- A list of addresses only. There are no contact names with
this type of list.
- These technically are single piece mailers, at or under 4.25"
tall and 6" wide. They also need to be at least on
7pt. (.007 thick) stock. Larger than this, they may look
like a postcard but are really a letter (see above). This
size only matters however when mailing at first class rates.
At bulk mail rates, they mail the same as larger letter
size pieces (under 3.3 ounces however). Minimum size any piece
can be is 3.5" x 5".
- Precanceled stamps
- These are stamps applied that do not get cancelled by
the accepting post office or any other post office. The
advantages are the look of a stamp but the cost of discounted
postage. Also, using precanceled stamps can give the impression
the mail piece was sent from the location of the return
address. Have questions about this? Please call us.
- Tabbing (Tabs):
- Otherwise known as those round sticky things that close
a mail piece (also known as wafer seals).
- Walk Sequence (also know as Walk Sequence Saturation):
- This is a type of mailing based on carrier routes in a
zip code. The absolute lowest possible rate of any mailing
is a carrier route walk sequence saturation rate. This rate
currently ranges from 18.2 cents to 13.9 cents (depending
on the entry discount taken). For non-profits,
the rates range from 11.0 cents to 6.7 cents (the absolute
lowest of all rates). These rates are for the letter processing category.
There are others.
- Work Sharing Discount:
- This is what bulk mail rates are based on. A letter gets
dropped in a mailbox and a carrier needs to come pick it
up. The letter then makes its way to the local post office
where it goes into containers and gets a rough sort (local
and not local). At some point, the letter is transported
to a larger facility where it is mingled with mail received
from other parts of your area and letters from around the
country. Once mingled and sorted, it then goes back out
to the local post offices for delivery to your home. This
is a very simple version of events. When mail is presorted
and presented to a bulk mail acceptance unit you will receive
discounts for saving the USPS some of this work. They also
offer entry discounts for taking your mail to certain postal centers
rather than your local post office.