Pay Attention to Spec/Aspect Ratios to Save Money on Direct Mail

Our last tip touched briefly on the importance of designing mail so that it can be sent using the post offices’ automated equipment. Specifically, we talked about how important it is to design self-mailers so that they can be sealed at the top.

The reason? Mail that is “machinable” costs considerably less to send than mail that must be processed manually.

Folding/sealing is not the only thing that affects whether or not a piece of mail is machinable, however.

As described in the USPS Quick Service Guide 201, “Mailpieces are classified by shape and by the way they are prepared. These classifications are based on how efficiently mailpieces can be processed on Postal Service equipment. The Postal Service classifies letters and cards into one of three categories: machinable, nonmachinable, and automation.”

One of the additional things that impacts machinability is size.

For starters, letter sized mail cannot be square. All letter mail pieces must meet a certain spec ratio [length divided by height.] The length in this case is the dimension parallel to the address as it is read.

To qualify for automation:

  • The minimum spec ratio is 1.3
  • The maximum spec ratio is 2.5

If it doesn’t meet the spec ratio it becomes a non-machinable piece.

So, for example, if you have an 8.5” x 5.5” postcard, the spec ratio is 1.545 and falls within the proper spec ratio and can be sent at the lower rate. If, on the other hand, you have a 5.5” x 5.5” postcard, you have a spec ratio of 1 and will need to pay a surcharge.

Fill out the form at the right to get in touch with an AMG representative today for more money-saving direct mail tips.

Eric Weisgarber

Eric Weisgarber is the founder and President of Allegiant Marketing Group, Inc. His calling is helping business professionals grow their gross profits, net profits, and cash-flow through through marketing services, systems implementation and consulting. His business calling is aligned with his life\’s purpose – developing people and serving the community through discipleship.


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