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Mailpiece Design Quick Reference

The links below are provided as a quick resource of envelope design considerations. The information provided has been taken from the USPS web site. If you are designing your own mailing components we recommend your visiting the USPS site and reviewing current guidelines as they may apply to your application and use. Those links are provided.

Outgoing Lettersize Envelope

Business Reply Mail (BRM) Business Reply Envelope "BRE"

Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) Courtesy Reply Envelope "CRE"

Outgoing Lettersize Envelope
Shown below are basic design guidelines. More detailed information may be found at: http://pe.usps.gov/mpdesign/mpdfr_addl_all.htm
Shows the OCR read area for letter-size mail.


OCR Read Area

On a letter-size piece, the recommended address placement is within the optical character reader (OCR) read area, which is a space on the address side of the mailpiece defined by these boundaries:
a. Left: 1/2 inch from the left edge of the piece.
b. Right: 1/2 inch from the right edge of the piece.
c. Top: 2-3/4 inches from the bottom edge of the piece.
d. Bottom: 5/8 inch from the bottom edge of the piece.

Clear Space

A clear space must be available on all mail for the address, postage (permit imprint, postage stamp, or meter stamp), postmarks, and postal endorsements.

Return Address

The return address tells the USPS where the sender of a mailpiece wants it returned if the piece cannot be delivered. The return address contains elements corresponding to those for the delivery address. Although the sender’s name is required in the return address in only specific circumstances (under 4.3), if the sender’s name is not included in the return address, another clear designation (apartment, suite, or room number) is required to ensure proper handling of ancillary services and/or return of the piece.
Ancillary Services
The USPS uses the return address to provide ancillary services requested by the mailer (e.g., “Return Service Requested”). The return address on any mailpiece endorsed for an ancillary service must identify where the piece is to be returned and where the mailer is prepared to pay applicable postage and fees for pieces returned or for ancillary service provided at the mailer’s request. A domestic return address must be placed in the upper left corner of the address side of the piece or the upper left corner of the addressing area.
Required Use (Except as provided in 4.1, the sender’s domestic return address must appear legibly on):
a. Mail of any class, when its return and/or an address correction service is requested.
b. Official mail.
c. Mail paid with precanceled stamps.
d. Matter bearing a company permit imprint.
e. Priority Mail.
f. Periodicals in envelopes or wrappers.
g. Package Services (except unendorsed Bound Printed Matter).
h. Registered mail.
i. Insured mail.
j. Collect on delivery (COD) mail.
k. Certified mail if a return receipt is requested.
l. Express Mail if a return receipt is requested. The return address on the Express Mail label meets this standard.

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Business Reply Mail (BRM)
Shown below are basic design guidelines. More detailed information may be found at:

Business Reply Mail (BRM) allows a mailer to distribute preprinted First-Class Mail reply pieces to customers. The mailer, not the customer, pays the return postage. The mailer does not prepay postage on BRM pieces. The Postal Service collects postage only on pieces that the customers actually send back to the mailer. This allows mailers to save postage costs on large volumes of distributed reply pieces when a response is not assured.

> BRM is appropriate when your customer needs a little extra inducement to reply — in other words, the response or its timing is not certain. This type of reply mail is frequently used by direct marketers seeking to encourage orders, researchers needing survey responses, or magazine publishers soliciting subscriptions.

> The extra inducement is provided by the fact that your customer does not pay the return postage, does not have to supply a postcard or envelope, and does not need to put an address on the mailpiece.

Business Reply Mail is subject to strict standards for format, markings, and addressing. The templates provided at this web site will allow you to produce BRM that meet all the Postal Service’s standards. For a complete description of BRM format elements


This graphic shows Business Reply Mail standards as described in the text.

More about BRE Design Layout

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Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM)
Shown below are basic design guidelines. More detailed information may be found at:

Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) requires your customer (the respondent) to pay the postage before mailing the reply back to you (the sender). CRM is appropriate when the response is more or less assured, such as for billing.

Although the customer usually pays the return postage (unless you prepay it by a meter, as in meter reply mail), the pre-addressed postcard or envelope adds convenience and ensures addressing accuracy.

The USPS requires no fees or prior authorization to distribute CRM.

This graphic describes Courtesy Reply Mail standards as described in the text.

More about CRE Design Layout

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