e-idea file




New Folding Requirements Now In Effect

For readers who send folded mail that is not in an envelope, review these new tabbing regulations from the USPS that took effect January 5th, 2013.

These are the most significant areas of impact for designers of direct mail pieces:

  • the location, size and required number of tabs
  • the weight of your mailer
  • paper thickness
  • fold orientation
  • staple inclusion

One of the most important changes: Tri-fold mailers must now have the address label on the middle panel and the folded edge along the bottom or right (leading) side.

2 Panels3 Panels4 Panels
Single sheet folded once in half (biifold)
One sheet folded twice (trifold)
Two nested sheets folded once in half

One sheet folded three times

One sheet quarter-folded; two folds perpendicular

These new rules apply to letter-sized pieces only that measure 6" x 10.5" or smaller when folded. A typical 8.5" x 5.5" mailer is subject to these new regulations. Here are a few things that will disqualify your mailer right away:

  • self-mailers with only one tab
  • tabs placed at the bottom of your mailer
  • perforated tabs
  • self-mailers with a gate-fold
  • paper that is too thin

Letter size bulk mail should now be designed so that it folds at the bottom and tabs at the top.

The minimum paper thickness is either 28# bond or 70# text weight paper. Self-mailers printed on paper thinner than this will no longer be accepted by the USPS.

If you're mailing a document that uses more than one sheet of paper such as a newsletter, the thickness requirement only applies to the outermost sheet of paper.

Letter-sized bulk mail pieces now require at least two, and in some cases three, tabs, Self-mailers with just one tab placed in the center will be rejected. Additionally, the location of the tabs are regulated. Tabs must be placed at the top or sides of the mailer. The edge of all tabs must be within 1" of the corner. If your mailer contains a stitch or staple, it is considered a booklet. All letter-sized booklets (anything with staples) now requires three tabs.

USPS equipment grabs your mail piece from the bottom right hand side, so they want the third tab to be on the bottom right hand side. As with the other tabs, the far edge of the tab needs to be within 1" of the edge. If you have several pages, and opt not to staple, you are limited to how many pages you can use based on how you fold your self-mailer:

  • unstapled, bi-folded mailers limited to (6) 8.5" x 11" sheets or (3) 11" x 17" sheets
  • unstapled, tri-folded mailers limited to (4) 8.5" x 11" sheets or (2) 11" x 17" sheets

For letter-sized, stapled self-mailers, your mail piece can weigh a maximum of 3 ounces and must be less than 0.25" thick. Remember, stapled mailers require a third tab placed 1" from the bottom right hand corner.

In terms of tabs, the same requirements apply for tri-folded, self-mailers, but the requirements are even more specific. The center panel must be used for printing the address, and the final fold must fold up in the back. Self-mailers must tab from the top, and tri-folded mailers must have their address printed in the center panel.

If your mail piece ways more than an ounce, you will be required to use tabs that measure at least 1.5" across.

These rules and regulations can be confusing. Rather than going to the Post Office with your questions, utilize our certified USPS specialists here at Visions, Inc.. They can answer most questions. If they can't, they can probably get a better, faster response from the USPS than you might be able to get on your own. Just contact your representative, and he or she can put you in touch with our mailing specialists!


return to e-idea file article list