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Glossary of Terms

We take great pride in making our clients feel confident about their jobs during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of what’s happening to your project, we’ve compiled a glossary of terms that we commonly use in our industry.

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T V Z

  • Address

    (1) The location to which the Postal Service is to deliver or return a mailpiece. It consists of certain elements such as recipient name, street name, and house number, and city, state, and ZIP code. (2) The portion of an envelope or parcel which shows the delivery location of the recipient of the mailpiece.

  • Advertising Mail

    A sales product or promotional message mailed directly to customers or prospective clients. Also known as direct mail.

  • Author's Alterations (AA's)

    Changes made after composition stage where customer is responsible for additional charges.

  • Automation Discount

    A postage reduction offered to mailers who barcode their letters and flats and meet addressing, readability, and other requirements for processing on automated equipment.

  • Automation-Compatible Mail

    Mail that meets postal specifications concerning design, size, machine readability, and characteristics so that it can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment.

  • Banker's Flap Envelope

    Also called wallet flap; the wallet flap has more rounded flap edges.

  • Barcode (BC)

    A series of vertical bars and spaces that represent a numeric designation such as a ZIP code or package identification code. The barcode facilitates automated processing by barcode readers and scanners.

  • Barcode Discount

    Available for certain types of mail that bear a specified type of barcode and meet minimum volume requirements.

  • Binder's Board

    A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.

  • Body

    The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders. Also: A term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer's ink.

  • Brochure

    A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

  • Bulk

    A term given to paper to describe its thickness relative to its weight.

  • Bulk Mail

    Mail that is generally rated for postage partly by weight and partly by the number of pieces in the mailing. A rate discount is given based on the mail preparation work done by the mailer and the place of mail deposit.

  • Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU)

    The area of a postal facility where mailers present mailings for acceptance that require postal verification, such as presorted and permit imprint mailings.

  • Carrier Route (CR)

    (1) The range of addresses assigned to one carrier for the delivery of mail. This can include city routes, rural routes, and highway contract routes. (2) A discounted postage rate available for all pieces to the same city route, rural route, highway contract route, post office box section, or general delivery unit.

  • Carrier Route Sortation

    The practice of sorting mail by carrier route to qualify for reduced postage rates. The term is a general descriptor of the available rates for this type of preparation, which include Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail, automation carrier route First-Class Mail, carrier route Periodicals, and carrier route Bound Printed Matter.

  • Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)

    Created by the U.S. Postal Service to ensure the accuracy of software programs used by service bureaus to check addresses and code mailings for delivery.

  • Computer Service Bureaus

    A company that will maintain lists for list owners. Services may include: updating the list, merge/purge, data overlays and preparing the list for mailing or rentals.

  • Consolidator

    A consolidator accepts mail for deposit within a particular type of delivery service. By grouping together mail from more than one company, consolidators are often able to obtain higher volume discounts than an independent mailer.

  • Copy

    Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos etc., to be used for the printing process.

  • Cutter

    Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions...can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books' top size (soft cover).

  • Data Entry

    The entering of names, addresses and other information into a data storage and retrieval system. Data can be entered via manual keying, electronic data transfer or by scanning.

  • Data Overlays

    The matching of two or more lists that contain the same names or addresses but where one list adds additional data such as demographics or geographics to the other.

  • Database

    A file that is maintained on a computer comprised of pertinent information such as a company's prospects or customers. The file can serve multiple applications and be manipulated for various purposes.

  • Delete

    An instruction given to remove an element from a layout.

  • Delivery Point Barcode (DPBC)

    A POSTNET barcode that represents the ZIP+code generally and the last two digits of the primary street address number (or post office box, etc.) and a correction digit. The DPBC allows automated sortation of mail to the carrier level in walk sequence.

  • Direct Mail

    Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted markets to help renew, maintain, or grow business.

  • Discount Mailing Services

    Services that allow mail to be sent at reduced rates, including First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services. Discount mailing services, also called bulk mail, direct mail, advertising mail, and presorted mail, usually involve higher volumes of mail and require sortation and special preparation.

  • Discount Rates

    Reduced postage rates offered to mailers in exchange for higher standards of mail preparation, sortation, and destination entry.

  • Drop Shipment

    Typically the movement of a mailer's product on private transportation from the point of production to a postal facility closer to the destination of those pieces.

  • Eligibility

    The qualification standards, such as content, shape, and preparation, that a mailpiece must meet for specific rates or discounts.

  • Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail

    Mailpieces weighing less than 16 ounces and prepared in the sequence delivered by the letter carrier.

  • First-Class Mail (FCM)

    A mailing service that includes all matter wholly or partly in handwriting or typewriting, all actual and personal correspondence, all bills and statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection.

  • Flat

    Flat-size mail exceeds at least one of the maximum dimensions for letter-size mail (11-1/2 inches long, 6-1/8 inches high, 1/4 inch thick) but does not exceed the maximum dimensions for flats (15 inches long, 12 inches high, 3/4 inch thick). Dimensions are different for automation rate flats. A flat may be unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped or enveloped.

  • Font

    The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.

  • Free-Standing Insert (FSI)

    A promotional piece that is loosely inserted into a newspaper or magazine.

  • Fulfillment

    All activities involved in the processing and servicing of mail, FAX and telephone orders.

  • Girth

    The measurement around the thickest part of a mailpiece.

  • Hairline register

    Printing registration that lies within the range of plus or minus one half row of dots. It is the thinnest of the standard printers' rules.

  • HIPAA

    Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, healthcare entities must take specific steps to protect the privacy and personally identifiable information of their patients, including names and diagnoses. The Act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights.

  • Housefile

    Commonly referred to as a "customer list," a housefile is a consolidated database containing each customer's name, address and summarized order information.

  • Indicia

    Imprinted designations on mailpieces that indicate postage payment (e.g., metered postage or permit imprint)

  • Insert

    A letter, card, or other item placed inside another mailpiece.

  • Labels

    Paper printed with a name and address that is affixed to a mailing piece and serves as the mailing address vehicle. Different types of labels include: peel-off or pressure-sensitive labels, gummed labels and paper (or Cheshire) labels.

  • Lettershop

    A company that will assemble and insert the various printed elements of a direct mail piece, label, sort, tag and deliver the mailings to the post office for mailing. The lettershop will provide the mailer with written proof of delivery to the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Letterspacing

    The addition of space between typeset letters.

  • List Broker

    A list specialist hired by a mailer to make the necessary arragements to use other companies' lists. Brokerage services usually include: research, list selections, recommendations and logistics so that the rented lists arrive at the proper time. The standard commission to a list broker is 20 percent.

  • List Cleaning

    The process of updating a list in order to remove any undeliverable addresses. Other cleaning activities could include removing duplicates, bad debts, names on the DMA Mail Preference Service, prison ZIP's, etc.

  • List Maintenance

    The ongoing process of keeping a mailing list up-to-date by adding, editing and deleting data.

  • Machinable

    The ability of a mailpiece to be sorted by mail processing equipment. (Compare with nonmachinable.)

  • Mail Class

    The classification of domestic mail according to content (e.g. personal correspondence, which must be mailed as First-Class Priority Mail or Express Mail).

  • Mail Preference Service (DMA MPS)

    The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) offers a service for individuals who want their names removed from mailing lists so they will stop receiving direct mail.

  • Mailing

    A group of mailpieces within the same mailing service and mail processing category that may be sorted together under the appropriate standards. Also, the action of depositing or presenting mail at a post office.

  • Mailing Process

    Steps followed to prepare, pay postage, and enter mail with the Postal Service. Each method of mailing has its own process.

  • Mailing Service

    Class of mail (that is, Express Mail, First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services). The classification of domestic mail is based mainly on content (such as personal correspondence versus printed advertising).

  • Mailpiece

    A single addressed card, letter, flat, or parcel.

  • Mailpiece Design Analyst

    Postal employees located in larger cities that specialize in helping customers with the design of their mailpieces.

  • Merge-Purge

    The process of combining two or more lists into one while, at the same time, identifying and removing any duplicates.

  • Metered Mail

    Any class of mail except Periodicals with postage printed by a Postal Service approved postage meter.

  • Midtone Dot

    Commonly taken as the area between highlight and shadow area of a subject's face in halftone image.

  • Minimum Size Standard

    The smallest dimensions allowable for all mailable matter. Except for keys and identification items, a mailpiece less than 1/4 inch thick must be rectangular and meet the minimum criteria listed below; otherwise, it is nonmailable and is returned to sender:
    ..At least 5 inches long
    ..At least 3 1/2 inches high
    ..At least .007 inch thick

  • National Change of Address (NCOA)

    A service provided by the U.S. Postal Service, through licensed computer service bureaus, that enables mailers to make any necessary address corrections prior to their mailing being dropped. The mailer provides a magnetic tape that is run against the national change of address bank and then is returned to the mailer with all the corrections made.

  • Net Names

    The number of names remaining after a merge-purge eliminates all duplicates.

  • Nixies

    Pieces of mail returned as "undeliverable as addressed".

  • Nonmachinable

    Mail that cannot be sorted on mail processing equipment because of size, shape, content, or address legibility. Such mail is normally processed manually and could be subject to a surcharge.

  • Nonprofit Standard Mail

    A subclass of Standard Mail that is available to qualified organizations specified by U.S. statute and approved by the Postal Service.

  • Offset

    The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

  • Outsourcing

    Using an outside service rather than performing the work in-house.

  • Periodicals

    A class of mail consisting of authorized magazines, newspapers, or other publicatons formed of printed sheets that are issued at least four times a year at regular, specific intervals from a known office of publication.

  • Permit

    Any authorization required for specific types of services, preparation, or postage payment.

  • Permit Imprint

    Printed indicia, used in place of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp, that shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.

  • Piece Rate

    The postage charged for each piece in a mailing. For certain discount mail, a pound rate is charged in addition to the piece rate.

  • Postage

    Payment for delivery service that is affixed or imprinted onto a mailpiece, usually in the form of a postage stamp, permit imprint, or meter impression.

  • Postage Stamp

    A gummed or self-adhesive paper stamp affixed to mail as payment for postal services.

  • Postage Statement

    Documentation provided by a mailer to the Postal Service that reports the volume of mail being presented and the postage payable or affixed, and that certifies that the mail meets the applicable eligibility and addressing standards for the rate claimed.

  • Pound Rate

    A rate charged based on the weight of a mailing in addition to a piece rate.

  • Precanceled Stamp

    Stamps canceled by printing across the face before they are sold to mailers for bulk mailings. Also, a stamp designated by the Postal Service as a precanceled stamp without cancellation marks. These stamps are used for Presorted First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, and Nonprofit Standard Mail.

  • Presort

    The process by which a mailer groups mail by ZIP Code to qualify for discount rates.

  • Presorted First-Class Mail

    A nonautomation rate category for a mailing that consists of at least 500 addressed mailpieces and is sorted and prepared according to Postal Service standards. This mail is not required to include a barcode.

  • Presorted Mail

    A form of mail preparation, require to bypass certain postal operations, in which the mailer groups pieces in a mailing by ZIP code or by carrier route or carrier walk sequence (or other Postal Service-recommended separation).

  • Presorted Rates

    Discounted postage rates. In exchange for lower postage rates, mailers sort their mail using the ZIP code destinations on the mailpieces.

  • Printability

    The quality of papers to show reproduced printed images.

  • Proof

    Impression from composed type or blocks, taken for checking and correction, from a lithographic plate to check accuracy of layout, type matter, tone and color reproduction.

  • Reply Mail

    Refers collectively to Business Reply Mail, Meter Reply Mail, and Courtesy Reply Mail.

  • Sack

    A container generally used to transport flat-size mail, parcels, and loose-piece mail.

  • Seeding

    False or "dummy" names are added to a mailing list as a way to check delivery and to uncover any unathorized list usage.

  • Single-Piece Mail

    Mail sent using retail rates.

  • Single-Piece Rate

    Retail postage rates available for individual pieces of Express Mail, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, and Package Services. This type of rate contrasts with rates available for discount mail.

  • Sortation

    The distribution or separation of mail by ZIP Codes, range of ZIP Codes, or carrier route.

  • Standard Mail

    A mailing service (class of mail) that comprises the subclasses of Regular Standard Mail, Nonprofit Standard Mail, Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail, and Nonprofit Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail. Circulars, printed matter, pamphlets, catalogs, newsletters, direct mail, and merchandise can be sent as Standard Mail.

  • Stet

    A proofreader's symbol that is usually written in the copy margin, that indicates that the copy, which was marked for correction, should be left as it was.

  • Stock

    A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

  • Tensile Strength

    A paper's ability to withstand pressure.

  • Tray

    A container used by the Postal Service and mailers to hold letters and First-Class Mail flats. It is used as a basic untit of mail quantity for purposes of preparing mail to qualify for discounted postage rates.

  • Verification

    A system of checks used to determine if a mailing was properly prepared and if the correct postage was paid.

  • ZIP Code

    The system of 5-digit numeric codes that identifies the individual post office or delivery station associated with an address.

  • ZIP+4 code

    The nine-digit numeric code that identifies the individual delivery station, sector, and segment assigned with an address.