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Volume 2, No. 3 ~ Summer 2009
  • News
  • Print
  • Service
  • Design
  • Green
  • Trivia

USPS Changes Tabbing Standards

September 8 is the date when the U.S. Postal Service is adopting new tabbing standards that might affect the format, size, and postage cost of your self-mailer.

“Tabs” are the wafer seals that secure the open edges of booklets and other self-mailers. They help to prevent mail from jamming in the high-speed automation machines.

The new standards include increasing the size and number of tabs required, redefining what qualifies as a “booklet,” and reducing the maximum dimensions of a booklet for the “letter“ rate. 

So, for instance, your self-mailer booklet may have been sized accordingly to qualify for the lower-cost letter rate in the past but, if left unchanged, it now might have to be mailed at the more expensive flat rate.

It would be wise to either create a mock-up of your new self-mailer or have a sample of your current self-mailer, and show it to a U.S. Postal Service official or your mailing services provider for further guidance.

A PDF of the USPS “Quick Service Guide 201b Commercial Letters and Postcards: Using Tabs, Wafer Seals, and Glue Strips” (with a visual chart illustrating the new tabbing standards) can be found on our website (HowardPrintingInc.com/Links.htm#mailingshipping) or the USPS website (pe.usps.com/text/qsg300/Q201b.htm).




What is a Press Check and When is It Needed

A press check is an on-site, last-chance proofing step for the main purpose of achieving color accuracy. The press is literally set up and ready to run with your project but, before it does, the press operator brings out a proof on the actual paper right off the press.

A press check occurs only after you have given final sign-off on your project. The press check is really not the stage to be proofreading, since making corrections would incur costs for additional desktop time, plates, and set-up. However, sometimes the benefits and costs of catching a significant error on press can outweigh the expense of having to reprint a project.

Press checks are not as common nowadays, since such technological advancements as PDF proofs, Epson color proofs, and calibrated monitors have dramatically improved the accuracy and speed of prepress proofing over the years.

However, certain projects benefit from that one last opportunity to ensure color comes as close as possible to what you are seeking. A few examples of such cases include (1) matching corporate colors, (2) having large areas of solid color, and (3) having significant amounts of flesh tone to keep balanced and realistic.

In addition to color, several other items to include in your inspection are: registration (make sure the bleeds are pulled); hickeys (watch for unintentional spots or marks); paper (doublecheck that it is the right color, weight, and finish); content (look for any broken type, and make sure no text, photos, or other graphic elements are missing ); and folds (rule out and fold to size to ensure correct positioning and finish size).

Factors that can influence results on press include paper stock and ink colors. Some paper stock can be more challenging to achieve the desired color due to brightness, smoothness, weight, and opacity. And some colors are more easily reproduced on press than others. (Read more about how color looks on press versus on your monitor in our Fall 2008 newsletter archived online.)



Jumpstart Your Next Copywriting Project

Does your company need a new brochure to promote itself? Are you the one responsible for writing the copy for the brochure? Here is a basic outline to help jumpstart organizing and developing your text. For illustrative purposes, this example is for a letter-fold brochure (8.5x11 inches flat, folded in thirds to fit a letter-size envelope).

Panel 1 - Front cover

Be sure to include the name of your company, your logo, and a “call to action” or a descriptive headline or slogan, if appropriate.

Panel 2 - Opening panel 

This is the first panel you see on the right as you open the trifold brochure. This is a good place to provide concise, essential information to draw your reader into the brochure for more details. Focus on your company’s key benefits and why the customer should choose you. Maybe this will be a short list of items in bulleted format, or maybe it will be a sentence or two. Just ensure that it is something the reader will be able to grasp easily and quickly.

Panel 3 - Left inside panel

Here, you could feature an introductory overview about your business. For instance, the year it was established, a brief statement about who you are and what you do, and a mission and/or vision statement, if appropriate.

Panels 4 & 5 - Middle and right inside panels

This is where you could get a little more descriptive about your company’s products and/or services. You could also include the geographic areas you serve, a profile of your typical client, or something similar.

Panel 6 - Back cover

Repeat the name of your company on this panel, and include how your clients can contact you (address, telephone number, email address, website, office hours, directions, etc.). Another option is to use the back cover as your mailing panel, if it’s going to be a self-mailer.Other possible elements to include in your brochure are: images, customer testimonials, endorsements, accreditations, memberships, and recycled content.

Writer’s Block

Looking for a way to prevent (or at least minimize) writer’s block? To paraphrase good Continued from front advice from Ernest Hemingway, the best time to stop writing for the day is when you know what you’re going to write next. That way, you start the next day’s writing session with something in mind rather than struggling with writer’s block.




Four Easy Ways to “Talk the Talk” with Designers

In the spring issue of our newsletter, we discussed how to “talk the talk” with printers. This time, we thought we would share some insight on talking the talk with designers. Of the many design topics we could have chosen, here are four we think will help to get you started.


First and foremost, understanding and describing your audience to your designer is key for a design to be successful. The demographics of your targeted clients help to define what size and type of font(s) would work best, what colors would be most appealing, what images would be the most effective, etc.

Image Quality

An important aspect of image quality is resolution. Resolution refers to the number of dots per inch (DPI) in an image. The ideal resolution for print is 300 DPI, and for web is 72 DPI. If an image is low resolution, it will look pixelated — you can see the pixels (or units) that form the image rather than the details of the image itself. (“Pixels” is a word derived from picture elements.) When providing images to your designer, it is best to supply original images straight from the camera that have not been compressed, resized, or otherwise adjusted.


Colors — and the combination thereof — can be the most difficult design decision. Pantone is a great resource for you and your designer. Also, look around you at other publications or websites for color examples you like. Having visuals to show your designer are a big help. Do some marketing research online to determine what colors might be most appealing to your target audience. Choosing a color that becomes identifiable as part of your brand can be very beneficial.


Deciding on a font can be challenging, since the options are endless. Again, if you see something you like, it’s good to have visual samples to show your designer for reference. Considerations to keep in mind include readability, breathing space, and harmony among layout components. Here are several terms that might be helpful to know:

  • Serif fonts have a counter stroke or extender at the end of the main stroke. Examples include Times and Bookman.
  • Sans-serif fonts do not have serifs on the letters. Examples include: Arial and Helvetica.
  • Ascender is the part of the character that reaches above the baseline. Characters like b and h have ascenders.
  • Descender is the part of the character that reaches below the baseline. Characters like p and j have descenders.




Green Up Your Mailing List

To complement our “News” article about new USPS tabbing regulations for mailers, we thought we’d focus our “Green” article on your mailing list. 

Quantity does not necessarily ensure quality when it comes to sending direct-mail pieces (e.g., postcards, newsletters) to your intended audience. Cleaning up, and thus, greening up your mailing list can accomplish several goals, such as: (1) preventing waste on returned mail or duplicates, (2) preserving your marketing budget for other outreach efforts, (3) providing more accurate statistics for your marketing reports, and (4) enhancing your multichannel promotional efforts.

The added benefit is that you might reduce annoyance and increase goodwill among your clients by eliminating duplicates, double-checking the spelling of names, and noticing when clients who have expressed interest are unintentionally missing from your list.

Your mailing services provider can also assist with cleaning up your mailing list by using two USPS services — National Change of Address (NCOA) which checks your list against a national list of recipients who have moved, and Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) which verifies your list against a regularly updated, national list of known deliverable addresses.






Test Your Knowledge!

This quarter's printing-oriented trivia question is twofold:

Where and when was the first ink factory established?

Please submit your answer via email (info@howardprintinginc.com) or fax (802-257-1453). The first 25 correct submissions we receive by November 1, 2009, will be entered into a drawing for one $25 prize. This quarter's prize is a gift certificate for Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates in Peterborough, New Hampshire (www.avamariechocolates.com).
We look forward to receiving your submission! Thank you!

Answer to last quarter’s trivia question: "Who invented paper as we know it today, in what country, when, and from what material?"  T'sai Lun of China in AD 105, using mostly bark, hemp, and rags.

Please note: Limit one submission per customer. May not be combined with any other discounts/offers. Maximum value of this offer is $25. No cash value; no cash or credit back. Other restrictions may apply.

Ink Bar
Howard Printing, Inc., of Brattleboro, Vermont, is a full-service commercial printing company providing offset
and digital printing, wide-format printing, graphic design, computer-to-plate prepress technology,
variable data printing, mailing services, and bindery and finishing services. Howard Printing is also the publisher
of the New England Showcase real estate magazine and two Vermont coloring books.

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