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Volume 4, No. 2 ~ Fall 2011
  • News
  • Print
  • Service
  • Design
  • Green
  • Trivia

New USPS Rules Take Effect Soon for Folded Self-Mailers 
and Unenveloped Mailpieces

The U.S. Postal System (USPS) will soon be implementing new rules for folded self-mailers (FSM) and unenveloped mailpieces. Heeding these new rules will help to ensure you continue to receive automated letter rate discounts.

The changes are a result of a three-year study the USPS conducted with assistance from the mailing industry. The study's goal was to develop new standards that would improve the handling and physical integrity of FSMs as they go through high-speed processing equipment.

Although the full ruling has yet to be published, a link to a PDF of the USPS quick reference guide, "Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material," can be found on our website.:


Here are some brief highlights of the proposed ruling:

  • Length — minimum 5 inches and maximum 10.5 inches.
  • Height — minimum 3.5 inches and maximum 6 inches.
  • Weight — minimum up to 1 ounce for 70# text and more than 1 ounce for 80# text, and maximum up to 3 ounces.
  • Tabs — two 1-inch tabs for up to 1 ounce and two 1.5-inch tabs for over 1 ounce
  • Panels — maximum of 8 (e.g., a single sheet folded in half equals 2 panels, a single sheet folded in thirds equals 3 panels, two sheets folded in half equals 4 panels, two sheets folded in thirds equals 6 panels). (Note: Both sides of a panel count as one-and-the-same panel.)


Six Simple Rules for QR Codes

By John Parsons

John Parsons is the principal of Byte Media Strategies LLC, Bainbridge Island, WA. This is an excerpt of his article that appeared on paperspecs.com on September 13, 2011. Contact him at john@bytemedianews.com.

QR ("Quick Response") Codes have been around for a long time in Japan, but have only recently become a hot topic in North America.

The prospect of extending one's brand message from print, outdoor or TV media into mobile devices has captured the imagination of marketing and communications professionals. However, there are basic rules for this "new" media, which are violated at the brand owner's peril.

For the most part, these rules assume we're talking about QR Code, the free, ISO-governed specification developed in Japan by Denso-Wave in 1994. However, they also apply to other 2D barcode formats, such as Semacode, Data Matrix and the proprietary (but colorful) Microsoft Tag.

RULE 1: Keep the "Data Density" Low
It is technically possible to encode thousands of characters in a single QR Code image or tag. However, the more data you encode, the denser the resulting tag will be.

A "matrix" of more than 33×33 data pixels increases the risk that it will not be scanned or processed correctly. Not all phone cameras and reader software can handle a really dense 2D barcode.

There is an extension of Rule 1 for QR Codes that resolve to websites. The shorter the URL, the less dense your QR Code image or tag will be. If you're comfortable using a third party URL shortener like bit.ly or TinyURL, do so. Otherwise, buy a short domain or subdomain name and resolve it via DNS.

RULE 2: Print Conditions Matter
As a general rule of thumb, printed QR Code images or "tags" should be at least one inch (2.54 cm) square (Other formats may be printed at smaller sizes than QR Code. For example, Data Matrix images can be 0.75″ (1.9 cm) square. For Microsoft Tag, it can be as small as 0.5″ (1.27 cm) square.) – assuming the tag's matrix is reasonably small (see Rule 1) and the user is holding the printed piece.

For posters and display media, it needs to be large enough for easy scanning. In addition, it must have sufficient margins around the image, to allow smartphone cameras and reader software to capture and process the tag.

Also, QR Code tags should always be printed for use in optimal viewing conditions: sufficient light, not behind highly reflective surfaces and on media suitable for mobile users (e.g., on pedestrian mall signs, not on freeway signs). Print professionals should always leverage their expert knowledge of how print is consumed, and what people are typically doing when they consume it.

RULE 3: Make It Easy to Download a Reader
In North America today, most smartphones do not come with 2D barcode reader software preloaded. This is beginning to change, as carriers, phone manufacturers and OS providers catch on. Until then, however, a smartphone user must download a free reader before he or she can scan a tag.

So, for now, every QR Code campaign must include a simple means of locating and downloading the software. Several services exist to make this easy for the end user, including 2DGO, a free 2D barcode reader assistant.

RULE 4: Make the Landing Page Mobile-Friendly
Nothing will kill your 2D barcode campaign faster than directing users to an ordinary Web page. Mobile browsers have unique requirements: small screens, CSS issues, bandwidth issues, memory/storage limitations and the absence of runtime code support, such as Flash for the iPhone. What works on a regular browser may frustrate and anger the very people you're trying to reach. Make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile use.

RULE 5: Offer the User Something Valuable
You're asking a mobile user to spend his or her time with your brand on their personal, handheld device. Make the experience worth the effort. Offer something the user actually wants — something that meets a real need. (Think of QR Codes and their mobile landing pages as the Genii from Arabian Nights. Give the person viewing your QR Code a reason to rub the lamp.)

RULE 6: Give the User Something Meaningful To Do
Every QR Code scan and its mobile experience represent potential value to your business: a sale or lead, a more brand-loyal customer, a long-term business relationship. For that to happen, however, the mobile landing page must include some meaningful, desirable action that the user can take — one that makes sense on a mobile phone, including the ability to provide:

- Mobile coupons, prizes and membership/rewards programs
- Streaming video or audio
- Store locations/directions, via Google Mobile Maps
- Mobile tickets and reservations
- Promotion of featured products or services
- Immediate call back requests
- Direct calling, SMS/MMS text messaging and emails
- Invitations to connect via Twitter, YouTube or Facebook
- Image galleries
- Anything a smartphone can do

An email opt-in process is also a possibility, if used with care. (An opportunity to be on a spam list is never an attractive offer.) Always give the user something to do that meets his or her need — a real reason to interact with your brand.

Copyright 2011 John Parsons. Reprinted with permission.



Ensure Postal Discounts By Using Correct Tabs

To qualify for postal discounts offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), letter-size self-mailers must be secured by tabs (wafer seals) or glue dots/strips to prevent mailpieces from jamming in the high-speed processing equipment. (Letter-size self-mailers are unenveloped mailpieces, including folded postcards, letters, brochures, and booklets.)

The number and placement of tabs depend upon the design of the self-mailer (e.g., dimensions of the mailpiece, paper weight, location of the fold or bound edge). The tabs cannot interfere with recognition of postage information, rate markings, the barcode, or required address information. More than the required number of tabs can be used.

The best explanation for the number and location of tabs is to view the illustrations seen at right.

See this link for further information and more visual samples.
Double Postcard 1 Tab
Folded Self-Mailer 2 Tabs
Folded Self-Mailer 3 Tabs



Managing Swatches in Four-Color Designs

When designing four-color artwork for printing, it is important to manage spot and CMYK color swatches for the job to print correctly. The colors in the artwork must separate onto four distinct plates — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black — that run on the press. If a color is labeled anything other than CYMK (process), it will be missing from the plates.

Do not create swatches in RGB mode. (RGB — red, green, blue — colors are used to display images electronically on computer monitors and TV screens; they must be converted to CMYK before printing.) RGB swatches may appear in your palette due to importing text from a Word document. Text imported from Word may appear to be black but is actually an RGB color. This text will need to be changed to 100 percent black; or if the RGB swatch is indeed a color, convert the swatch to CMYK.

Do not choose swatches from the Pantone (spot) libraries. Or, if you do, be sure to convert them to process (CMYK) color before submitting your artwork for printing. (Note that even though all Pantone colors have a pre-defined CMYK formula, some convert better to CMYK process color than others. Please ask us!)

Sometimes Pantone colors will automatically appear in your palette as a result of importing a spot-color image file (e.g., a logo created in Illustrator) into your document. A good practice to follow is to have separate logo files for each color mode — spot and process.

When you close your file for the last time before submitting your artwork for printing, check your swatches palette again. Keep only those swatches that are actively used in your design. Delete duplicate swatches and unused swatches.
If you are designing a job that uses both CMYK and spot color, please feel free to contact us for any questions or advice.

Why Print is a "Responsible" Choice

By Margie Dana

Margie Dana is a writer, speaker, consultant and event producer, and the founder of Print Buyers International. This is an excerpt from one of her weekly "Print Tips" columns that she published on October 8, 2011, entitled "In Defense of Print: 10 Great Resources". You can find the full Print Tip on our website as well as hers at: www.printbuyersinternational.com. Please subscribe to "Margie's Print Tips" on her website, and get a new column every Monday!

Over the past few weeks I've gotten many requests for resources to help customers articulate why printing is the "right" choice when deciding on media. More and more, print specifiers feel pressured to defend print as environmentally friendly.

They need facts at their fingertips when building a case for print. That's the motivation behind today's Print Tip. I am committed to building out our site's Resources section. This will be just the beginning.
Today, I want to share just 10 resources you can access immediately to help you articulate why print is a "responsible" choice. These are in no particular order. This list is NOT comprehensive – but I had to start somewhere. Your comments and additions are most welcome.

  1. Paper Because campaign by Domtar Paper |  www.paperbecause.com
    The Paper Because website is wonderful and easy to use. Check out their Knowledge Center once you get there, too. "Why paper? Because paper is effective and has value. That is why Domtar has launched the PAPER because campaign – to highlight the key role paper plays in our lives and the reasons why it's an environmentally sound choice."
  2. Rediscover Print by PIAG (a PIA affiliate)  |  www.rediscoverprint.com
    The Printing & Imaging Association of Georgia Educational Foundation offers another fantastic resource. "Rediscover Print is committed to searching out credible information, case studies, and statistics about print in order to expose you to the trends and tactics that help you make a positive impact in your communications," it reads on the site. Don't miss their blog as well. Their latest post is all about cool and effective QR codes.
  3. Print Grows Trees by PGAMA (a PIA affiliate)  |   www.printgrowstrees.com
    The Printing & Graphics Association MidAtlantic created this campaign. According to the site: "Print Grows Trees" is an educational campaign that uses facts to show that print on paper actually helps to grow trees and keep our forests from being sold for development. By connecting the dots between print and the private landowners who own almost 60 percent of U.S. woodlands, "Print Grows Trees" challenges the widely held belief that by using less paper, trees will be saved." I wish that you could get to this resource from their main association page at www.pgama.com, but I couldn't find a direct link. However, from the Store tab off the main page, you can purchase several products, including the book, "Print Grows Trees," for $29.95.
  4. Choose Print by PIASC (a PIA affiliate)  |   www.chooseprint.org
    The Printing Industries Association of Southern California is the sponsor of the Choose Print campaign. According to the site, "Choose Print is an educational campaign designed to promote the value of print and to reinforce the fact that print is a recyclable, renewable and sustainable environmental choice. Choose Print is sponsored by Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC), the not-for-profit trade association serving the graphic communications industry in Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura Counties as well as Clark County, Nevada. PIASC is the largest local graphic arts trade association in the nation, serving the interests of more than 1,300 member companies."
  5. Sappi's eQ campaign |  www.na.sappi.com/eQ/
    Sappi Fine Paper's eQ campaign is its sustainability brand. "eQ" stands for Environmental Quotient. Their goal is to elevate the environmental knowledge of their customers. Lots of videos at this site.
  6. Part of Life by PrintNZ |  http://partoflife.co.nz
    PrintNZ is the printing industry trade association of New Zealand. "The Print: Part of Life campaign aims to remind consumers of print's irreplaceable role in their lives and inform them of what print can offer. There are a lot of common misconceptions about the printing industry so we want to present people with the facts about print so they can be fully informed when making sustainable choices. For business people, particularly those who work in marketing, we want to reinforce the many benefits that print offers them as part of the marketing mix."
  7. Two Sides |  www.twosides.info
    I hadn't heard of Two Sides until speakers at our Print & Media Conference last month told me about them. The site explains, "Two Sides' is an initiative by companies from the Graphic Communications Supply Chain including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre press, press, finishing, publishing and printing. Our common goal is to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper, and dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing users with verifiable information on why print and paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium." Two Sides, according to a recent news release, began in Europe in 2008. Today, it is active in 12 countries, with links to similar projects in Australia and Japan. More than 35 companies have supported the organization's U.S. start-up. There's a massive amount of great information on their site.
  8. Institute for Sustainable Communication | www.sustainablecommunication.org
    ISC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization "whose mission is to raise awareness, build capacity and foster the widespread adoption of economically viable, environmentally restorative and socially constructive uses of print and digital media." Their offices are in New York City. Their site is rich with articles, videos, events, white papers and much, much more.
  9. Print in the Mix at RIT   |  www.printinthemix.com
    Print in the Mix: A Clearinghouse of Research on Print Media Effectiveness is housed at RIT (the Rochester Institute of Technology) in NY.  Established with a grant from The Print Council, its purpose is to "advocate and educate for the value of print as a viable and effective ROI in the marketing strategy media mix." There's a lot of excellent and compelling research at this site. Do check it out.
  10. Print Delivers by The Print Council  | http://theprintcouncil.org/initiatives/print-delivers-seminar-series/
    The Print Council created "Print Delivers" as a series of educational seminars to help "educate media and marketing decision makers about the effectiveness of print and why print should be an important part of marketing campaigns." This is just one of many such initiatives offered by the Council. Learn a lot more at their site.

    There you have it – 10 resources to help educate you about the sustainability of print. Please send me additional suggestions and I will add them to our web site when the Resources section is built out. I will also be working on a section devoted to paper and sustainability.

©2011 Margie Dana. Reprinted with permission.




Test Your Knowledge!

This quarter’s trivia question is:

What is the first advertising slogan attributed to Apple, Inc., co-founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak?

Please submit your answer via email (info@howardprintinginc.com) or fax (802-257-1453). The first 25 correct submissions we receive by December 31, 2011, will be entered into a drawing for one $25 prize. The prize is a gift certificate to Cold Hollow Cider Mill of Waterbury Center, VT, and online at www.coldhollow.com.

Answer to last quarter’s trivia question: The first general issue U.S. postage stamps were issued in New York City on July 1, 1847 — a five-cent stamp that depicted Benjamin Franklin and a 10-cent stamp that pictured George Washington.

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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