Mailing Guidelines

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Introduction to Bulk Mail

3 main steps to a bulk mailing:

1. Submit a job order form to Bulk Mail (separate from order forms to Digital Publishing and Printing). Register a new user account or login and provide the order details.

2. Send address files to (or upload after logging in).

3. Deliver material to 45 N. Charter St.


Minimum Quantity:

Bulk Mailings require 200 or more pieces of identical material (same weight, height, length, thickness, content) in order to claim nonprofit or presort standard rates.

If mailing multiple types or versions of material, a bulk mailing order must be submitted for each type or version.


Mailpiece Design Review

Bulk Mail’s staff encourages sharing mailpiece design proofs with us prior to printing so we can ensure all USPS regulations are being followed, plus we can make cost saving design suggestions. If we’re not sure on a particular USPS rule, we’ll consult with mail piece design analysts at the post office.


Turnaround Time

3-5 business days is the average turnaround time from when Bulk Mail receives your job ticket, the address file(s), and the material.


What is NCOA?


NCOA stands for National Change Of Address. The U.S. Postal Service maintains a database of everyone who has filed an official change of address form with them over the last four years. NCOA is a service that allows you to update your address lists with the most accurate address information possible. NCOA is the most common method of complying with the USPS Move Update requirement. After running an address list through NCOA, that list is valid for 95 days. Any address files that Bulk Mail processes will be run through NCOA.


Pieces that arrive pre-addressed cannot be run through NCOA. and will therefore require an Ancillary Endorsement such as ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED to comply with the Move Update requirement (These rates will also be higher since they cannot be presorted for full automation rates).


Postage Discounts

To achieve the lowest possible postage rates, Bulk Mail will process your addresses through the National Change of Address database. After the file is cleansed of duplicates, old addresses, and bad addresses, the address list is presorted and the addresses are printed with a barcode. Almost all mail processed at Bulk Mail is barcoded to achieve the lowest automation postage rates. Pieces that arrived pre-addressed are not eligible for automation rates since a barcode cannot be applied and the pieces cannot be presorted.


Permit 658


Permit 658 is the nonprofit eligible permit owned by the University of Wisconsin. An indicia is a postal marking used rather than a stamp that includes the permit number. Most customers using our services have this permit pre-printed on their material so that the post office charges our permit account for postage, then we charge the customer back for the postage required. If the material does not have Permit 658 pre-printed, we can spray the permit while addressing. Permitted material cannot be placed in a dropbox and can only be submitted to a bulk mail entry unit with the required accompanying paperwork.

Any nonprofit mailing using Permit 658 must include “University of Wisconsin” somewhere in the return address since the University of Wisconsin is the nonprofit eligible organization that the post office looks for when they check the permit being used.

The other types of mailing indicias used with Permit 658 are Presort Standard, First Class Presorted, and First Class Single Piece Rate.

  • Nonprofit mail is the most economical but only available to nonprofit eligible organizations. Estimated delivery time is 3-9 days.
  • Presort Standard mail is slightly more expensive than Nonprofit but has the same estimated delivery time of 3-9 business days. If there is outside advertising that disqualifies nonprofit eligibility, it must be sent as Presort Standard.
  • First Class mail must be used for anything personalized, however you can send any piece at first class to expedite the delivery time (2-3 business days). Bulk Mailings with a First Class Presorted permit can be eligible for First Class Presort discounts if 500 or more pieces.

Address List Formatting Guidelines

Address List formats accepted: .xlsx, .xls, .csv, .dbf, .txt, .fp7.

*We cannot accept lists formatted in Word using an address label sheet layout.

The address block allows 5 lines with a maximum of 50 characters per line. If you have too much addressing information we will have to cut some of it out to fit these character restrictions.




  • Must be parsed into proper columns and data must be consistent
  • “Address” column should not contain company names or other info…only physical street addresses or PO Boxes should be in “Address” column.


*Failure to follow these formatting guidelines can delay mailing projects and add expense

(LINE 1)    NAME LINE: Can include entire name in single cell (50 character maximum), or split into separate columns that Bulk Mail will later merge:
prefix (if using “Mr.”, “Mrs.” “Ms.”, “Dr.”, “Professor”)
name1 (First name)
name2 (Middle name or middle initial)
name3 (Last name)
suffix (if using “Jr.”, “Sr.”, “III”)

(LINE 2)    TITLE: Person’s job title, i.e., “Dr.”, “Director”, “Vice President”, “Engineer”

(LINE 3)    FIRM: Person’s company/firm/organization; otherwise move Mail Stops or Building Numbers to this line

(LINE 4)    ADDRESS: May merge Address 1 and Address 2 fields
Address 1 (Primary mailing address, i.e., 325 W. Johnson Street)
Address 2 (Additional address info, e.g. “Suite 33”, “Bldg 4”, “PO Box 234”. If using a PO Box, our software will select the PO Box over the street address)

(LINE 5)    CITY, STATE  ZIP: May be in a single column or separated

ID (Can be retained during file processing but usually omitted during addressing)


Please note that this formatting applies to US/domestic addresses; We may organize campus and foreign differently. Please call 262-9973 for more information.

Postcard Guidelines


Length: Minimum: 5 inches | Maximum: 11.5 inches

Height: Minimum: 3.5 inches | Maximum: 6 1/8 inches

*ASPECT RATIO (length divided by height) between 1.3 and 2.5.

THICKNESS (If postcard is too thin, it will be subject to non-machinable postage rates of 54.6 cents per piece)

Small Postcard up to 4.25″ x 6″ = .007″ thick (at least 65# cover stock, recommend 80#/100# cover)

    ie, 3.5″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″, 4.25″ x 6″

Oversized Postcard larger than 4.25″ x 6″ = .009″ thick (80# cover min., recommend 100# cover)

    ie, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″, 6″ x 11.5″


BARCODE CLEAR ZONE: We request 4 inches from the right edge of the address panel to allow for the barcode. We typically spray the barcode directly above the mailing address and require at least 1/2″ inch clearance between the rightmost bar of the barcode and the right edge of the mailpiece. The USPS also requires at least 1/8″ inch buffer zone between the address label and any other print on the mailpiece.

NOTE: Although we request 4″ from the right edge, the absolute minimum spacing we need for barcoding is 3.5″ (required clearances: 1/2″ on RIGHT and 1/8″ on LEFT).

Another option is using the Barcode Clear Zone, which is an area in the bottom-right of each address panel that should be left free of any text, images, or colored backgrounds that would interfere with barcode readability.

Barcode Clear Zone: 4 3/4″ from right edge, 5/8″ from bottom edge

*If we cannot apply a barcode, the pieces are mailed at non-automation rates.


“Postcard” RATE –  only applies to First Class mailings where the piece does not exceed 4.25″ x 6″. There is no “postcard” rate for standard and nonprofit bulk mailings.

The confusing part about “POSTCARD” rate is the size of the card. Once you exceed the max postcard size of 4.25″ x 6″, the piece is considered a first class “LETTER” that mails at the first class letter rate of 50 cents each. For example, a 5.5″ x 8.5″ postcard exceeds the max “postcard” size; therefore it mails at the full First Class “letter” postage rate.
Small postcards (3.5″ x 5″ or 4″ x 6″ or 4.25″ x 6″) are eligible to mail at the First Class “Postcard” rate of 35 cents. If bulk mail prepares a First Class Presorted mailing of 4.25″ x 6″ postcards, the mailing is eligible for the postcard rate + additional discounts for applying barcodes (per piece price ranges from 26 cents – 35 cents).

Standard and nonprofit mail is different from First Class in that every size postcard mails at the same “letter” rate. For example, a 3.5″ x 5″ postcard (minimum size) mails at the same postage rate as a large 6″ x 11.5″ postcard (maximum postcard size). Standard and nonprofit mail doesn’t differentiate postcards from envelopes from self-mailers from stapled booklets… anything “letter” size is considered a letter (NOTE: the max length of a self-mailer or booklet is only 10.5″ whereas postcards and envelopes are allowed to be 11.5″ in length).

Flats Guidelines

  • Length: Minimum: 6 inches | Maximum: 15 inches
  • Height: Minimum: 5 inches | Maximum: 12 inches
  • Thickness: Minimum: 0.009 inch | Maximum: 3/4 inch

* (The length of a flat-size mailpiece is the longest dimension. The height is the dimension perpendicular to the length)

  •     Not rigid and not more than 1/4 inch variance in thickness.
  •     Must pass the deflection test for flats (cannot be too flimsy)
  •     Standard Mail Flats must weigh less than 16 ounces.


Flats must be addressed according to flat standards, meaning the address CANNOT be placed in the exact middle of the envelope. If the envelope is oriented horizontally, the address must be RIGHT of the center. If the envelope is oriented vertically, the address label must be ABOVE the center.


* When using 10″ x 13″ envelopes, the flat must be oriented horizontally to obtain Automation discounts on postage (due to 12 inch max height).

*Bulk Mail has a flat inserter machine that can handle some types of material provided the envelopes are oriented horizontally and do not exceed a 9″x12″ size. Call 262-9973 for details.

Folded Self-Mailer Guidelines

Self-mailers are folded pieces that are letter-sized, not mailed in envelopes, and do not have a stapled binding.

TABBING requirements:

(2) – 1 inch tabs for pieces up to 1 oz.
(3) – 1.5 inch tabs for pieces over 1 oz.

Tabs are the circular adhesive “stickers” that the USPS requires on self-mailers and stapled booklets to hold the edges shut throughout the mailing process. We will apply tabs as necessary to comply with postal regulations. We use translucent paper tabs (as seen to the left; your design and text appears clearly through the tabs). Perforated tabs are not permitted by the USPS.

*If it has staples in any fold, it is defined as a “BOOKLET”, not a self-mailer.

Minimum paper weight 70# Text (28# Bond) for mailpieces up to 1 oz (80# over 1 oz).
If using glossy paper, recommend 100# Gloss Text.

  • Self-Mailers require two tabs on the top edge
  • The maximum self-mailer size is 6″ x 10 1/2″. (minimum size is 3.5″x5″).
  • Aspect ratio (length divided by height) between 1.3 and 2.5.
  • The final folded panel should create the NON-ADDRESS SIDE of the mailpiece (for example, brochures have separate panels, where sheets of paper are folded and each folded section is a separate panel. That final flap that is folded over should be the NON-Address side).

*NOTE: the USPS made an exception to allow a 3-panel piece to mail if the final folded panel is the address side, but this exception requires 3 tabs, meaning it can delay your project and increase cost.


  • The final fold must be on the bottom edge



The first fold must be LEADING edge, and the final fold must be the BOTTOM edge.

HALF FOLD (Bi-fold)  –  Ex. 8.5″x11″ sheet folded in half

Fold on bottom, 2 tabs on top edge

Thickness must be greater than .009″ (recommend 100# gloss text, 100# flo gloss text, 100# matte text, or 80# gloss cover)

*Avoid 80# gloss text and 80# “digital” gloss paper since too thin for mailing.




Oblong mailpieces have vertical fold(s) that are perpendicular to the length of the letter, but the final fold must be on the leading edge (right side of the mailpiece). There must be at least two full-sized panels (maximum of 12 panels) to be considered a self-mailer. Oblong pieces require different tabbing than standard self mailers.

If an oblong mailpiece has a shorter flap, the flap must be at least 5 inches at its longest point when measured from the LEADING edge, and the short flap must end at least 1 inch from the TRAILING edge of the mailpiece (see below).


*Please feel free to contact us at 262-9973 or for additional details or if you have questions about your design. If the piece is deemed non-machinable, it can be subject to postage rates of 54.6 cents a piece.

3-Tab (Stapled) Booklet Guidelines

The max size 6″ x 10.5″
Recommended paper stock 70# uncoated text or 80# gloss coated text. 70# gloss acceptable if 12 or more pages.

Stapled booklets always require (3) 1.5 inch tabs, two on the leading edge and one on the trailing edge.

Saddle stitched booklets have staples in the spine along the bottom edge. Other booklets have staples in the LEAD edge (most newsletters) where the first fold is the stapled binding, then it’s folded in half again so that the final fold is on the bottom of the address panel.

*NOTE: all stapled booklets require an initial pass through our triple tabbing machine prior to a second pass through the inkjet for addressing. Designing pieces as folded self-mailers instead of stapled booklets can expedite your mailings and save on mailing preparation expenses.

Machine Inserted Letter Guidelines

Our machine inserters work best with standard #10 envelopes or 6″ x 9″ envelopes. Specific designs of A6 and A7 invitation style envelopes may also be machine compatible. We also have a flat inserter that can handle some types of material provided the envelopes are oriented horizontally and not larger than 9″x12″.

Our machine inserters work with commercial envelopes where the flap is rounded at the corners. Please consider enclosure length in relation to envelope length to allow preferred 1/2″ clearance for machine inserting (i.e., #10 envelope = 9″ length, enclosed letter = 8.5″ length → allows 1/4″ clearance on each side). Please note this clearance must be relative to the INNER width of the envelope (factoring in folds and thickness of materials), not the outer dimensions.

Our machine inserters are not compatible with pointed or square envelope flaps (see examples in red). These flaps will need to be hand inserted, which increases turnaround time and expense.

A “Letter-Fold” is the preferred fold style rather than a “Z-fold”.


  • The Bulk Mail Center has a tabletop folding machine that can handle half-folds and Letter-Folds using standard copy paper. Unfortunately we cannot fold brochures, letters, newspapers, etc.
  • We carry blank white envelopes that can be purchased for mailings:
    • #10 standard
    • 6″x9″ booklet
    • 9″x12″ booklet