Direct mail has so many rules and regulations that you are bound to have some mistakes that cost you money. We have put together a list for you of the top 10 mistakes we see on a regular basis that will cost you more money in postage.

  1. Not enough room for the address and barcode: When there is not enough room in the addressing area for the address and the barcode, you will have to pay the non-auto postage rate.

  2. Folding: The post office requires that the final fold on a self-mailer be either to the right of the mail panel or below the mail panel. If your folding is wrong you will have to put them in envelopes or pay the non-machinable postage rate.

  3. Address panel in the wrong spot: Both letter size and flat size mail, have requirements on where the address panel can go. If your address panel is in the wrong spot you will have to put the mailer into an envelope.

  4. Return address too low: When your return address is in the OCR (optical character reader) area your mail will deliver to the return address instead of the addressee. All the money you spent on print and mailing will have been wasted.

  5. Coating on the address block: When you coat the postcard or mailer to give it that glossy finish, make sure to mask out the address block. In many cases the coating causes the ink of the address and barcode to not soak into the paper and not dry. When this happens you will spend more money to have labels affixed instead of inkjet on the mailer.

  6. Different paper stocks: Many times printers run short on a stock in the middle of a print run. They then switch to another similar stock that they have in house. This is a real problem for the post office since they weight verify all mail. Weights are different from stock to stock. When a mailing weighs differently it may be rejected or you may have to pay more postage.

  7. Dark address panel:  When you use a dark color in the address panel, the OCR machines cannot read the address. You will need to use a label or put them in an envelope. Keep in mind that even red is a problem.

  8. Print count matches mail count: When you print the exact number of mailers that you need to mail your mailing will end up short. You will have to go back on press to print more and a short run will cost you. 10% overs is a common standard for machine spoilage. That can be adjusted up or down depending on the total quantity.

  9. Incorrect indicia/permit printed on piece: Make sure that when you a checking your printer proofs you are looking at the indicia as well. The wrong permit number or wording will require a stamp or label to cover the incorrect information.

  10. Nonprofit Authorization:  In order to mail at nonprofit rates, you need the USPS to authorize you. The IRS tax filing is not the same as a USPS authorization. You will pay more in postage when you can’t mail at nonprofit rates.

The 10 items listed above are the most common mistakes we see, that is not to say they are the only ones we see. If you are planning a mailing, send us a PDF to look over and we can help you spot potential problems before you print.

Updated 2015  Postage Rate Chart

If you have any questions call us in San Diego at 619-448-6111 or email We are glad to help!