Glossary

A Glossary of Common Terms in Data Processing and Mailing

Aspect ratio / Carrier-route / CASS / Cheshire labels / Endorsement / FIM / 5-digit / Flat-size / Floating fields / GMF / Indicia / Ink-jet / Laser printing / Letter-size / Merge-purge / NCOA / Periodicals / Postcards / Precanceled stamps / Presorted / Presorted Standard mail / Record layout / Resident file / Standardize / Suppression file / Tabs / 3-digit

Aspect ratio The aspect ratio of a mail piece is the length divided by the height.  In order to qualify for letter-size, automated postage rates, the aspect ratio must fall between 1.3 and 2.5.

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Carrier-route Zip codes are typically subdivided into ten to thirty routes that the letter-carriers actually cover.  In addressing, the carrier route is shown with a “C” followed by a three-digit number, such as “C012”.  Carrier-route mail is highly concentrated mail often used by retailers, restaurants, and local service providers that want to reach all available addresses within a given location.

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CASS “CASS” stands for “Coding Accuracy Support System”.  Mailing lists are processed through CASS-certified software (such as that run by CDM), which standardizes the address format and appends the appropriate Zip+4 and carrier-route numbers to all the address that match the database.

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Cheshire labels Cheshire labels were the standard means of addressing mail for many years.  Addresses are printed out usually four-across on wide computer paper.  The paper is cut into individual labels, and the labels are then glued on the mail pieces by special equipment.  CDM no longer offers this service.

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Endorsement This term refers to a phrase such as “Address Service Requested” and “Return Service Requested” that is printed on the outside of the mail piece near the return address or delivery address to instruct the Postal Service in handling the piece in the event that it is not deliverable as addressed.  There are various services available at different prices, so it is advisable to consult with the Postal Service and your CSR before printing.

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FIM “FIM” stands for “Facing Identification Marks”, which are the black bars in the top right area of a reply mail piece.  These marks help to orient the piece properly as it moves through automated postal handling equipment.

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5-digit This term refers to the five digits of a zip code.  It is usually used in reference to presorting schemes and postal discounts.

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Flat-size “Flats” are mail pieces that are larger than letter-size, meaning that they exceed a length of 11.5, a height of 6.125, or a thickness of .25.  Higher postage rates apply to flats than letters.

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Floating fields Floating fields occur in name and address files when data fields, such as the zip code field, appear in different columns or positions from record to record.  This “float” needs to be corrected before other data processing steps can be undertaken.

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GMF “GMF” stands for “General Mail Facility”, which is a major mail handling facility for the Postal Service.  In Denver, it houses the main business mail entry office for the metropolitan area.

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Indicia An indicia is a permit printed on a mail piece that denotes the class of mail and the means of postage payment.  It is synonymous with permit imprint and postal permit.

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Ink-jet We do all of our addressing with ink-jet or laser printers.  The ink-jets produce a high quality, high volume address image with postal barcodes.  This type of addressing is the most economical system available today.  It is what is referred to as “near laser” image quality at less than half the price and with a great deal more flexibility than laser.

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Laser printing Laser printing is commonly used to create personalized letters, statements, or forms, often with variable data inserted into specific areas of the document.  The letters or forms can be set up so that when folded, the name and address show through a window envelope.  Alternatively, a matching closed-face envelope can be produced.

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Letter-size Mail pieces that are “letter size” are a minimum of 3.5 high by 5.0 long and a maximum of 6.125 high by 11.5 long.  The maximum thickness for a letter is .25.

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Merge-purge Merge-purge is a general term referring to the identification of matching records within one or multiply mail files.  The exact nature of the match that the software is to search for must be defined on each project.  For example, the match can be on name only, exact address only, company name, name and address, and so on.  What happens when matches are found must also be defined.

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NCOA The National Change of Address (NCOA) database is maintained by the U.S. Postal Service as a resource for mailers to make certain that their name and address files are as current as possible.  The database contains the last four years of address change information on record with the Postal Service.  Vendors are licensed by the Postal Service to be able to run mailers’ databases against the NCOA file for a fee to provide the most up-to-date, deliverable address records possible.

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Periodicals Magazines, newspapers, and other publications issued at lease four times a year at regular intervals may qualify to be mailed at Periodical rates.

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Postcards The U.S. Postal Service makes a distinction for postcards in First Class mail only.  The minimum size is 3.5 x 5.0, and the maximum size is 4.25 x 6.0.  Postcards may be printed on stock as thin as .007”.  A so-called “double postcard”, where half of the mail-piece is a tear-off reply card, may also qualify to mail at postcard rates in First Class mail.

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Precanceled stamps Precanceled stamps are live stamps that can be used as a means of payment for First Class and Standard mail postage.  Studies by the direct mail advertising industry have shown that the use of precanceled stamps can increase the likelihood that the mail will be opened.  Because the face value of the stamp does not represent the actual amount of the postage due, additional postage is paid upon presentation of the mail.

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Presorted The term “presorted” is used in both First Class and Standard mail.  Name and address files must be presorted by software approved by the U.S. Postal Service through its PAVE system (Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation) in order to qualify for postage discounts.  Simply putting files in zip order sequence does not constitute “presorted” sequence.

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Presorted Standard mail Standard mail is what used to be called Bulk Rate or Third Class mail.

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Record layout A record layout accompanies a name and address file.  Identifying the information found in each position within a record.  A layout is helpful to our Data Processing department personnel in that it provides the analyst with a key to understanding the raw data contained in the file.

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Resident file A resident file, or occupant file, is the most basic and least expensive type of consumer list available.  The Postal Service provides files of all the deliverable addresses in its system on a quarterly basis to licensed vendors.  No names are available on this file, although a title line may be substituted for the word “resident”.  It is selectable by single-family dwellings, apartments, trailers, business addresses, residential box holders, and business box holders.

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Standardize Name and address files are run through postal software that “standardizes” the addresses so that they meet postal specifications for such things as street abbreviations (Avenue becomes AVE), directional’s (West becomes W), and suite or apartment numbers (Suite @201 becomes STE 201).  Address Standardization is part of the CASS process.  Standardizing the addresses also helps in merge-purge accuracy.

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Suppression file A suppression file is a list of names and addresses that should not be mailed to.  It is matched against a mailing list, and any matching records are removed from the mailing list.  A suppression file is typically a list of existing customers, members, or existing subscribers who should not receive a particular offer, respondents to previous mailings, or a list that was used on a previous mailing.  Mechanically, running a suppression file is similar to a merge-purge.

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Tabs Tabs, or wafer seals, are required on letter-size, folded self-mailers in order to qualify for barcoded postage discounts.  The number and placement of the tabs are based on the piece design.  They are generally applied on-line with the ink-jet addressing systems.  Tabs come in white, translucent, and clear styles, with and without perfs.

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3-digit the Postal Service provides postage discounts based on the geographic density of the mailing.  Like 5-digit, this term refers to the first three digits of the zip code and is usually used in reference to presorting schemes and postal discounts.

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Last update: August 19, 2017