6 Ways to Comply With New USPS Tabbing Rules
If you haven't been spending your evenings poring over the latest rules and regulations from the United States Postal Service, you may have overlooked the latest missive on tabbing letter-sized booklets.
It seems that current standards just don't cut it on the high-speed machines installed by the USPS to improve processing, streamline production and keep the cost of mass mailings under control. As a result, Uncle Sam's postal unit has issued some new rules for tabbing booklets—effective as of Sept. 8, 2009.
It's important to note that for now these new rules apply only to letter-sized booklets, not letter-sized self-mailers. What's a booklet? It's basically a mail piece held together by some sort of binding—be it stitched (stapled), spine glued or perfect bound. If you're planning to mail a letter-sized booklet that's closed on one end and open on three sides anytime in the near future, here are a few tips on tabs to keep you from running afoul of postal inspectors and wasting time or money.
1. Keep it small. New USPS rules have reduced the size to a maximum of 6˝ X 10-1/2˝, and some designs call for a maximum length of 9˝. The weight limit for any letter-sized piece not inserted into an envelope is three ounces, a rule that's already in place.
2. Use bigger tabs. A second important change is the required size for tabs goes from one inch smaller than the current rules to 1.5 inches. The USPS recommends larger two-inch tabs for larger or heavier booklets.
3. Steer clear of perforations. While this rule may pose a challenge for mail marketers, perforations are no longer allowed. Only solid tabs made of plastic, vinyl, translucent paper, opaque paper or cellophane tape make the grade.
4. Tab it three times. One more change that definitely will affect print production is that three tabs are required—two at the head and one on the foot of letter-size booklets. This will require your printer or mail house to use two tabbers in-line during production, which likely will increase the cost of the mailing.
5. Watch your weight. Finally, under the new rules, the covers of letter-sized booklets have a weight limit of 40-pound to 80-pound text, depending on the configuration. So be sure to watch your weight.
6. A tab-free tip. Looking for a creative way to comply with the new USPS regulations—without using conventional tabs? Make the cover larger than the printed pages, fold the booklet cover over itself (much like the flap of an envelope), and then close it with glue spots or a strip of fugitive glue. It's a clean and simple way to make sure your booklets conform to USPS standards.
Visit http://pe.usps.com/FRN/Booklets.doc or http://www.usps.com/mailpro/2009/julyaug/page4.htm for more information about processing letter-size booklets.
Mike Brenneman, business development manager at Intelligencer Mailing & Fulfillment Services of Lancaster, Pa., can be reached at (800) 233-0107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.