Envelopes: Sizes, Tips, Things You Never Knew…

The standard office envelope that 99% of people use is what is called a #10 Envelope. This staple of the office copy room is merely the tip of the ice berg of the shapes and sizes that envelopes come in. There are 13 different size commercial envelopes alone, plus all the sizes of announcement, square, catalog, and booklet envelopes!

Envelope Types & Sizes

  • Commercial Envelopes are mostly seen in business correspondence, they are very rectangular in dimension, and range in size from 3 1/2 x 6 inches long to 5 x 11 1/2 inches long. They are named by number, #6 1/4 envelope all the way up to a #14.
  • Announcement Envelopes are more common for greeting cards, wedding invitations, and thank you notes. They are more on the square side, but not completely square, and they range in size from 4 3/8 x 5 3/4 inches to 6 x 9 1/2 inches. All these sizes can still be mailed with regular first class postage.
  • Square Envelopes have become popular in greeting cards and other personal correspondence, of course the post office requires more than standard postage for these attractive pieces. They range in size from 5 inches up to 13 1/2 inches.
  • Beyond these you get into catalog, booklet, and over sizes envelopes which are important when mailing larger packages. These types of envelopes can open on the long or short end and this fact is important when you consider what you plan to do with these envelopes. If your intention is to machine stuff them with a booklet or catalog type document you should make sure to get the kind that open on the long end. Your knowledgable designer, printer, or mailhouse can help you choose.

Type of Flaps

There are a variety of different envelope flaps to choose from. Originally, these envelopes were designated for a specific purpose, but in the modern world you can make your choice depending on what fits your brand identity and practical need. For instance, Policy Envelopes used to be the standard for attorneys and official documents, nowadays they are chosen for their unique style.

envelope flaps

About printing and cost: Of course the more obscure envelope choice the more expensive they tend to be, this is true of almost anything. If you plan to use the envelopes for machine fed direct mail pieces you should stick to the basic Commercial Flap and always consult your printer or mailhouse before making a big order.

Envelopes with a Specific Purpose

Remittance Envelopes are a good example of having a specific purpose, you often see these coming to you asking for a donation. They are generally smaller and have a printed flap that you tear off and return in its envelope with a check.

Security Envelopes are another good example. Most financial institutions use security envelopes, where a pattern is printed on the interior of the envelope to hide the contents of the envelope from being seen when held to the light.

What does it mean to “convert” an envelope?

Most common envelopes can be ordered pre-made, meaning that a blank piece of paper has already been cut, folded, and glued in all the ways needed to become a fully functioning blank envelope. Your printer can purchase these pre-made envelopes for you and print your company information and logo on them, in some cases you can even print on the flap. What you cannot do to pre-made envelopes is print anything that bleeds off the edge. In order to do this or to have a not commonly found envelope made, you have to ask your printer to print and then convert the envelope. This requires the printer to print on a flat sheet of paper, die-cut, score, fold, and glue the envelope into a fully functioning envelope.

large envelope

Example of My Work

There is so much more to know about envelopes, but having a good start can mean having the tools to find a unique solution for your project. My most recent and favorite use of an envelope was an invitation that I did for a local Golf Tournament. We used a #14 envelope (5″ tall by 11 1/2″ long), which is huge in comparison to your regular mail. We stuffed them with a designed flat card and mailing them at regular letter rates. These were large enough to leave an impression on the recipient and less expensive than a folded card of a smaller size!

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