These recommendations can help you be a good steward of the university's resources. By knowing and complying with the latest changes in U.S. Postal Service regulations on all your mail-outs – invitations, postcards, newsletters or magazines, or other publications – you can save your unit and/or the university money – sometimes a significant amount. Below are just some of the ways you can lower your distribution costs. For other tips that may save you money and time, visit OU Central Mail’s website.
- If you’re sending out 200 or more pieces of mail, send it out as nonprofit rather than first class. University Printing has the software necessary to automate (barcode and sort) your mail for you. This can save you a lot of money. Recently, an OU department discovered it could save approximately $50,000 a year mailing out its bi-monthly newsletter at the nonprofit rate instead of first class.
- Strive for all-machinable mail. Machinable means that it can be read and sorted electronically, as opposed to by hand. Machinable mail follows postal guidelines that delineate spaces for barcodes, OCR read areas (OCR refers to the process by which scanned text is electronically “read.”)
- To ensure your postcards, booklets, fliers and other self-mailers (mail not enclosed in an envelope) are sent at the nonprofit rate, make sure to leave sufficient room at the bottom for the barcode (4 inches in length, ¼-inch in height). Also, make sure that the return address is at the upper, left-hand side of the piece to prevent the electronic reader from mailing the piece there instead of to the delivery address.
- If you will be using a tab to close a folded piece that will be mailed, make sure the tab is placed on the top or on the left. If you mail a publication that is open at the bottom, it is considered non-machinable and is much more costly. Non-machinable mail has a 21-cent surcharge per piece. (The nonprofit rate would increase from an average of 19 cents per piece to 40 cents, and first class would increase 21 cents on top of the actual postage.)
- Do not use red envelopes because the postage meter ink is also red, which makes the meter mark invisible to the reader.
- Don’t design under- or oversized postcards. The standard, and preferable size, for a postcard to be mailed at a nonprofit rate is 4-by-5.5 inches. As with other mail, follow postal regulations on barcode space at the bottom.
- Always use +4 ZIP codes with university addresses (available from the OU Central Mail Services website).