ENVELOPE TERMINOLOGY GLOSSARY
Acidity – refers to the PH (the acidity or alkalinity) of the paper. All of our paper is acid free. This does not make it truly archival, but it is definitely anti-tarnish and anti-yellowing at a competitive price.
Archival paper – low pH paper created especially for long term, indefinite, storage (hundreds of years).
Adjustable Cutting Blades – blades which can be varied in size to produce envelopes of different sizes, including seal flaps of different lengths and shapes. Used when we do not have the correct size high die, or when the use of “blades” the number of envelope blanks that can be cut from a given size sheet of paper.
A Announcement Size – A rectangular envelope whose seal flap always stops at the midpoint on the backside of the envelope, per this sketch. Common sizes: A-2 (4-3/8 x 5-3/4), A-6 (4-3/4 x 6-1/2), A-7 (5-1/4 x 7-1/4), A-8 (5-1/2 x 8-1/8), A-9 (5-3/4 x 8-3/4), A-10 (6 x 9-1/2). All of these sizes meet the USPS aspect ratio requirement for mailing at first class letter mail rates.
Artwork – Historically a clean sharp paper-based physical image (picture) of what is to be reproduced. Now nearly obsolete in most prepress environments since the advent of digital imaging creation technologies.
Aspect Ratio – A USPS term referring to the relationship of the width (length) of an envelope divided by its height. To qualify as letter size first class mail, and therefore be eligible to be mailed at the one once first class rate, this ratio must be between 1.3 and 2.5. For example, an envelope with the height of an A7 (5-1/4”) when multiplied by 1.3 (the minimum width multiplier) could be as short as 6-7/8″, or, when multiplied by 2.5 be as wide (long)as 10-1/2”. If outside those dimensions 2 ounces of postage would be required even though the weight was one ounce or less. For a full discussion of United States Post Office terms, please click here.
Avpexine – the most commonly used film for providing the patch, or window covering material. Commonly called “Poly”, it is not biodegradable. Other films include Tricyte (clear and also not biodegradable) and glassine which is somewhat cloudy but is biodegradable.
Bangtails – A one-way response/remittance envelope that has a tear-off coupon for returning information of all kinds (addresses, orders, etc.). Commonly mailed to the recipient in a #10, or included as a stuffer in a catalog. Alt include Kost Kuts and Hitchhikers.
Baronial – A squarish envelope made with diagonal seams and a longish pointed flap that ends below the mid-point of the back of the envelope, per sketch. Common Sizes: 4 Bar (3-5/8 x 5-1/8), 5 Bar (4-1/8 x 5-1/2), Astor (3-5/8 x 5-5/8), 5-1/2 Bar (4-3/8 x 5-3/4), Belmont (4-1/4 x 6-1/4), 6 Bar (4-3/4 x 6-1/2), Jay (5-1/8 x 6-7/8), Lee (5-1/4 x 7-1/4). All of these sizes fall within the USPS aspect ratio standards for mailing at 1st class letter mail rates.
Blank – an envelope that has been cut into the shape of an envelope, but not yet folded.
Bleed – a printing term that means ink runs off the edge of the sheet, or folds over to the other side of the envelope. Envelopes with bleed copy generally must be printed in a flat sheet before the blanks are cut. To achieve the effect of bleed exactly at a score line (for example where the seal flap folds) the copy should wrap 5/32” to the other side of the envelope.
Bar Code – a series of long and short vertical bars that represent the ZIP code of the addressee. A relatively new 4-state bar code (intelligent mail) allows for more efficient mailing. Click here for a more complete discussion of the IMb.
Bond – A writing grade of paper measured on a 17 x 22” basis. Common weights are 20 lbs. per 500 sheets, 24 lbs and 32 lbs. Seems like unlimited availability in sheet sizes, colors, finish, etc. from your local paper merchant. 24# is usually ideal for converting into envelopes
Booklet – any open side (opens on the long dimension) envelope constructed with 2 side seams and a square seal flap (usually 2” on envelopes 6 x 9” or larger, and proportionately smaller on envelopes less than 6” in height. Advantages are that it can be automatically inserted (unlike a open end such as a 9 x 12 catalog).
Brightness – the capacity of paper to reflect light. The higher the # the better. Most 24# white wove envelope paper has a brightness of between 92 and 94.
BRE – Business Reply envelope. This nomenclature specifically refers to a USPS approved format that allows a mailer to receive First-Class Mail without postage, back from customers by paying the postage and fees on receipt of the mail pieces.
Bulk Pack – the practice of putting envelopes directly into a carton without being first put into an inside box (usually of 500). Saves raw materials and the filling of land fills, but can be detrimental to long term storage of envelopes unless the carton size and envelope fit are tightly coordinated.
Cartons – a master container usually made of 100 # (?) brown (unbleached) fluted corrugated stock.
Center Seam – refers to the construction of an envelope that has a seam down the middle of its back, and across the bottom. This construction is preferred for making envelopes that open on the narrow (short) dimension, called open end envelopes, but can also be used for making open side envelopes.
Chipboard – refers to cardboard type material used for making folding boxes. These boxes have little structural integrity unless they are filled with the correct size envelope, in which case they become like bricks.
Clasp – a metal seal flap closing device meant for repeated opening and closing. Somewhat replaced by reusable Latex seal &/or peerless tac.
Coated Paper – paper that is made with a clay coated surface on one (C1S) or both (C2S) sides of the sheet to enhance its appearance and printing qualities. Finish can range from dull (or matt) to a high gloss. For good folding characteristics the caliper must be a minimum of .004” for C1S, and 0045” for C2S.
Coins – small open end envelopes, usually made with center and bottom seams.
Commercial – the most common style of envelope used in the USA. Open side (opens on the long dimension) and made with diagonal seams.
Converting – refers to the practice of making envelopes from sheets of paper supplied by a printer, paper merchant, or end user.
Corner Card – the return address (logo, typeset, or both) of the sender located in the upper left corner of the envelope. Usually 3/8” from the left, and 3/8” from the top (of a #10).
Courtesy Reply – Business Reply Mail that, unlike BRE, requires the recipient to pay the reply/return postage.
Cross Grain – grain going 90 degrees to the direction it should. When paper is made it is formed with its grain (the orientation of the cellulose fibers that give paper its strength) all going in the same direction. When envelopes are die cut out of the sheet into blanks, it is critical that the grain go correctly. Cross grain envelopes have the grain going perpendicularly to the correct direction, which can create excessive seal flap curl and puckering of the glued seams.
Cylinder Die Cutting – refers to using a beefy horizontal printing press with a mounted steel rule die for cutting envelope shapes one sheet at a time. Time consuming, but for intricate shapes and small quantity, it is often a cost effective solution.
Deckle Edge – Refers to an envelope made from paper which was formed with deckle, or rough, edges. The envelope die is overhung off the sheet as the blanks are cut in order to preserve the deckled edge.
Diagonal Seam – the most common form of envelope construction.
Die Cutting – the process of cutting a lift of paper (usually 200-300 sheets) into envelope blanks with a sharp steel die that is approximately 4” high. An envelope die costs approximately $1100, and can be avoided by using adjustable blades, or cylinder die cutting.
Die – a precision made cutting tool, forged into the desired shape for cutting envelopes.
Doorknob hang-up envelopes – envelopes made expressly to be hung up on a door knob, for a variety of reasons: bill payment, fund-raising, delivery info, We manufacture and inventory these in white and colors, in addition to weather proof paper for leaving them hanging outside!
Duotone – a printing technique for obtaining a multi color results by holding the halftone dots in very close register.
Ears – malformation of one or more corners of an envelope caused by the top or side score being out of position.
Electronic art – Digital art used for graphic arts reproduction.(usually sent via e-mail or removable media).
Embossing – a process for raising paper to form a pattern, usually done with pressure and heat at slow revolutions per minute. However, simple patterns can be embossed at high speeds on some folding machines as the envelope is being formed.
Expansion envelope – envelopes made with a gusset on all 4 sides to accommodate thickness. The degree of expansion can range from 1/2” to 3”.
Note: when an envelope’s contents are thicker than 1/4” and you wish to avoid paying for an expansion envelope, be sure to allow more than the normal amount of room or the contents will not fit. When you talk about expansion envelopes you are not talking about “normal” envelopes, and stock sizes, vs. custom are the only cost effective, time friendly, way to go.
Face – the front of the envelope.
FIM – facing identification marks. A pattern of vertical bars printed in the upper right portion of the mail piece just to the left of the indicia, used to identify the piece’s orientation.
Finish – surface properties of paper. They include smoothness, gloss, absorption, texture, hold-out. Common finishes include wove (#1 for envelopes), laid, linen, vellum.
Flexography – letterpress printing (the actual plate that does the printing comes in contact with the paper being printed) that can be either water or alcohol based. 65-85 line screen, vs. 110-130 for offset. Quality is improving all the time, and for volume, commodity envelope production, flexo is the way to go.
Glassine – older style window film that is 100% green. Biodegrades quickly, but also is hygroscopic and takes on moisture if stored in a humid area. Poor readability at the USPS. Relatively short shelf life (we recommend storing for not more than 6 months, and even then the relative humidity must be low controlled.
Grade – refers to kind of paper vs. substance weight.
Grain – orientation of the fibers in the sheet of paper being cut into envelopes. In booklet and center and bottom seam style envelopes it is critical that the grain goes straight from the top to the bottom of the envelope. Interestingly, grain direction is not important with diagonal seam envelopes. All paper tears easily and relatively straight with the grain, conversely across.
Gripper – the leading edge, or gripped edge, of paper as it is pulled through the cylinders of a printing press. In general sheet fed offset presses use mechanical grippers, envelope machines use a combination of pusher pins and vacuum to move an envelope blank.
Guide edge – the edge of the sheet that rubs against the side of the press to get its left/right positioning.
Gum – another name for the adhesive used for seal flaps and seams. Years ago this was animal (horse) derived, but now is starch or resin based.
Holes – opposite problem from ears, but also created by top and bottom scores or side seam scores being misadjusted.
Hitchhiker – a 2-way envelope for imprinting on small presses. Size: 10” x 9-1/8” flat; 4-1/2″ x 9-1/8” in the mail; 3-3/4″ x 9-1/8” return envelope. 4-1/2″ x 9-1/8” order form and 1-1/8” x 9-1/8” customer receipt.
Indicia – A postal mark used on address labels or bulk mail (usually printed in the upper right corner on the face of an envelope) as a substitute for stamps.
Inside side seams – seam construction of an open side envelope where the back seam folds on top of the small 1” (usually) seams that form the envelope.
Inside tint – the printing of an opaque design on the inside of an envelope to increase its opacity, and stop peeping eyes from reading what’s inside the envelope. By step-and-repeating a logo as the design, the security tint can also become an attractive addition to a company’s print media.
Kraft – grade of paper that is stronger than wove, generally at commodity pricing levels. Available in white and brown.
Latex – adhesive used to stick seal flaps down by pressing the latex seal flap against the latex on the body of the envelope. Latex sticks to latex, but nothing else. Shelf life is not more than year. Adhesion is quickly and adversely affected by dust.
Lettershop Services – folding, stuffing, address imprinting, sorting (for maximum postal discount), postage applying and mailing of direct mail.
Litho – another term for offset printing. The plate with the image comes in contact with a blanket (originally a flat stone) which then contacts the paper.
Litho converting refers to the making of envelopes from printed sheets previously imprinted with the images of anywhere from 1 to 50 envelopes which are then die cut into the proper envelope and folded into an envelope. Before cutting can begin, care must be taken to ensure that the printing images are completely dry.
M – Roman numeral for 1,000, which is the common quantity and pricing count for envelopes (e.g. “5M” represents 5,000 envelopes).
Opacity – property of paper that governs the degree to which light can pass through. The more opaque, the more difficult it is to see what is inside the envelope. The printing of an inside tint can increase opacity.
Open End – an envelope that opens on the short dimension. Construction can be center and bottom seam, single side seam, or even 2 side seams.
Open Side – an envelope that opens on the long dimension. Usually 2 side seam construction (with 1” side seams), but can also be center and bottom seams.
Open face window – window cut-out, also called a mortise, that has no covering. In envelope making there is no reason for this, as the savings in material cost are offset by a reduction in folding speeds.
Patch material – refers to the window covering material such as Polystyrene, Trycite (clear) or glassine (cloudy, hydroscopic and biodegradable).
Peel and Seal – adhesive which is exposed by peeling away a release strip, and which will then stick to just about anything. FedEx pack, as an example.
pH – the degree of acidity or alkalinity measured on a scale of 0 to 17, with 7 being neutral, and 14 being highly acidic.
Recycled paper – paper which contains post-consumer fiber. Almost all paper is now made with some amount of post-consumer content.
Seams – the overlapping pieces of an envelope that hold it together. The alternative to seams is welded seams, wherein one sheet of paper is glued directly (welded) to the next. In this case the inside dimension of the envelope is foreshortened by 3/4” (3/8” on both ends).
Split seal gumming – refers to the practice of eliminating seal gum from that area of the seal flap that comes in contact with the diagonal seam that runs underneath it. At that point, because of the additional ply of paper created by the seam plus the seal flap, there is an increased tendency for the seal flaps to stick during storage. This is called tabbing, and can readily happen in areas of high humidity, or when the storage period is excessively long (a year or more).
Stamp ready – the seal gum is stopped short of the area where a postage stamp is placed in order to keep the seal flap from inadvertently tacking when the stamp is applied.
Storage for envelopes – a cool, dry, well-ventilated place not on concrete. Low humidity. Envelopes should be stored standing on edge, in full boxes and cartons, rather than flat which induces warping.
String and Button – a method of holding a seal flap down for envelopes with repeated use, such as interdepartmental mail. Supplanted by Peerless Tac, and in some cases Velcro.Tabbing which is a visual/physical way of keeping count by inserting a small paper tab at every 100th envelope. Adds a little to the cost per 1,000 envelopes, but is an effective way to keep track of the qty. of envelopes being used.
Throat – The distance between the seal flap fold line and the top of the back panel.
Tyvek® – Dupont’s Spunbonded olefin that has become the standard material for wrapping houses, so there is no question about it’s durability or strength. It is so light that it can often save having to pay for an additional ounce of postage. However, it is difficult to fold or automatically insert as it lacks stiffness. Has a distinct Tyvek® feel.
Vellum – a commodity grade paper which has the good folding characteristics of wove, but a toothier feel.
Wallet flap – a rectangular seal flap with either square or rounded corners.
Wove – the most common grade of paper used in envelope manufacturing. Smooth finish.
Watermark – a mark put in paper by a dandyroll when the paper is still wet and being rolled onto a log (parent) roll. Watermarks can be a design that belongs to the paper manufacturer or it can serve as the private logo of the company for whom the paper was made. “Strathmore 24 Rag Content” is a watermark familiar to most printers.