Direct Mail Terms

Below you will find more terms and information about direct mail. The nicest thing about this list is that you really never have to know anything about it. That's what Alert Direct Mail is here for.

AADC - Automated Area Distribution Center - A USPS Area Distribution Center that uses a variety of sophisticated optical character readers, barcode sorters, and other high speed equipment for processing automation compatible bulk mail.

Address List - A digital list of addresses utilized for mailing. The list may be in a wide variety of formats such as those used in Spreadsheets, Databases, Word Processors, and Personal Information Managers.

Address Service Requested - One of several processes offered by the USPS to provide change-of-address information to mailers. With this endorsement, months 1 through 12 after the addressee has moved, the mail piece will be forwarded at no charge. Months 13 - 18, the mail piece will be returned with the new address attached. After 18 months, the mail piece will be returned. Past month 13 a fee is charged per letter mail piece returned.

APO - Army Post Office The military post office address code for addresses located outside the continental United States for either Army or Air Force personnel. See FPO for US Navy & Marines.

Aspect Ratio - The dimension of a mail piece expressed as a ratio of length (the direction parallel to the address) divided by height. An aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5, inclusive, is required for automation compatibility.

ASS - Address Sequencing Service Service offered by the USPS to sequence your mailing list when you provide a 3x5 index card for each address. Alert Direct Mail digitally perform the same service quickly and efficiently for a small charge per name.

Automation Compatible Mail - Mail that can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment such as an optical reader or barcode scanner.

Barcode - A string of vertical bars that represent numeric information. Barcodes are used by the USPS to automate mail handling thereby reducing cost, speeding delivery, and improving accuracy. Also see IM, POSTNET and DPBC.

Barcode Clear Zone - A rectangular area in the lower right part of a letter size mail piece that must be kept free of printing and symbols, except the barcode itself.

Base Cost - The basic cost per name for address lists excluding any demographic selections. Normally stated in dollars per thousand records (names/addresses). Multi-use lists are charged at 1.5 to double the base cost.

BMC - Bulk Mail Center - A USPS regional center for processing Standard (A), Standard (B), and Periodical bulk mailings. BMC's are highly automated and are the key element in the distribution chain for bulk mail.

BRM - Business Reply Mail - Reply mail that uses a Business Reply Permit to return mail at no charge to the addressee. Widely used for surveys, product registration cards, and inquiry requests as examples. Reply mail has very specific layout requirements that normally require pre-approval by the USPS. See FIM.

COD - Collect On Delivery - A service offered by the USPS , and other shippers, where an item may shipped and payment for the item is collected upon delivery and returned to the shipper.

Change Service Requested - An ancillary service offered by the USPS. A separate notice of new address or reason for non-delivery is returned to the sender. The mail piece is disposed of by the USPS. A fee is charged per piece.

Co-mingle - A process where different kinds of mail are mixed together and sorted by destination address in order to generate savings in postage.

CRRT - Carrier Route - A mail delivery route defined for a USPS postal carrier. Reduced postage rates are offered for bulk mailers who sort their mail by carrier route and thereby save the post office processing time. There are several "schemes" for carrier route sorts that offer different discounts on postage.

DBMC - Destination Bulk Mail Center - A postage rate available on some categories of Standard Mail. The mail must be properly presorted delivered by the mailer to the appropriate BMC that serves the delivery address on the mail.

DDU - Destination Delivery Unit - A bulk mail postage rate available for Enhanced Carrier Route sorted mail only. Mail must be sorted to Line-of-Travel at a minimum.

Demographic Selections - A range of selectors available to use when specifying an address list. Demographic selectors may include age, income, gender, and special interests such a mail order buyers, credit card holders, etc.

Direct Mail - Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted prospects or markets. Direct mail can be sent via any postage rate but is usually sent Standard (A).

DMM - Domestic Mail Manual - The USPS manual that contains the basic regulations governing domestic mail services; descriptions of the mail classes and services and conditions controlling their uses; and standards for rate eligibility and mail preparation. Domestic mail is classified by size, weight, content, service, and other factors.

DPBC - Delivery Point Barcode - A POST NET barcode that consists of 62 bars with beginning and ending frame bars and 5 bars each for the nine digits of the ZIP +4 code, the last 2 digits of the primary street address number (or post office box, etc.), and a correction digit. The DPBC allows automated sorting of mail to the carrier level in walk sequence. (Note: POSTNET barcode phased out in 2011, replaced by IM barcode.)

Drop Shipment - Typically the movement of a mailer's product on private (non-postal) transportation from the point of production to a postal facility located closer to the destination of that product.

DSCF - Destination Sectional Center Facility - A rate available for Standard Mail (A) and Periodicals that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the sectional center facility (SCF) that serves the delivery address on the mail.

ECRLOT- Enhanced Carrier Route - (Line of Travel) Mailings in which pieces must be part of a group of 10 or more to one carrier route, prepared in line of travel sequence. The mailing list must be CASS certified within the past 3 months and pre-sorted with PAVE certified software. LOT mail is sorted in the order in which the carrier actually delivers the mail.

EMM - Extended Managed Mail Tray 2-foot letter trays that measure 21 3/4" long by 11 1/2" wide and 6 1/8" high. Must be used for letter sized mail that are too tall for standard MM trays.

Endorsement - An authorized marking on a mail piece that shows handling instructions, a service, or a request for an ancillary service.

Enhanced Carrier Route - A rate class for Standard (A) mail that requires the mail pieces to be pre-sorted by Line-of-Travel, High Density, or Walk Sequence. Usually provides the greatest postage discounts.

FCM - First-Class Mail - A class of mail that includes all matter wholly or partly in writing or typewriting, all actual and personal correspondence, all bills and statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection.

FIM - Facing Identification Mark - A series of five or six vertical bars used by automated postal equipment to identify, orient, and separate business reply mail. FIM's are required in a precise location the upper right corner of business reply mail. See the USPS "Notice 67" template for the exact layout requirements.

Flat - The general term for flat sized mail. In Standard (A) mail a flat is a mail piece that is larger than 11 1/2" length and 6 1/8" width. The rate schedule also varies based on the weight of the mail piece.

FPO - Fleet Post Office - A military post office that serves the operating forces of the US Navy and Marine Corps. The geographic location of shore stations is identified by ZIP Code; for operating forces, the ZIP Code identifies the unit but not the location.

Full Letter Tray - An MM or EMM letter tray filled at least ¾ full with faced, upright mail pieces

Geographical Selection - Term used when renting address/mailing lists to specify the physical area to be covered. Must address lists may be selected by Zip code, County, City, Metro Area, or State. Some lists may be selected in a Radius around a certain Carrier Route or Zip Code.

IM - Intelligent Mail - Three "state" or level bar code that is read by optical scanning equipment along, above and below the horizontal, to include primary and secondary address and mailer information. Can be used with various supplemental services to track mail piece from entry point in mail stream through delivery. IM bar codes replaced Postnet bar codes in 2011 and are required to receive automation discount postage rates.

IMM - International Mail Manual - The USPS manual that contains classification regulations and other requirements for mailing between the United States and other countries.

Indicia - Imprinted designation on mail that denotes postage payment. The indicia must contain the Class of postage (i.e. First Class, Presorted Std), the words US Postage, & Paid, the post office city where the permit is held, and the number of the permit. The indicia should be placed where a stamp would normally be placed. See Permit.

Irregular Parcel - A mail processing category for a parcel that does not meet the dimensions of a machinable parcel.

Keyline - Optional mailer information printed in or above the address or in the lower left corner of the envelope. Under some postage payment systems, the key line is a required line that contains specific information about the mail piece.

LACs - A service that converts "old style" addresses such as rural routes to the new federally mandated "city style" street address.

Letter Mail Piece - In Standard (A), a mail piece that is less than 6 1/8" x 11 1/2" in size, less than 1/4' thick, and weighs less than 3.2873oz. Letter piece must also have an aspect ration 0f 1.3 to 2.5 inclusive. See Aspect Ratio.

LOT - Line of Travel - A presort for Enhanced Carrier Route rates in which mail pieces are arranged by zip+4 and other codes in the order in which the route is served by the carrier. The mail pieces are sequenced in delivery order.

LTRS - Letters - A code used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as letter-size mail (mail, including cards, that do not exceed any parameter for letter mail)

Merge/Purge - The process of combining separate address lists and removing duplicate records, also known as de-duping.

MFDU - Multi Family Dwelling units. The acronym used with address lists for apartments type dwellings.

MLOCR- Multi Line Optical - Character Reader A machine that reads and analyses multiple lines of the delivery address on a mail piece. This machine can read the address, print the delivery point barcode, verify that the information is correct and sort it at very high speeds.

Move Update - Processing your list through an approved NCOA correction service to qualify for the USPS regulations. This process updates your address list with the NCOA addresses to ensure that your list is as current as possible.

NCOA - National Change of Address - An address correction service that the USPS provides to mailers through USPS licensees. Alert Direct Mail matches mailing lists submitted to us against change-of-address information for the entire country from all Computerized Forwarding System units. This process allows a mailer to maintain the accuracy of a list used for repeat mailings over time.

Nixie - A record that was compared against an NCOA file and was found to be an "almost" match. A code will be returned with the record explaining where the discrepancy was found.

Non-Profit Standard Mail - A class of Standard Mail available to organizations that have been approved by the USPS for nonprofit mailings. To be approved for nonprofit mailing an organization must go to the USPS office in their city and complete a PS Form 3624. The organization will receive a letter in 10-14 days from USPS approving or denying their nonprofit status.

OCR - Optical Character Reader - An automated mail sorting machine that interprets the address information on a letter-size mail piece and sprays the corresponding ZIP Code information onto the piece as a barcode. The OCR consists of a mail feed unit, transport unit, stacker modules, computer with a control system, video monitor, and printer.

Parsing - The process of standardizing name and address fields. Normally refers to breaking combined fields into separate fields such as a full address field into street number and street name fields.

PAVE - Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation - A voluntary program in which the USPS provides testing for certain categories of presort software and hardware products to determine their accuracy in sorting address information according to Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) standards and producing standardized supporting documentation.

Periodicals - A class of mail (formerly called second-class) consisting of magazines, newspapers, or other publications formed of printed sheets that are issued at least four times a year at regular, specified intervals (frequency) from a "known office of publication." Periodicals usually must have a list of subscribers and/or requesters, as appropriate.

Post Card - A specific piece of mail measuring (max) 4.25" high x 6" wide. A sub-category of the post card is the double post card, 8.5" high x 6" wide and folded to the 4.25" height. Fold must be along the bottom and piece must be closed with a wafer seal. When designing post cards particular care must be exercised for placement of the address and bar code. Post cards are first class mail only. Similar size pieces may be designated as standard mail but they are not considered "post cards."

POSTNET- Postal Numeric Encoding Technique - The barcode system for encoding the delivery point information and ZIP +4 code information on letter-size and flat-size mail pieces. Also see Im and DPBC

Presort Levels - Terms used for presort levels are defined as follows:

  • Firm - All pieces for delivery at the address shown on the top piece of a package or bundle.
  • Carrier Route - All pieces for delivery on the same city route, rural route, highway contract route, post office box section, or general delivery unit.
  • 5-digit - The delivery address on all pieces includes the same 5-digit ZIP Code.
  • 3-digit - The ZIP Code in the delivery address on all pieces begins with the same three digits.
  • Unique 3-digit - The ZIP Code in the delivery address on all pieces begins with the same three digits as one of the 3-digit areas identified.
  • 3-digit/scheme - The ZIP Code on the delivery address on all pieces begins with one of the 3-digit prefixes processed by the USPS as a single scheme (see L003) and that, subject to standard, may be presorted together as a single group.
  • Entry SCF 3-digit(s) - The ZIP Code in the delivery addresses off all pieces begins with one of the 3-digit prefixes processed at the postal facility in whose service area the mailer is located.
  • SCF - The separation includes pieces for two or more 3-digit areas served by the same SCF.
  • ADC/AADC - All pieces are addressed for delivery in the service area of the same ADF or AADC.
  • ASF/BMC - All pieces are addressed for delivery in the service area of the same ASF or BMC.
  • DDU - Pieces sorted to and entered at the Destination Delivery Unit Mixed (BMC, AADC, etc.) - The pieces are for more than one presort destination.
  • Residual (pieces/packages/sacks) - Mail that is left over after completion of a presort sequence. Residual mail, which lacks the volume set by standard to require or permit package or bundle preparation to a particular destination, usually does not qualify for a presort rate. (Also called non-qualifying or working mail.

Radius List - The Resident, Consumer, and other selected address lists may be selected by a radius around a given carrier route or zip code. The radius may be based on a given quantity or a specified distance. Excellent technique for Retail or other businesses where geographic proximity is key to likely new prospects.

Return Service Requested - An endorsement that requests the USPS to return an undelivered mail piece with the new address or the reason for non-delivery.

Rural Route - A delivery route served by a rural carrier. For walk sequence presorts abbreviated addresses are permitted by USPS. The abbreviated addresses such as those contained in "Resident" address lists do not include a box number and are not sufficient addresses for any other class of mail.

SCF - Sectional Center Facility - A postal facility that serves as the processing and distribution center (P&DC) for post offices in a designated geographic area as defined by the first three digits of the ZIP Codes of those offices. Some SCF's serve more than one 3-digit ZIP Code range.

SFDU - Single Family Dwelling Unit. An acronym used with address lists for single family homes

Sleeve - A paperboard jacket that fits over the four sides of a letter tray in order to keep the mail in the tray during shipment. When preparing trays for Standard (A) mail the trays must be strapped before presentation to the USPS.

Standard Mail (A) - matter that weighs less than 16 ozs. It comprises the subclasses of Regular & Nonprofit Standard Mail, and Enhanced Carrier Route mail. Standard (A) may be sent at presorted rates and automation rates.

USPS - United States Postal Service - The quasi-branch of the government which supports and supplies all national mail services under the private express statute.

Walk Sequence - The order in which a carrier delivers mail for a route. This order provides the greatest postage discounts.

ZIP CODE - Zone Improvement Plan Code - Established in 1963, the system of 5-digit codes that identifies the individual post office or metropolitan area delivery station associated with an address. ZIP +4 is an enhanced code consisting of the 5-digit ZIP Code and four additional digits that identify a specific range of delivery addresses.

ZIP+4 - Zip Plus 4 - The four digit zip extension

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