One of the most common questions about self-mailers is where do the tabs go? The second one is do I have to use tabs? Since tabbing requirements can be confusing let’s go over when, where, and how to use tabs. You can always to go the USPS site to get information directly from them. However, many clients find them hard to understand.
Where to tab?
First, there are two kinds of folds, horizontal and vertical. Where you tab will depend on the type of fold. Folding requirements are very strict so make sure to adhere to them. You also need to consider the weight of your mailer. If tabbing: up to 1-oz. mailer needs two 1″ tabs, mailers over 1 ounce need two 1.5″ tabs and if you are using perforations or inserts it needs two 2″ tabs.
- Horizontal folds: the final fold is below the mail panel. This can be an 8.5×11″ half folded, an 11×17″ half folded and half folded again and so on. If you use the 11×17″ keep in mind that the first half fold needs to be to the right of the mail panel, the second below it. This will require two tabs above the mail panel.
- Vertical folds: the final fold is to the right of the mail panel. This can be a 6×20″ folded in half to a 6×10″, a 5×28″ roll folded to a 5×7″ and so on. Keep in mind the final fold needs to be to the right of the mail panel. This will require two on the left of the mail panel.
Can I glue instead of tab?
Yes. If fugitive gluing, use a continuous glue line of 1/8 inch wide or glue spots of 3/8 inch diameter, 3 to 4 spots in place of where you would be putting your tabs. As an example, on a horizontal fold you will have two above the mail panel. On a vertical fold you will have two to the left. The benefit of using glue is that it is easier to open the mailer and has a nice clean look. The downside is that you cannot use it with a quarter fold of 11 x 17 to 5.5 x 8.5 because you have multiple panels. What you can do in this instance is to create a short panel final fold to glue closed.
Can I staple my self-mailer?
No. As soon as you add a staple, the post office considers that a binding and your self-mailer just became a booklet. Booklet tabbing requirements are different than self-mailers.
Do flats require tabs?
No. Flat size self-mailers do not require tabs. Keep in mind though that flat size mail is more postage and delivers slower than letter size mail.
What size can my self-mailer be?
Your height is 3.5″ min, 6″ max. Your length is 5″ min, 10.5″ max.
Where does the mail panel go?
Depending on where you fold, your mail panel can be in several spots. On an 8.5×11″ folded to 5.5×8.5″ your mail panel will be in the top half. On an 8.5×11″ folding to 3.33×8.5″ your mail panel will be the center panel. On an 11×17″ folded to 5.5×8.5″ your mail panel will be the top left panel.
Your best bet is to design your self-mailer and then send a pdf to your direct mail provider, to have them find any problems with the design. They can help to make sure you are automation compliant and save on postage. As you are going through the process, do not let it stop your creativity. It is the unique and creative pieces that get the recipients attention and increase your ROI. Do not let these regulations limit your design. There are plenty of ways to create self-mailers that standout and get attention! Contact your mail provider for samples and suggestions.