Glossary of Terms

A list of commonly used industry related terms

A 2 dimensional barcode.

Printing requiring 4 colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (CMYK)

594mm × 841mm

420mm × 594mm

297mm × 420mm

210mm × 297mm

148mm × 210mm

105mm × 148mm

Airmail is the overseas letter service of Royal Mail available on Public Tariff mail.

The dimension of a mail piece expressed as a ratio of height to length.

That little piece of paper on the back of an envelope that gets removed via perforation and is another opportunity to get your advertising message seen. Commonly seen on credit card envelopes that are included with your monthly invoice.

The clear zone on the lower part of an envelope that must be kept free of printing and symbols except for the barcode itself.

A series of vertical full bars and half bars representing Post Code information relative to the address on the mail piece.

Batch Processing describes the processing of items accumulated over a period (days/week/month) such as coupon response, cheque handling etc., as opposed to processing on a day to day basis. Normally used as an expression within Data Processing but can be applied to any type of commercial activity.

Used to describe a process that has not been mechanized. The actions required – applying self-adhesive labels, inserting magazines into polythene envelopes, belly banding etc are performed by hand.

A service of Royal Mail whereby mail may be sent to a business without the necessity to write the full postal address. The format is usually — Company Name, PO Box ???, Town, Postcode.

Business Reply Card Business Reply Envelope. A service where a pre-addressed reply envelope is pre-printed with a business address which is used in mailings for the recipient’s use in responding. The design is strictly controlled and must conform to rules laid down by Royal Mail. A Business Reply Service Contract is set up with an initial fee paid for by the applicant and a surcharge on the Postage incurred.

The process of separating continuous forms.

General phrase to cover all types of promotional mailings and communications between companies and businesses.

917mm × 1297mm

648mm × 917mm

458mm × 648mm

324mm × 458mm

229mm × 324mm

162mm × 229mm

114mm × 162mm

A sheet of paper that is inserted into a polybag or is polywrapped. It usually contains a personalised address and PPI. Carrier is the term for any piece of paper or printed material which is used to ‘carry’ the address of the recipient. The address on the carrier sheet will normally show through a window or the polythene.

These types of labels look like normal white computer paper. A special machine, called the Cheshire machine can cut this paper into label sized strips (usually 3 5/16″ × 1″) and glue them onto mailing pieces. Not used much now as it has been superseded by Inkjetting.

One that is up to date and free of duplication and unwanted names/addresses.

To put together a number of items. Some customers restrict use of this word to cover the collation of items in a specific order.

Mailings directed to private individuals at their home address.

The mail package format/creative that’s done the best for you; the one that’s yielded the greatest response.

Using the folder to make two or more folds in one operation — for example A3 to A4 then A4 to A5.

(CBC) Customer Bar coding is the name given by Royal Mail to the inclusion of the Postcode on an envelope, letter or label in the form of a bar code. This code can then be ‘read’ by automatic sorting machinery. There are very strict limits on the printing of a customer bar code. Only laser printing is acceptable.

The entry of data records onto a computer file.

Improving the quality of the data i.e. Changing the casing of the data, improving the post code, breaking up the salutation field into Title Initial Surname, and much more! Call us if you need some help.

Entering names and addresses into a computer one at a time from printed or hand written material.

Covers the actions taken by the Computer Department on data files such as sortation, file formatting, generating salutations, suppression, deduplication etc.

1984 Act of Parliament guaranteeing certain rights to individuals and control of the use of personal data held on a computer. The most well known of the rights is that of examining a computer record held by a company by the individual in the data record.

An individual entry within a computer file containing – in mailing terms – the name and address plus demographic data of the person named within the record. A group of records makes a data file.

An accuulation of data. It can cover many different types of information including names and addresses and other demographic information.

Can be as simple as a card file; a collection of information stored in a computer medium that can be easily accessed and manipulated.

The comparison of records in a data file to remove recurrences of the same address/person. This can be done in a number of ways. Examples would be by comparing the initials, surname and postcode of records and deleting records which match. A more precise process can be achieved if the address has been through Postal Address File enhancement and creating a match string. Other methods exist.

A description of data contained within records which helps to classify the person or company in different ways. Information is often held by a code attached to the record. The classic teaching example is to imagine records which contain a code which shows the person to be left-handed (code ‘L’ is placed in the record. There is also a code which shows if the person has red hair (code ‘R’). Demographic analysis would show the number of Left-handed Red-heads by counting all the records containing both codes ‘L’ and ‘R’ and rejecting any that only contained one (or none) of them. Naturally in reality, the system can become very complex, but the principles remain.

A personally addressed piece of mailing promoting a company’s products or services Direct Mailing – Marketing or advertising activity, based on a direct relationship.

110mm 220mm landscape

The Direct Marketing Association. The ‘trade body’ of the Direct Marketing Industry. Formed in 1997 from a variety of Regulatory Bodies and Trade Associations, the DMA is now the principal organisation covering the affairs of our industry.

In Laser printing, printed on both sides of the page.

Envelope used for 1/3 A4 mailing. Can also be oversize and undersize. The undersize can be used to put a BRE in a DL envelope. Oversize DL envelopes assist in the mailing production buy giving a larger clearance.

Size to fit an A5 piece of paper or 1/2 A4

Size to fit A4 items

An official body which registers the names and email addresses of those who do not wish to receive unsolicited email.

Data in computer records is held in fields. Each field contains an item of information. For example a persons name could be stored in 3 fields. The first contains the Title (Mr/Mrs/Miss etc) the second the Forename or Initial (Fred/Mary/I.F.G. etc) and the 3rd field the surname. Having data in separate fields makes data processing easier.

Preparing a data file for data processing.

The collection of all letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. within a certain size and style.

Flexography’ (often abbreviated to flexo) is a form of printing process which utilizes a flexible relief plate. It is basically an updated version of letterpress that can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate including plastic, metallic films, cellophane, and paper. It is widely used for printing on the non-porous substrates required for various types of food packaging (it is also well suited for printing large areas of solid color).

The application of a postal indicia by printing from a printing plate through a specially designed machine.

Differs from BRE in that Royal Mail do NOT require a specifically printed envelope. Contracts are set up in a similar manner to Business Reply but with a different charging structure.

 A company specializing in responding to and tracking orders sold through Direct Mail.

The “Gone Away Register”. A suppression file made available from information supplied to the major Mail Order Catalogue Houses.

A type of fold where both sides of a piece get folded inward so the edges come together.

Machine for cutting paper material to precise sizes.

A type of envelope. The sides have an extra strip of paper material between front and back to increase the capacity of the envelope.

Term used to describe the delivery of mail by distributors other than Royal Mail. Hand delivery contractors are also used in certain overseas countries as an alternative to local postal systems.

A method of printing via a computer. Addresses are inkjet printed onto paper and polythene. The Inkjet printer works by squirting a jet of very fine droplets of ink onto the paper in a pattern determined by a computer.

A method of addressing an envelope or card or other item. The machine is connected to a computer and can personalise and add graphics to a mailing piece.

Any item, such as a brochure or pamphlet, that is placed in a Direct Mail package.

Generally a corrugated, padded or bubble bag often used to mail an article that needs protection, such as a cassette or video tape.

Reducing space between characters. Negative letter spacing.

A ‘view’ of a publication where the longer side is at the top.

As Laser labels, except these are translucent in appearance.

Laser labels are also known as pressure sensitive sheet fed labels. Basically, the labels peel off a backing and stick onto another surface, and each sheet of labels is independent of each other.

Printing from a computer to paper. This is a high quality method of printing and is, when done properly, indistinguishable from expert typing. Letters produced on a laser printer do not look as if they have been mass produced. Laser printing can be in colour as well as black/white.

The arrangement of text blocks, headlines and graphics on a page.

Piece is folded inwards from both sides in such a way so that they overlap each other. When completed the writing of the front page is folded facing inwards.

Piece is folded inwards from both sides in such a way so that they overlap each other. When completed the writing of the front page is folded facing outwards.

Paper printed with the company details used for letters and communications. Paper is typically 80-100gsm bond.

A company that personalises, labels, sorts and stuffs envelopes in preparation for mailing.

A database of people based on a questionnaire covering all aspects of their lives including Income, Housing, Family, Education, Sports and Activities etc. Capable of extensive profiling and targeting.

A folded sheet that is a “last chance” to deliver an advertising message. Usually written by a person other than the main writer of the letter. Good place for a testimonial.

In mailing house terms, a list of people to whom mail is sent. Lists of customers and prospective customers are bought and sold by Direct Mailers.

An individual or company that brings together owners of lists and the Direct Mailers who use them.

An individual or company that specializes in gathering names, addresses and information from a variety of sources to produce a customized list of prospective customers.

A company which holds a customer’s file, updates, adds and deletes records as required and produces copies, selections etc., from the list according to the instructions received from the owner.

A company whose customer/prospect list is available on the List market.

 A “normal” stamp which a consumer would use, as opposed to metered mailings.

An envelope that is machinable. The flap is gummed and on the long edge of the envelope.

The process of inserting material into envelopes by machine rather than by hand.

A list of addresses to be mailed.

The personalisation of a mailing piece by inserting the address and other data into a mailing letter at the laser printing stage.

Personally addressed advertising sent through the post.

A method of posting UK mail at a discount by sorting the addresses into Postcode Groups according to a complex list designed by Royal Mail. Mailsort is available as Mailsort 1 and Mailsort 2 (1st and 2nd Class equivalent) and Mailsort 3 (7 – 10 days delivery).

The process of keeping together a unique insert to the addressee that goes with at least one other unique insert in the same package, or a unique insert to the addressee that goes with the address information located on the outside of the package. For example a personalized letter that needs to be matched with the address displayed on the outside of the envelope.

The process of combining two or more lists into a single one using the same sequential order, then sorting them together, usually by Company Name or Postcode.

The combining of one or more computer files and comparing them to eliminate duplicates. Can sometimes imply that MPS services are required.

An official body which registers the names and addresses of those who do not wish to receive unsolicited mail. The Mailing Preference Service regularly issues a list of these people in computer data format. Before a mailing list is sent, it can be compared to the MPS list and those not wishing to receive the mail can be excluded.

A suppression file which records details of home owners who have registered a change of address with Royal Mail and requested re-direction of mail.

To place a piece inside a part or all of another piece.

A computerised mail processing machine that scans addresses on mail and applies the proper barcode.

The envelope that your package will be delivered in. Usually, a “teaser” line is on the front to entice the recipient to open your letter.

A type of mailing which is formed from a single sheet of paper. Specialised machinery prints, personalises, folds and forms an envelope in one continuous process.

People who perform mailing operations – inserting items into envelopes, applying labels etc. at home in their own time. MCM Direct does not use home workers.

The portion of a print run that exceeds the quantity specified in the purchase order. Allow 2% on small mailings and 1% on larger runs (100,000+)

A data file containing the exact address of every property to which post can be delivered. The program which uses the data can correct addresses, allocate postcodes and DPS suffixes. It can also replace existing addresses with the Royal Mail preferred address format.

ISO paper sizes (plus rounded inch values):

‘A’ Range: The ‘A’ Range is the finished trimmed size of paper.

A7 105mm x 74mm
A6 148mm x 105mm
A5 210mm x 148mm
A4 297mm x 210mm
A3 420mm x 297mm
A2 594mm x 420mm
A1 841mm x 594mm
A0 1189mm x 841mm

‘B’ Range: The ‘B’ range is used for special applications, such as oversize documents and posters.

B7 125mm x 88mm
B6 176mm x 125mm
B5 250mm x 175mm
B4 353mm x 250mm
B3 500mm x 353mm
B2 707mm x 500mm
B1 1000mm x 707mm
B0 1414mm x 1000mm

‘C’ Range – Envelope Sizes: Connected to both envelopes and folders, the ‘C’ range allows ‘A’ sized items to be inserted.

C8 81mm x 57mm
C7 114mm x 81mm
C6 162mm x 144mm
C5 229mm x 162mm
C4 324mm x 229mm

American Quarto: American Quarto is normally used by USA based companies and is generally stated in inches.

11″ x 8.5″ (280mm x 216mm)

ISO Sizes – Untrimmed Stock

SRA Sheet Sizes: Known as the supplementary range, this sheet size offers greater flexibility in allowing for bleed, machine handling and finishing.

SRA6 160mm x 112mm
SRA5 225mm x 160mm
SRA4 320mm x 225mm
SRA3 450mm x 320mm
SRA2 640mm x 450mm
SRA1 900mm x 640mm
SRA0 1280mm x 900mm

RA Sheet Sizes: The ‘RA’ range allows for a 5% waste when finally trimmed. This range is not widely stocked due to the limitations in application.

RA6 152mm x 107mm
RA5 215mm x 152mm
RA4 305mm x 215mm
RA3 430mm x 305mm
RA2 610mm x 430mm
RA1 860mm x 610mm
RA0 1220mm x 860mm

Classic Series:

Large Post 419mm x 533mm
Demy 444mm x 572mm
Medium 457mm x 584mm
Royal 508mm x 635mm
Double Crown 508mm x 762mm

A colour matching system. A ‘Pantone’ colour is one where the mixture of basic colours is based on a specific formula. Therefore the specification of one of the 1000+ Pantone colours will lead to consistency of colour from more than one printer/supplier.

Company which delivers parcels through the UK. Parcelforce services are available to Mailing Houses on contract. Parcelforce belongs to the Post Office Group.


A class of mail consisting of magazines, newspapers, or other publications that are issued throughout the year at regular, specified intervals.

In Direct Mailing this term indicates that the letter/brochure/coupon or similar item sent out has been, in some way, made personal to the recipient. For example a letter addressed to ‘Dear ….’ or a coupon which has the name and address of the contact.

A document printed from a laser printer where each page has some form of personalisation such that each one is unique.

A typographical unit of measure equal to approximately 1/72″ (0.0138″).

An envelope made of polythene, either printed with a design or plain (transparent). Usually with a strip of self adhesive glue at the flap for sealing.

The act of inserting items into a polybag.

A method where a piece of flat polythene is wrapped around a mailing piece and sealed. Usually cheaper than polybagging

A ‘view’ of a publication where the shorter side is at the top as it is looked at naturally.

The Post Town in an address is the town where Royal Mail has the nearest distribution depot from which mail is delivered by the postman.

The series of letters and number which codes an address. Postcodes can cover a number of properties as well as a single destination. Postcodes are made up of Region (MK) District (42) Sector (7) Group (UA).

The symbol printed on mailing envelopes or polythene film to indicate that the postage is being paid through an account.

Stamps cancelled by printing across the face before they are sold to mailers.

The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that is sorted down to the finest extent required by the Post Office.

A service to publishers for the distribution of Magazines and Journals. Identical to Mailsort in preparation and distribution, but on a different scale of charges. Companies wishing to use this service have registered with Royal Mail and are required to conform to ‘rules’ regarding the proportion of Advertising to Editorial content.

Pressure sensitive type labels, peel off a backing and stick onto another surface, such as a mail piece. Continuous feed means the label pages are attached to each other and are fed through the printer by pin holes.

When a printing press has completed the actual printing there are still a number of steps before the finished product is ready. Cutting to size, making up the sections in page order, stapling or perfect binding etc. The process is called print finishing.

The 4 basic colours for printing half tone images. Magenta, Cyan , Yellow and Black. (Black is technically not one of the process colours but is included here for convenience).

Profiling is the action of applying selection criteria to a database. For example in a Lifestyle database selecting prospects with an income of over £30,000 living in a house worth over £250,000 in London and the Home Counties.

The term used to describe a sample of printing before the final production takes place.

The spacing of characters in a line where the space occupied by a character is proportional to the width of that character, as opposed to fixed spacing where every character occupies the same amount of space regardless of its actual width.

These are characteristics, habits, attitudes, lifestyle and behaviour patterns that can help you identify your audience, or eliminate names of those who aren’t.

The process of eliminating duplicates and/or unwanted names from one or more lists.

A standard required by Royal Mail in association with the Direct Marketing Association for recognition the service provided to direct mailers is of the highest standard. It is awarded to companies whose key staff have passed stringent examinations in Royal Mail products, preparation and presentation requirements and both the legal and voluntary code practices of the mailing industry. Check that your mailing house is approved.

A type of fold where a piece gets folded in half, and then in half again. Both folds are in the same direction.

A service where requests for literature and products come directly to us from the enquirer. The data capture of the details is carried out along with payment processing, and the packing and posting of the item is completed daily or by batch processing.

A key formula used with most databases. It lets direct marketers know the recency and frequency of purchasing, and the amount of money spent by the people in their database.

A type of fold where a mail piece gets folded in one direction, and then in another direction. E.g.. a 17×11 piece getting folded in half to 8 1/2×11 then folded in half (or in thirds), but in the opposite direction, so that the finished size is 8 1/2×5 1/2 (or 8 1/2×3 2/3).

A type of fold where one side of a piece gets folded inward and then folded inward again at least once more, like you are rolling a piece up.

Stapling a publication from the back to the centre.

The opening phrase of a letter. For example:%dd Dear Mr. Smith, Dear John, Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Customer etc.

An envelope which has glue in two places on the envelope. They are not machinable and must be sealed by hand.

A mail piece that mails without the use of an envelope. An example of this is an 8 1/2×11 sheet tri-folded, addressed and mailed by itself.

The short crosslines at the ends of the main strokes of letters in certain type styles.

The length of time before an item (such as a catalogue) becomes obsolete.

In Laser printing, printed on one side of the page only.

The misalignment or slant of a character, bar, line of characters, or barcode with respect to the bottom or top edge of the mail piece.

Data that is presented in a manner which allows it to be sorted into order without any extra processing. For example if the data contains the Postcode in the same position in each record, the data is sortable by Postcode. If not, the data will have to be processed to re-position the postcode so that it becomes sort able.

In Direct Mail, the arrangement of pieces in a bulk mailing by Post Code to facilitate processing and more reliable delivery.

Using information on one or more lists to remove duplication of specific names before a mailing, or to eliminate those undesirable names. Suppressed items are not generally mailed.

This file is collected in collaboration with local government registrars, law firms, hospitals and funeral directors throughout the UK within 7 days of a death.

This file is collected in collaboration with local registrars throughout the UK at the time a death is registered.

An official body with whom a member of the public can register as a person who does not wish to receive Sales or Marketing telephone calls at home.

The maintenance of records concerning various aspects of mailings, e.g., response rate, date mailed, location of respondents, etc.

A type of fold where the sides of a piece both get folded inward, usually one third of the length of the piece.

An individual or company that generates high-resolution text and graphics. The typesetter can produce the high-quality output needed to produce professional-looking printed matter.

A mailing which is sent to a private individual where there has been no request for the mail to be sent. There are complex definitions of what constitutes unsolicited mail.

A more detailed type of Mailsort where mail is pre-sorted to the Section and Group level in the Postcode. Used for very large consumer mailings.

A press that prints on rolls (or webs) of paper instead of single sheets.

A method of counting filled envelopes, leaflets, brochures etc. Normally a few items – 2, 5 or 10 according to the material – are carefully weighed. The whole consignment is then weighed and the total number of items calculated.

Areas on a page that have no printing on them.

Envelopes having an opening through which an address printed on an insert is visible.

Piece is folded inwards once and outwards once, like in the shape of a Z. Not recommended for machine insertion.


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