Postcards are the cheapest form of first class mail communication at 35¢.
Contrary to popular belief, postcards have very specific regulations. You can’t just send any single piece of paper that is not folded and not placed in an envelope as a postcard. They MUST be at least 3.5″x5″ but cannot be any bigger than 4.25″ x 6″ . Be careful to place the recipient’s address in an area where it will be clearly recognized.
The image to the right is an example of what NOT to do (clicking on the image will make it bigger). Elements that are incorrect are:
- The message is as bold and large as the address, and bleeds over, making it difficult to pick out the recipient’s address
- The drawings distract from the address, and make it more difficult for the scanners to detect
- Although not required, it’s always a good idea to include a return address. If the address is incorrect or unreadable, this postcard would be “killed”, because there is no information of where it came from.
- The bottom 3/4″ of the card should be left clear for location barcoding. The post office will place a sticker over this area of it is not blank and may cover up important information, leading to delays.
The most important element in addressing a post card is to make the address stand out and if you have stickers, logos and bold writing distracting from the address, chances are that the post office will catch everything else before the delivery address. This won’t send your postcard back, but it could cause substantial delays.
The picture to the left is an example of a what an ideal postcard should look like. Notice:
- The address stands out because of the blank margin surrounding it (This ensures that the address stands out from the surrounding text despite the writing not being any bolder)
- The bottom 1/2 inch has been left open and blank for the postcard to barcode it,
- There is also a return address; all of which will ensure that the postcard is delivered on time.
Does doing all this work ensure that your postcard will get there with no problems and with no delay? No. Of course it doesn’t, because the post office is a human entity, run by an ever dwindling crew of overworked and (sometimes) underpaid postal workers that are constantly being blamed for policies they don’t control. Taking these precautions make it easier for the USPS to do their job, and trust me, they appreciate it. AB