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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Custom Envelope Terms – Part 2

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 3, 2018 1:14:51 PM

In my last post I discussed and defined some of the special nomenclature pertaining to envelopes, envelope manufacturing and envelope printing.

For someone who’s buying these products for themselves or their business, it helps if you can speak the same language as the envelope converter or any other company you might be dealing with.

Here are a few more common terms/descriptions you might encounter in the process.

Standard Commercial Sizes (in inches)

These apply to either regular/closed face (non-window) envelopes or window envelopes.

# 6 1/4 – 3 ½ x 6

# 6 ¾ - 3-5/8 x 6 ½

# 7 – 3 ¾ x 6 ¾

# 7 ¾ - 3-7/8 x 7 ½

(Note: 7 ¾ size is also referred to as “Monarch Size”.  There is sometimes a distinction in the flap size and style between the two but the overall size is the same).

# 8-5/8 – 3-5/8 x 8-5/8

(Note: This is sometimes referred to as “Check Size”.)

# 9 – 3-7/8 x 8-7/8

#10 – 4-1/8 x 9-1/2

#11 – 4 ½ x 10-3/8

#12 – 4 ¾ x 11

#14 – 5 x 11 1/2

As you can see, the description doesn’t always match the size.  Don’t ask me why a #7 ¾ envelope measures 7 ½ inches!  Sometimes things just get carried forward and no one questions it. 

Elite Envelope can provide a handy desk guide which lists these standard sizes.  If you’d like one, please click here.  No charge!

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A – Style – “Announcement Style” – used primarily for greeting cards, invitations, etc.  It’s a side seam, booklet style envelope (see previous blog post!) with a deep square flap that usually covers about half of the size of the envelope.

Baronial Style – These are also used primarily for greeting cards and invitations. Baronial envelope usually have diagonal seams and pointed flaps.  There is a variation of these called “Euro Style” which has the pointed flaps but with side seam construction.

Remittance Envelopes – Also sometimes referred to as “Coupon Envelopes”.  These are open side, side seam envelope with a wallet flap that extends nearly to the bottom of the envelope.  They are used for payments and are very popular with fundraising appeals.  Sometimes the flap can be torn off with a perforation and used to send back in the envelope along with a payment.

Oh, and I mentioned in my last post that I would get into what’s meant by a “vertical window” placement on an envelope.  This is really just a regular window but is oriented differently on the envelope.  Vertical window means that the long dimension on the window runs perpendicular to the long dimension on the envelope.  So if you had say a 9 x 12 booklet envelope with a vertical window that measured 2” x 4” and you were holding the envelope with flap at the top, the 4” dimension of the envelope would run “north/south” .  This is very common with booklet style envelopes that require running through a postage meter or an inserter. 

If that last bit seems a little confusing still, feel free to contact me for a further explanation or I can send you a sample of the envelope.

 

 

Topics: custom envelopes, Envelope terms, A Style envelopes, baronial envelopes

Custom Envelope Terms - what do they mean?

Posted by Jerry Velona on Aug 31, 2018 3:05:56 PM

35048217-young-cool-black-man-doubting

The world of print buying which includes envelope buying has its own set of terms which are sometimes not easy to figure out.  Many people who find themselves assigned the task of buying print and paper are often confronted with sometimes inscrutable language thrown at them by vendors who are not considering their audience.

One of my pet peeves in general is the use of jargon especially in business and government.  Sometimes specialized terms are necessary in certain situations, for instance in certain technical applications.  The digital revolution of the past 25 years has meant that most of us had to learn about things like RAM and gigs.  It’s just part of the evolution of things.

However, I suspect that sometimes people use terms in which only a select group are familiar either by habit or perhaps as a way to make themselves look important.  After all, if you don’t know what X, Y or Z means then you’re just not as informed as you should be and I have something over you, right?

Well, having gotten that off my chest, back to envelopes and print buying!

Here are a few things you might hear or read in a quote with a quick explanation:

OS & OE - These are abbreviations for “open side” and “open end”.  In the envelope world, open side means the opening (or flap side) is on the side of the envelope that has longer dimension.  So, for instance, a 9 x 12 open side envelope means the flap is on the 12 inch side. This is also called “booklet style” (don’t ask me why).  So open side and booklet mean the same thing.  Open end means the opposite; the opening or flap side is on the shorter dimension side of the envelope.  So that same 9 x 12 envelope listed as an OE would have the flap on the 9 inch side.  Open ends are also called “catalog style” (again, don’t ask) – same thing. 

These terms are useful, even essential when describing what you’re looking for.  I can’t tell you how many times a buyer has said to me, “the flap is at the top of the envelope”.  “Top” is obviously a relative term.  Using either open side or open end as descriptors eliminates all question and confusion.

Note:  one thing to watch out for is that “OE” sometimes will mean “outgoing envelope”.  In this context it describes the envelope that is mailed to the customer usually with a return envelope inside.  You’ll generally only see that used in quote requests. It doesn’t refer in any way to the size or construction of the envelope.

Window Measurements – This is an area that often causes confusion between buyers and vendors.  There’s a certain method which envelope converters use that tends to eliminate confusion.  You might see this wording in a quote for a custom window envelope:  “Window measures 1-3/8” x 4”, ½” L, 7/8” B.”

The 1-3/8” x 4” describes the overall size of the window; width (north/south) first and length (east/west) second.  The second group of numbers describes the position of the window.  Window position is always described by the distance from two edges of the envelope in question.  The letter L simply means “Left”. In the example above, the window is placed ½” inch in from the left side of the envelope. The letter B means “Bottom”.  So in the example above the window is placed 7/8” up from the bottom of the envelope.  Envelope converters will ALWAYS measure and describe windows in this fashion. The only thing you’ll have to take into account is that the flap of the envelope has to be on top as you’re doing the measuring. 

There is one exception to this which refers to what is called a “Vertical Window”.  I’ll get into that in the next blog post.

In the meantime, feel free to pose any questions about this or any other envelope terms you might find confusing. I’ll be happy to answer any of them. No charge!

Topics: custom envelopes, Open Side, Open End, Booklet style envelopes, Catalog Envelopes, custom window envelopes

Envelope Converting Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 22, 2018 3:13:33 PM

9D6A7832 small file

Envelope converting is the process by which sheets of paper are made or “converted” into envelopes. The sheets can be plain or printed.  Machines which make envelopes can do so from paper rolls (which avoids die cutting as a separate function) or from die cut “blanks” which are fed into the machine and glued and folded.

Most converting jobs are ordered by printers. Generally speaking a printer will know the process and be able to speak the same language as the envelope converter and give him what he needs in order to produce the job properly.

However, there are many smaller users; small business owners, graphic designers to name just a couple, who might require a converted envelope and may not understand how to avoid the pitfalls that could occur as part of the converting process.   For those folks and any others who might not be that familiar with the process, you can obtain a list of converting tips here. But in addition, here are the three most common errors in the envelope converting process.  Keep these in mind when designing and ordering your custom envelope.

  • Error #1 – Not designing to the converter’s layout sheet.

Always ensure that the sheets are printed in strict accordance with the layout/template provided by the envelope converter.  If you don’t get one at the time of the order, ask for it. The converter knows how the job is to be laid out for best results.  And if you’ve ordered the envelope before from a different converter, don’t assume that their layout will apply to a different company.  Even if it’s a standard size like a #10, things like flap sizes can vary from company to company depending on their particular die.

  • Error #2 – Not accounting for the inevitable manufacturing variation and tolerances.

As I’ve covered in previous posts, there is variation inherent in both the cutting and folding of an envelope. If you are printing an envelope that has color which bleeds to one of the folding edges, you must wrap-around the image by at least 1/8” to ensure no white space shows.   The only way to significantly minimize this variation without the wrap-around is to individually die cut each envelope prior to folding. This is a much more costly process and not feasible on a large order. Plus, because of the folding variation, you’re still not going to get them all perfect.

  • Error #3 – Not leaving a no print area where glue meets ink.

If your envelope has full ink coverage all around, you must leave a space – called a no-print area – on the side flaps where they meet the back panel and also on the back panel where it meets the flap. This is where the glue is applied to hold the envelope together and seal it. The adhesion property of the glue is significantly lessened when it is applied on top of heavy ink coverage.  The layout provided by the envelope converter should have these areas marked off but if they don’t, make sure you ask.

Paying attention to these three points will allow you avoid the most common problems on an envelope converting job.  Feel free to e mail me at jerry@eliteenvelope.com if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to answer them for you.

Topics: envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting, custom envelopes

 Envelope Converting Defined – part 2

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 14, 2018 4:02:50 PM

In my previous post, we took the converting process from the point where the printer prepares the sheets and ships them to the envelope converter. Once the sheets are received, the envelope converting process for custom envelopes actually begins.

The first step is die-cutting the envelope blanks out of the sheet.  The envelope company will use a steel die – resembling a cookie cutter (see picture below). This is also sometimes referred to as a “high die” as the sides are generally around 4 inches high to account for the size of the ream being cut.

Depending on the quantity of the envelopes to be converted, the die-cutting will be either done by hand as the picture shows or in an automated fashion using a programmable hydraulic press (PHP).  The hands-on method allows for a little more accuracy and individual adjustments on cuts which can be improve the results on certain jobs. Once the envelope blanks are cut out of the sheets, they are stacked and ready to be fed into the folding machine.

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Some tips to ensure a problem-free converting experience:

Always ensure that the sheets are printed exactly per the layout/template provided by the envelope converter.  If you don’t get one at the time of the order, ask for it. The converter knows how the job is to be laid out on the sheet for best results. Going by the layout and submitting a proof sheet for prior approval can prevent many of the most common errors.

As I’ve covered in previous posts, there is variation inherent in both the cutting and folding of an envelope. If you are printing an envelope that has color which bleeds to one of the folding edges, you must wrap-around the image by at least 1/8” to ensure no white space shows.   The only way to significantly minimize this variation without the wrap-around is to individually die cut each envelope prior to folding. This is a much more costly process and not feasible on a large order. Plus, because of the folding variation, you’re still not going to get them all perfect.

If your envelope has full ink coverage all around, you must leave a space – called a no-print area – on the side flaps where they meet the back panel and also on the back panel where it meets the flap. This is where the glue is applied to hold the envelope together and seal it. The adhesion property of the glue is significantly lessened when it is applied on top of heavy ink coverage.  The layout provided by the envelope converter should have these areas marked off.

If you’re looking to make a custom envelope that really stands out, consider dealing directly with an envelope converter rather than an envelope printer who doesn’t also make envelopes.  They will give you the expertise you need to ensure your job is a “cut” above. 

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Topics: envelope converter, top quality envelopes, custom envelopes, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting

Custom Envelope Variation – part two

Posted by Jerry Velona on May 5, 2017 11:40:45 AM

In our last blog we presented the issue of variation in envelope converting and the reasons why it happens. In today’s piece, we’ll add the third and final reason for variation; jet offset envelope printing.

Envelopes can be printed in 3 ways (that topic to be fully discussed in a future article). The type of printing where variation can come into play is Jet offset printing. This is when the envelope is made and then printed after the fact.  In the typical Halm jet offset printer, a stack of envelopes is placed on one end and through vacuum pumps is fed through the printing cylinder over the plates and printing blanket and out the other end.  Like the envelope folding machine which forces the envelope to travel over a distance to its final destination, the printing press brings the envelope through various stages which cause it to move slightly.

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If the envelope is being printed with the same copy for each item and going through the press once, the amount of variation is so slight as to be virtually undetectable. However if, say,  you have a company logo that has been pre-printed onto the envelope and you are then feeding those “shells” into the press to add a certain return address next to the logo, you could see some variation or “bounce” in the placement of the return address in relation to the logo.  As in folding, the variation is generally within 1/16” of an inch but it could be more on a larger envelope like a 9 x 12.

Which brings us to things you can do to minimize the variation in your custom printed envelopes or custom envelopes in general; here are a few ideas you can put to use:

  1. Be realistic with your design – Certain designs for envelopes are almost sure to be a problem. Perhaps the most common one is designing the flap to be fully covered in a certain ink color. This looks cool but unfortunately the variation inherent in the process will cause there to be either some white on the flap or some color folding over of the color to the front of the envelope. The best way to avoid this is to either end the color 1/8” below the score line or wrap-around the color to the front 1/8”. It might not look as sharp but you’ll get a much neater and more consistent look.
  2. Avoid gloss coated stock where possible – Yes, it’s shiny and looks and feels great but it is also much more difficult to handle and the slipperiness of the coating causes more movement in the paper both in cutting and folding which can bring about greater variation.
  3. Deal directly with an envelope converter – Those of us who do this type of thing on a daily basis will be more familiar with the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Have you had any problems with envelope variation on your printed pieces?  Contact us and we will provide an analysis of the problem at no charge or obligation to you.   

Our commitment to customer service never varies!

Topics: custom envelopes, Envelope variation, envelope variation solutions, envelope printing, envelope printing mistakes

Custom Envelope Variation – Why?

Posted by Jerry Velona on Apr 4, 2017 10:35:31 AM

Manufacturing an envelope in any size or type; custom envelope, specialty envelope or even a standard envelope involves several distinct processes.  Envelope converting can be a little confusing especially for someone not familiar with how it’s done.

One of the most common concerns from customers of envelope converters is the degree of variation in the product.  By variation, we mean the slight differences in overall size of the envelope, window placement and print placement from what was ordered.

Variation is the result of the three main stages that paper goes through to become an envelope: cutting, folding and gluing and, in some cases, envelope printing.  Another major factor is the nature of the raw material; i.e. paper.

Envelope blanks for converting.jpg

Cutting:  The unfolded piece of paper that becomes an envelope is called a “blank”. Blanks are cut by placing a steel cutting die that resembles a cookie cutter (except much bigger and heavier!) on top of a large ream of paper. The die is then pressed down by the cutting machine until it goes through the entire ream or “lift” of paper.  Paper is a naturally pliable substance.  As the die cuts through the ream, a slight bending or bowing can occur until it reaches the bottom and the paper ream “breaks” at which time it will lay flat.  That slight movement during cutting can cause some of the blanks to vary in size by as much as 1/16” from others.  The hardness or thickness of the paper can be factor as well as the sharpness of the die and the number of sheets in the ream. But ultimately, some variation as a result of die-cutting is unavoidable.

9D6A7832 small file.jpg

Folding:  Once the blanks are cut, they are then loaded into the machine which applies the glue and folds them into a finished envelope. The typical envelope folding machine is between 20 and 30 feet long. The envelope blank will run all the way from one side to the other and then back again through scoring blades, window panel cutters and glue stations.  While envelope folding equipment is engineered for precision, there is a certain amount of movement during the process that is normal and, unfortunately, unavoidable. That movement can account for an additional variation of up to 1/16”.

In our next post, we’ll finish up the reasons for variation and also discuss some strategies customers can take to minimize its effect.

Topics: envelope converting, custom envelopes, specialty envelopes, Envelope variation

Custom Envelopes and "Overs"

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 16, 2017 10:29:58 AM

One of the most persistent questions posed by customers ordering specialty envelopes is, “why am I being billed for more (or fewer) envelopes than I ordered?”  Ah yes, the dreaded “over/under” question!

Annoyed designer gesturing in front of her laptop in her office.jpeg 

On custom envelope jobs, most envelope converters and printers will mention the possibility of more or fewer pieces being produced on the customer’s order.  Many customers tend not to pay attention to this; especially ones who are new or not familiar with the process.  Then, when the job or invoice is received, the howling begins.  It’s understandable for sure.

Despite what might seem to be a brazen attempt to increase the order under a dubious pretext, there is a very sensible reason why envelope converters maintain this policy. That reason is centered on the waste involved in the process. 

Let’s say a customer is ordering 5,000 special double window envelopes on a special stock.  There are two main processes in the manufacturing of envelopes. One is die-cutting of the paper (and maybe one of the windows) and the second is the actual folding and gluing of the paper to create the envelope. 

Setting up the paper to be cut involves placing a die in just the right position. Whether it’s done manually or automatically, it takes some trial and error before the cuts come out just right.  Until that point there are numerous sheets that are cut and discarded.  Then, once the paper is cut, setting up the folding machine and getting the specs exact also requires a lot of “make ready” paper.  Lastly, once the machine is running, constant fine adjustments must be made to keep the job running properly.  This can involve numerous stops and restarts which waste more paper.

In order to have enough paper to allow for possible contingencies, a company must order a significantly higher amount which adds cost to the job.  Being able to bill for a reasonable amount of “overs” allows a company to cover these added costs while providing extra envelopes that a customer will more than likely be able to use.  The alternative is for a customer to specify at the quoting stage that they do not want an overage on their order. What most companies will do in this case is simply include their extra costs into the price.  Under this scenario, the customer will pay the same overall cost for his job but without the benefit of more envelopes.  

“Unders” or receiving a quantity less than the amount ordered is also a possibility. It is less common however as getting less is generally a bigger problem to customers than getting more so companies will try to buy more than enough paper to ensure that the count is met.

What is a “reasonable” amount of overs or unders?  In the envelope world, generally the figure is up to 30% on minimum quantities and then the percentage declines as the quantity of the order goes up.  The higher percentage of overs would apply to more expensive specialty envelopes like custom Tyvek envelopes, bubble mailers and poly mailers.

Topics: overs/unders, envelope converter, envelope converting, specialty envelopes, custom envelopes, tyvek envelopes, bubble envelopes, poly mailers

Top Five Envelope Custom Envelope Converting Tips

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 27, 2017 11:12:35 AM

Envelope converting can be a confusing and somewhat daunting experience for someone not familiar with the process.  For printed envelopes, the term simply means printing on a flat sheet and having the sheets die cut and then folded and glued into envelopes.  The term also applies if you’re just cutting the paper with no printing. You are “converting” sheets of paper into envelopes:  pretty basic stuff.  Once you’ve gone through the process for the first time; it becomes much clearer and easier to understand.

Maybe you’re thinking about designing a custom envelope for a customer. Or maybe you’re an envelope printer and your customer is asking about a specialty envelope.  Here are a few things to keep in mind for your first converting job:

  1. Deal directly with an actual converter – Many companies that sell envelopes and have the word “envelope” in their name are not converters. It’s best to ask first before sending over an order.  You’ll be better served by those more experienced in the process and doing the job in-house.
  2. Preparation is the key to good results - A good converter should provide you with a specific list of instructions before you begin. Most important is a layout of the printed sheet showing where the envelopes should be placed. They will help you through the process.
  3. Not all design ideas are created equal - If the envelope is printed with a solid that bleeds to an edge, the image must wrap-around to the back by at least one-eighth of an inch in order to account for the normal variation inherent in the process. For window envelopes you can bleed the copy right to the edge of the window when converting. This is not possible with regular envelope printing on a pre-made envelope
  4. Understand what is possible in the process – speaking of variation, this is something that many designers don’t take into account when creating their envelope. Cutting paper in large reams and folding and gluing involves some variation – generally one-sixteenth of an inch in either direction.  This needs to be understood in order to have a satisfactory result and a realistic idea of what to expect.  Something that looks great in a direct mail marketer’s imagination doesn’t always translate to the finished product.
  5. Why convert? – If you want an envelope that features a large amount of ink coverage, generally with bleeds on most or all sides, the best way to proceed would be to print on flat sheets and convert. Anything short of that might be able to be printed on a jet press using pre-made or stock envelopes at a much lower cost. A converter and printer will be able to advise you on the best way to go on your specialty envelopes based on a simple inspection of your artwork.

 Envelope types.jpg

Custom printed envelopes can enhance your image and cause a potential buyer to be curious enough to at least open it up.  Choosing the right envelope company; one which does the envelope converting, printing and manufacturing under the same roof and can make the process easy to understand, is a good place to start.

Topics: envelope converting, envelope converter, custom envelopes, specialty envelopes, envelope printing

Envelopes for Packaging – A Sweet Idea

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 19, 2014 11:05:00 AM

envelopes for packaging is a sweet idea

 

I had an interesting conversation with a successful entrepreneur a few weeks ago.  She is one of the principals for a company that produces very high quality and very delicious square-shaped chocolate bars.  (By the way, the frowning (smirking?) candy bar above is not the product in question. The ones to which I'm referring are of a much happier variety!)

Her idea was to have us create a small, square envelope for the outside packaging on her candy bar. The bar would have a folded foil wrap directly covering it and then would be inserted into an envelope and sealed.  It would be a white envelope printed in four color process on the outside to create the required design along with ingredient information and the required nutrition breakdown. 

I told her I thought this was a great idea and not just because she had selected us to do the job. I can’t think of any food products that use envelopes for outside packaging but certainly there must be some that could. You need something fairly flat and dense.  Candy bars are an obvious example although like all good ideas, it seems obvious only after someone comes up with it.

The thing about envelopes is they have certain characteristics that convey things like timelessness, sturdiness and consistency, not to mention reliability. After all, the motto of the United States Postal Service is “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  According to Wikipedia, that phrase was a translation from the Greek historian Herodotus describing the ancient Persian system of mail carriers circa 500 BC.  You can’t fake that kind of historical lineage.

I realize of course that we live in an age when the 1980s is seen as ancient history but there are certain products which have deep cultural roots that resonate. Envelopes are certainly in that category. Cars also need to be included in that list. It can’t hurt for a product to have a tie-in to a simpler, perhaps less-complicated time. Nostalgia may often be an overly sentimental longing for a past that never actually existed.  But the feeling is undeniable and it starts to hit everyone who’s well into his twenties and beyond.

Now, I’m an envelope manufacturing guy and I have my biases but I can’t help think that printed envelopes, with all the possible options of paper and design, are an excellent choice for packaging the right product at the retail level.  We’re here if anybody out there wants to talk about it!

Topics: envelope manufacturer, printed envelopes, envelopes for packaging, custom envelopes

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!

 

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