Questions? Call Us!

(781) 961-1800

Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Custom Envelope Terms - what do they mean?

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


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

How to Properly Measure and Envelope

Posted by Jerry Velona on Nov 21, 2017 11:55:00 AM

Aside from the fact that many otherwise intelligent adults these days seem to have a problem using a ruler (don’t get me started on this one), there are some rules for measuring and identifying dimensions on regular, expansion and window envelopes which can make things a little tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Generally, envelopes will never be identified by a unit of measure smaller than one-eighth of an inch.  That’s because there is a tolerance of plus or minus one-sixteenth of an inch in all manufactured envelopes.   So, if you’re measuring an envelope and the width seems to measure close to say, 4-1/16 of an inch, the envelope will actually either measure 4 inches or 4-1/8 of an inch.  In other words, it was manufactured to either one of those sizes and because of the tolerance, it folded slightly larger or smaller. You would most likely go with whichever one happens to be closer; i.e. you’d round up or down. If the measurement is close to a standard size, then the “true measurement” of the envelope is probably the standard size.

Measuring a custom window envelope has a certain protocol.  On a regular horizontal window (where the longer dimension of the window runs in the same direction as the longer dimension of the envelope), you’d measure and state the smaller dimension (width) first: e.g. 1 x 3 ½ .  To measure the position of the window, measure the distance from the LEFT side of the envelope to where the window begins and then do the same thing from the BOTTOM of the envelope up to the closest edge of the window.  So, you might say that 1 x 3 ½ window measures 7/8 of an inch from the left and ½ of an inch from the bottom.  Sometimes if the window is placed closer to the top of the envelope than the bottom or closer to the right side of the envelope rather than the left, it is assumed that the measurement should be taken from the top or from the right. However, that is not correct from the envelope company’s point of view so even in those cases, it’s always best to measure the window positions from the left side and bottom side of the envelope.


Double window envelopes are measured in the same way. You just take one window at a time and then express them on your quote request as “top window” and “bottom window” or left and right window depending on the particular custom window configuration of the envelope.

Measuring an expansion envelope can be tricky because of the expansion panel (also known as a “gusset”).  On these types of envelopes there are three dimensions; width (the shorter dimension), length (the longer dimension) and thickness (measured when the envelope is fully expanded on all sides).  The easiest way to correctly measure an expansion envelope is to fully extend the side (expansion) panels all around. By doing that you create a small, three-dimensional “box” which shows you where the true edges are on all sides including the top where the flap is located.  Before the envelope is fully expanded, there are multiple score lines especially at the top of the envelope. It’s very common for these types of envelopes to be measured incorrectly by selecting the wrong score as the true edge. Puffing out or expanding the envelope solves this problem. You can now see where the actual edges are and can measure the length and width accurately.  Remember that the expansion is always the same on all sides.  A typical expansion envelope measurement might be expressed as 9 x 12 x 2.   The only other curveball on this is whether the bottom of the envelope is a “V-Bottom” or a “box-bottom”.  V bottoms are shaped like a V and don’t lay flat unlike a box bottom. If you are measuring an expansion envelope with a V bottom, you can get the true expansion dimension from the sides and the top.

 paper expanOpen_inSides-99F0-k.jpg


Topics: Measuring Envelopes, expansion envelopes, custom window envelopes, double window envelopes

Full View Display Window Envelopes

Posted by Jerry Velona on Nov 25, 2015 11:53:00 AM

I try to keep this blog as informative as possible on matters of general interest to those in the print, envelope and direct mail communities.  When I started, I thought that after a while I might have trouble thinking of things to write about.  Well, this is my one hundred and fourteenth blog entry (pausing for awkward pat on my own back) and while finding new topics is getting a little more challenging (OK, so I do repeat myself once in a while; sue me.) I’ve been able to figure it out for the most part. I hope you like reading them and please send me your comments. I love getting them.

Anyway, while I try to keep the blog focused on things you might find interesting, every so often I surrender to the little sales guy perched on my shoulder who will bug me occasionally with comments like, “Hey Jerry, why don’t you let them know what you’re selling these days?  After all, you are in business to make money right?”  (He also bugs me about not making enough cold calls, being out of touch with certain customers and other things I won’t bore you about. Doesn’t everyone have voices in their head?)

elite envelope full view window envelopes

So, to placate this annoying little dude, I thought I would take this opportunity to make you aware of our latest product offering: full view window envelopes also known as display window envelopes.  We've actually been making and supplying these items since our inception in 2003.  But we are now starting to offer on line ordering and fulfillment from our website at  We've just added a window from our home page which will take you to our on line store  where you can purchase 6 x 9 full view window envelopes and 6 x 9 1/2 full view window envelopes. These envelopes have 4 x 7 and 4 x 7 1/2 display windows which allow for the contents to show through.  The purpose is to show off what's inside in order to entice the recipient to open it and take a look. 

At Elite we print and convert envelopes with lots of very eye-catching designs.  Direct mailers have learned that one of the ways to get their mail opened is to create some connection at the point of receipt; i.e. when the letter is removed from the mailbox and held in the hand.  Once it gets put down, there's much less of a chance that it will be opened. Life has moved on and there are other things to think about.  Most likely the envelope will end up in the recycling bin or the trash.  Using a splash of color or a clever tagline or photos or all of the above can help to create interest and encourage the recipient to peek inside. 

Full view window envelopes go a step further by partially displaying the contents thereby indicating what's inside and enticing with just enough of a tease to get someone to bite. There's also something to be said for a good looking package that someone has obviously spent a bit of money on.  Many people will respect that alone and open and read out of courtesy if not for any other reason.  I don't have any stats or studies to back this up but I believe it passes the common sense test.

We can provide full view envelopes in just about any size but the 6 x 9’s and 6 x 9 ½’s are our best deal and you can find great pricing and fast delivery through our website or the links above.  We’ll print them for you too!

Since I’m writing this on the day before, let me take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  I am personally grateful for the success of Elite Envelope & Graphics and thank any of you who have placed an order with us of any size.  Despite all our problems and travails, I believe we are fortunate to live in this great country of ours so, in addition to giving thanks for our personal blessings of friends, family and material comfort I think a special shout-out is in order:  God Bless America!

Topics: elite envelope, custom window envelopes, display window envelopes, full view window envelopes

Custom Window Envelopes – Creating an Effective mailing

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jan 21, 2013 11:41:00 AM

Custom Window Envelopes are used frequently in direct mail and in smaller specialized applications. In envelope parlance, a custom window is also referred to as a special window:  same thing; different terminology.

 standard window diagram resized 600

A standard envelope window measures 1-1/8” x 4 ½” and is placed 7/8” in from the left edge and  ½” up from the bottom edge. (See above)  Since the use of bar-coding for outgoing mail has become more common, there are a couple of different envelope window sizes that have become near-standards. They are close to the standard size and placement but generally a little bigger and/or placed a little higher up from the bottom in order to incorporate the bar code either as part of the address showing through the window or ink-jetted at the bottom of the envelope below the window.  These can vary from company to company so it’s always better to check before designing your mail piece.


The standard window was originally designed to display the outgoing address when it’s typed in the customary spot on the upper left-hand corner of a standard 8 ½ x 11 letter sheet and tri-folded to fit in a standard #10 envelope.  That is still the case and the standard #10 window envelope is by far the most widely used window envelope. If your mailing can be designed to use the standard window, it’s going to be less expensive especially in smaller quantities of 100,000 or less.  On any mailing of over 100,000 there will be less of a difference in price for using a custom window and the price difference nearly disappears on very large quantities of 1 million or more.  Envelope manufacturing is the same as any other kind of custom manufacturing: the larger the quantity, the lower the unit cost.


Most window envelopes have a patch over the window which is glued to the inside of the envelope. This protects the contents and makes them more secure.  Unpatched window envelopes are more commonly used for reply envelopes where the end –user is handling the piece individually – mostly on large mailings for utilities and insurance companies.  Putting a window envelope with no patch covering the window through a mailing machine could cause problems which is why this is rarely done.


In order to properly glue a patch to the inside of an envelope, you must have a minimum of 3/8” space from the edge of the envelope to the edge of the window cut-out.  Most envelope converters will not make a window with less space than that.


Window patch material can vary. The most common is the regular poly material which is a clear plastic. In the past, glassine was used as a recyclable alternative to poly but had drawbacks due to the fact that it was cloudy and not favored by the post office. More recently, there have been numerous vegetable based window materials that are clear but also recyclable. These tend to be more expensive as is typically the case with any recycled material including paper.


Custom windows can vary widely in both size and shape. A commonly used item is the full-view window. This is a large window used generally on a #10, 6 x 9 or 9 x 12 size envelope that covers most of the face of the envelope. It allows for whatever piece is inserted to show through almost completely which can entice the recipient to open the envelope.  Other popular custom windows are the pistol shape and basic geometric shapes like circles and squares. The former is generally used to show an address while the latter are used to expose certain spots of the mail piece to create curiosity on the contents.  The creative use of custom windows is a great way to get the recipient to open the envelope which, after all, is the whole point.

Topics: direct mail, envelope manufacturer, custom window envelopes, special window envelopes, direct mail design, standard window 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!


Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all