In April 2015 the U.S. Postal Service kicked off National Card and Letter Writing Month by issuing these cool stamps, complete with decorative stickers that could be used for decorating envelopes. It started a national campaign to educate kids on how to write a letter, and even issued a guide to teaching letter writing, “It’s a Delight to Write”, which it sent to 80,000 teachers and 7.3 million parents nationwide. Hopefully some of those kids are still writing letters.
Fast-forward (not too fast) to April 2017, and here we are celebrating National Card and Letter Writing Month once again. Naturally, a blog entitled Letters in Time would need to write a post on it.
Google or search on Pinterest “National Letter Writing Month” and you will find oodles of inspiration. Wonderful! There are prompts to inspire you on what to write a letter about, who to write a letter to, and how to write a letter. Personally, I am inspired by all of the images of beautiful stationery and cards. And all of the pens – don’t even get me started. Ever since I was little I loved office supplies, and now with all of pens and colors out there I need to stay out of office supply stores!
One of my favorite things to look at on Pinterest is envelopes. I am in love with all of the beautiful hand lettering done on envelopes these days, and the artwork on some of the envelopes is incredible. Makes receiving a hand written letter or card even more enjoyable. I’d love to find a hand decorated envelope in my mailbox!
All of those beautiful envelopes had me wondering – how does the post office feel about all of that “extra” stuff? Does it make delivering those letters impossible? Does it take longer? There must be guidelines. Quite frankly, I was a little hesitant to get too fancy. So, I tried to see what type of guidelines I could find from the USPS. Here’s what I found for address placement:
- The address should be in an area one inch from each side of the envelope
- The top of the address should be no more than 2 3/4 inches from the bottom of the envelope and the bottom no more than 5/8’s of an inch from the bottom of the envelope.
- The area 4 1/2 inches by 5/8 ‘s of an inch in the lower right hand corner of the envelope MUST remain empty for bar code placement for any mail that is processed by the Mail Center.
Right. After I re-read that a few times my take was that a lot of the cool envelopes you see on Pinterest and Instagram don’t meet them. And, I imagine those letters are still getting delivered. So, maybe they are just “guidelines”. I would think that if a lot of those fancy schmancy envelopes weren’t getting delivered, we would have heard about it. Do what you may.
Now, here are some “guidelines” that sound much more in keeping with the creative side of addressing envelopes, from the Write On Campaign back in 2015:
- Brighter colors tend to have a harder time passing through the scanning machines. So, if you want to use bright colors, consider using them for the name only and use a more neutral tone for the address.
- ALWAYS keep the zip code and street number legible. Use your really fancy schmancy lettering for other things.
- Place the stamp first. Who wants to spend all of that time on a beautiful design or hand lettering, only to have it covered up by the stamp.
- Try not to get too busy. If there is too much on the front of your envelope, the scanning machine may not be able to pick up the actual address. A good rule of thumb is to keep patterns/illustrations surrounding the address, and not within.
- And, most importantly, have fun!
I think I can follow those.
One last thing. While googling and searching, I ran across the Write_On campaign, launched in 2014 by Egg Press. Basically, the challenge is to write 30 letters in 30 days during April, the National Letter Writing Month. I have accepted this challenge. I encourage you to do the same! Let’s make the 2017 National Letter Writing Month the best ever. It only takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit.
Here’s 2 of 30: