Glossary of Direct Mail
Choose the first letter of the word or acronym from the
list above to go to
the appropriate item in the glossary.
- AADC - Automated Area Distribution
- A USPS Area Distribution Center that uses a variety of sophisticated
optical character readers, barcode sorters, and other high speed
equipment for processing automation compatible bulk mail.
- Address List
- A digital list of addresses utilized for mailing. The list may be in
a wide variety of formats such as those used in Spreadsheets, Databases,
Word Processors, and Personal Information Managers. Also see Resident,
Consumer, Business, and Specialty List items in the glossary.
- Address Service Requested
- One of several processes offered by the USPS to provide change-of-address
information to mailers. With this endorsement, months 1 through 12
after the addressee has moved, the mail piece will be forwarded at no
charge. Months 13 - 18, the mail piece will be returned with the new
address attached. After 18 months, the mail piece will be returned.
Past month 13 a 50¢ fee is charged per letter mail piece returned.
- AIS - Address Information System
- Products offered by the USPS to assist mailers in finding correct zip
codes and other current addressing information.
- APO - Army Post Office
- The military post office address code for addresses located outside the
continental United States for either Army or Air Force personnel. See
FPO for US Navy & Marines.
- Aspect Ratio
- The dimension of a mail piece expressed as a ratio of length (the
direction parallel to the address) divided by height. An aspect ratio
between 1.3 and 2.5, inclusive, is required for automation compatibility.
- ASS - Address Sequencing Service
- Service offered by the USPS to sequence your mailing list when you provide
a 3x5 index card for each address. Some Direct mail companies digitally perform the same service quickly and efficiently for a small
charge per name. Also, this acronym is what people call themselves after
they have used this USPS service for the first time (usually not used the
- Automation Compatible Mail
- Mail that can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing
equipment such as an optical reader or barcode scanner.
- A string of vertical bars that represent numeric information. Barcodes are
used by the USPS to automate mail handling thereby reducing cost, speeding
delivery, and improving accuracy. Also see POSTNET and DPBC.
- Barcode Clear Zone
- A rectangular area in the lower right part of a letter size mail piece
that must be kept free of printing and symbols, except the barcode itself.
- Base Cost
- The basic cost per name for address lists excluding any demographic
selections. Normally stated in dollars per thousand records
(names/addresses). Multi-use lists are charged at double the base cost.
Charges for demographic selections do not double for multi-use lists.
- BMC - Bulk Mail Center
- A USPS regional center for processing Standard (A), Standard (B), and
Periodical bulk mailings. BMC's are highly automated and are the key
element in the distribution chain for bulk mail.
- BRM - Business Reply Mail
- Reply mail that uses a Business Reply Permit to return mail at no charge
to the addressee. Widely used for surveys, product registration cards,
and inquiry requests as examples. Reply mail has very specific layout
requirements that normally require pre-approval by the USPS. See FIM.
- COD -Collect On Delivery
- A service offered by the USPS , and other shippers, where an item may
shipped and payment for the item is collected upon delivery and returned
to the shipper.
- Change Service Requested
- An ancillary service offered by the USPS. A separate notice of new
address or reason for non-delivery is returned to the sender. The
mail piece is disposed of by the USPS. A fee of 50¢ is charged per
- A process where different kinds of mail are mixed together and sorted by
destination address in order to generate savings in postage.
- CRRT - Carrier Route
- A mail delivery route defined for a USPS postal carrier. Reduced
postage rates are offered for bulk mailers who sort their mail by carrier
route and thereby save the post office processing time. There are
several "schemes" for carrier route sorts that offer different
discounts on postage.
- DBMC - Destination Bulk Mail Center
- A postage rate available on some categories of Standard Mail. The
mail must be properly presorted delivered by the mailer to the appropriate
BMC that serves the delivery address on the mail.
DDU - Destination Delivery Unit
- A bulk mail postage rate available for Enhanced Carrier Route sorted
mail only. Mail must be sorted to Line-of-Travel at a minimum.
- A range of selectors available to use when specifying an address list.
Demographic selectors may include age, income, gender, and special
interests such a mail order buyers, credit card holders, etc.
- Direct Mail
- Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted prospects or markets.
Direct mail can be sent via any postage rate but is usually sent Standard
- DMM - Domestic Mail Manual
- The USPS manual that contains the basic regulations governing domestic
mail services; descriptions of the mail classes and services and
conditions controlling their uses; and standards for rate eligibility and
mail preparation. Domestic mail is classified by size, weight, content,
service, and other factors.
- DPBC - Delivery Point Barcode
- A POST NET barcode that consists of 62 bars with beginning and ending
frame bars and 5 bars each for the nine digits of the ZIP +4 code, the
last 2 digits of the primary street address number (or post office box,
etc.), and a correction digit. The DPBC allows automated sorting of mail
to the carrier level in walk sequence.
- Drop Shipment
- Typically the movement of a mailer's product on private (non postal)
transportation from the point of production to a postal facility located
closer to the destination of that product.
- DSCF - Destination Sectional
- A rate available for Standard Mail (A) and Periodicals that is properly
prepared and entered by the mailer at the sectional center facility (SCF)
that serves the delivery address on the mail.
- ECRLOT - Enhanced Carrier Route
(Line of Travel)
- Mailings in which pieces must be part of a group of 10 or more to one
carrier route, prepared in line of travel sequence. The
mailing list must be CASS certified within the past 3 months and
pre-sorted with PAVE certified software. LOT mail is sorted in the
order in which the carrier actually delivers the mail.
- EMM - Extended Managed Mail Tray
- 2-foot letter trays that measure 21 3/4" long by 11 1/2" wide
and 6 1/8" high. Must be used for letter sized mail that are too
tall for standard MM trays.
- An authorized marking on a mail piece that shows handling instructions, a
service, or a request for an ancillary service.
- Enhanced Carrier Route
- A rate class for Standard (A) mail that requires the mail pieces to be
pre-sorted by Line-of-Travel, High Density, or Walk Sequence. Usually
provides the greatest postage discounts.
- FCM - First-Class Mail
- A class of mail that includes all matter wholly or partly in writing or
typewriting, all actual and personal correspondence, all bills and
statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against
- FIM - Facing Identification Mark
- A series of five or six vertical bars used by automated postal equipment
to identify, orient, and separate business reply mail. FIM's
are required in a precise location the upper right corner of business
reply mail. See the USPS "Notice 67" template for the
exact layout requirements.
- The general term for flat sized mail. In Standard (A) mail a flat
is a mail piece that is larger than 11 1/2" length and 6
1/8" width. The rate schedule also varies based on the weight
of the mail piece.
- FPO - Fleet Post Office
- A military post office that serves the operating forces of the US Navy
and Marine Corps. The geographic location of shore stations is
identified by ZIP Code; for operating forces, the ZIP Code identifies the
unit but not the location.
- Full Letter Tray
- An MM or EMM letter tray filled at least ¾ full with faced, upright
- Geographical Selection
- Term used when renting address/mailing lists to specify the physical
area to be covered. Must address lists may be selected by Zip code,
County, City, Metro Area, or State. Some lists may be selected
in a Radius around a certain Carrier Route or Zip Code.
- IMM - International Mail Manual
- The USPS manual that contains classification regulations and other
requirements for mailing between the United States and other countries.
- Imprinted designation on mail that denotes postage payment. The indicia
must contain the Class of postage (i.e. First Class, Presorted Std), the
words US Postage, & Paid, the post office city where the permit is
held, and the number of the permit. The indicia should be placed where a
stamp would normally be placed. See Permit.
- Irregular Parcel
- A mail processing category for a parcel that does not meet the
dimensions of a machinable parcel.
- Optional mailer information printed in or above the address or in the
lower left corner of the envelope. Under some postage payment systems, the
key line is a required line that contains specific information about the
- A service that converts "old style" addresses such as rural
routes to the new federally mandated "city style" street
- Letter Mail Piece
- In Standard (A), a mail piece that is less than 6 1/8" x 11
1/2" in size, less than 1/4' thick, and weighs less than 3.2873oz.
Letter piece must also have an aspect ration 0f 1.3 to 2.5 inclusive.
See Aspect Ratio.
- LOT - Line of Travel
- A presort for Enhanced Carrier Route rates in which mail pieces are
arranged by zip+4 and other codes in the order in which the route is
served by the carrier. The mail pieces are sequenced in delivery
- LTRS - Letters
- A code used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as
letter-size mail (mail, including cards, that do not exceed any parameter
for letter mail)
Back to Top
- The process of combining separate address lists and removing duplicate
records, also known as de-duping.
- Multi Family Dwelling units. The acronym used with address lists
for apartments type dwellings.
- MLOCR - Multi Line Optical
- A machine that reads and analyses multiple lines of the delivery
address on a mail piece. This machine can read the address,
print the delivery point barcode, verify that the information is correct
and sort it at very high speeds.
- Move Update
- Processing your list through an approved NCOA correction service to
qualify for the July 1 USPS regulations. This process updates your
address list with the NCOA addresses to ensure that your list is as
current as possible.
- NCOA - National Change of Address
- An address correction service that the USPS provides to mailers
through USPS licensees. The licensees match mailing lists submitted to
them on tape or disk against change-of-address information for the
entire country from all Computerized Forwarding System units. This
process allows a mailer to maintain the accuracy of a list used for
repeat mailings over time.
- A record that was compared against an NCOA file and was found to be an
"almost" match. A code will be returned with the record
explaining where the discrepancy was found.
- Non-Profit Standard Mail
- A class of Standard Mail available to organizations that have been
approved by the USPS for nonprofit mailings. To be approved for
nonprofit mailing an organization must go to the USPS office in their
city and complete a PS Form 3624. The organization will receive a
letter in 10-14 days from USPS Memphis approving or denying their
- OCR - Optical Character Reader
- An automated mail sorting machine that interprets the address
information on a letter-size mail piece and sprays the corresponding ZIP
Code information onto the piece as a barcode. The OCR consists of a mail
feed unit, transport unit, stacker modules, computer with a control
system, video monitor, and printer.
- The process of standardizing name and address fields. Normally
refers to breaking combined fields into separate fields such as a full
address field into street number and street name fields.
- PAVE - Presort Accuracy Validation and
- A voluntary program in which the USPS provides testing for certain
categories of presort software and hardware products to determine their
accuracy in sorting address information according to Domestic Mail Manual (DMM)
standards and producing standardized supporting documentation.
- A class of mail (formerly called second-class) consisting of magazines,
newspapers, or other publications formed of printed sheets that are issued
at least four times a year at regular, specified intervals (frequency) from
a "known office of publication." Periodicals usually must have a
list of subscribers and/or requesters, as appropriate.
- POSTNET - Postal Numeric Encoding
- The barcode system for encoding the delivery point information and ZIP +4
code information on letter-size and flat-size mail pieces. Also see DPBC
- Presort Levels
- Terms used for presort levels are defined as follows:
|Firm - All pieces for delivery at the
address shown on the top piece of a package or bundle.|
|Carrier Route - All pieces for delivery
on the same city route, rural route, highway contract route, post
office box section, or general delivery unit.|
|5-digit - The delivery address on all
pieces includes the same 5-digit ZIP Code.|
|3-digit - The ZIP Code in the delivery
address on all pieces begins with the same three digits.|
|Unique 3-digit - The ZIP Code in the
delivery address on all pieces begins with the same three digits as
one of the 3-digit areas identified.|
|3-digit/scheme - The ZIP Code on the
delivery address on all pieces begins with one of the 3-digit
prefixes processed by the USPS as a single scheme (see L003) and
that, subject to standard, may be presorted together as a single
|Entry SCF 3-digit(s) - The ZIP Code in
the delivery addresses off all pieces begins with one of the 3-digit
prefixes processed at the postal facility in whose service area the
mailer is located.|
|SCF - The separation includes pieces for two or more
3-digit areas served by the same SCF.|
|ADC/AADC - All pieces are addressed for
delivery in the service area of the same ADF or AADC.|
|ASF/BMC - All pieces are addressed for
delivery in the service area of the same ASF or BMC.
|DDU - Pieces sorted to and entered at the Destination
|Mixed (BMC, AADC, etc.) - The pieces are
for more than one presort destination.|
|Residual (pieces/packages/sacks) - Mail
that is left over after completion of a presort sequence. Residual
mail, which lacks the volume set by standard to require or permit
package or bundle preparation to a particular destination, usually
does not qualify for a presort rate. (Also called non-qualifying or
- Radius List
- The Resident, Consumer, and other selected address lists may be
selected by a radius around a given carrier route or zip code. The
radius may be based on a given quantity or a specified distance.
Excellent technique for Retail or other businesses where geographic
proximity is key to likely new prospects.
- Return Service Requested
- An endorsement that requests the USPS to return an undelivered mail
piece with the new address or the reason for non-delivery.
- Rural Route
- A delivery route served by a rural carrier. For walk sequence
presorts abbreviated addresses are permitted by USPS. The
abbreviated addresses such as those contained in "Resident"
address lists do not include a box number and are not sufficient
addresses for any other class of mail.
- SCF - Sectional Center Facility
- A postal facility that serves as the processing and distribution
center (P&DC) for post offices in a designated geographic area as
defined by the first three digits of the ZIP Codes of those offices.
Some SCF's serve more than one 3-digit ZIP Code range.
- Single Family Dwelling Unit. An acronym used with address lists
for single family homes
- A paperboard jacket that fits over the four sides of a letter tray in
order to keep the mail in the tray during shipment. When preparing
trays for Standard (A) mail the trays must be strapped before
presentation to the USPS.
- Standard Mail (A)
- Standard Mail matter that weighs less than 16 ozs. It comprises
the subclasses of Regular & Nonprofit Standard Mail, and Enhanced
Carrier Route mail. Standard (A) may be sent at presorted rates
and automation rates.
- USPS - United States Postal
- The quasi-branch of the government which supports and supplies all
national mail services under the private express statute.
- Walk Sequence
- The order in which a carrier delivers mail for a route. This
order provides the greatest postage discounts.
- See the letter "V"
- ZIP CODE-
Zone Improvement Plan Code
- Established in 1963, the system of 5-digit codes that identifies the
individual post office or metropolitan area delivery station associated
with an address. ZIP +4 is an enhanced code consisting of the 5-digit
ZIP Code and four additional digits that identify a specific range of
- ZIP+4 - Zip Plus 4
- The four digit zip extension