Envelopes are the unsung heroes of mail. They visually represent your business while keeping private communications and other types of mail secure and protected until they arrive at the intended recipient’s home or place of business. Their outer appearance can even influence whether a piece of mail gets opened upon arrival or immediately discarded. Compared to emails, which are opened about 25% of the time, physical mail has an open rate of about 90% in 2021.
To ensure that paychecks, greeting cards, utility bills, marketing materials, and more get into the right hands and are eventually opened, you need to choose the right envelope for the job. It’s nice that there are dozens of envelope varieties to choose from for various types of mail with different size, color, and seal options, but these can overwhelm decision-makers who already have other important choices to make on a daily basis. That’s why Staples has brought you this guide to choosing business envelopes! Refer to the information below the next time you need to select an envelope for promotional mail, coupons, invitations, etc.
How to Select the Right Envelope Type for Your Business Needs
The type of envelope you use for your mail tells a lot about who your business is, what kind of content is inside, and how urgent it is to open. Thus, it’s critical to choose wisely. You’ll know you selected the right envelope when it stands out from every other piece of mail and matches the messaging of the contents inside.
On that note, be careful not to misrepresent the contents of your envelope, as this could cost you the trust of your consumer. For example, some companies mark a piece of promotional content as urgent on the envelope to make it appear as an overdue bill just to make sure it gets opened. Tactics like this can negatively impact the recipient’s impression of your company and ensure that any mailers to follow get tossed in the trash.
Here are the steps to follow in selecting an envelope for your business communication needs.
1. Identify the right type of envelope for the content you are sending.
If you’re new to posted mail, it’s easy to assume that one type of envelope will work for all of your marketing materials. On the contrary, there are dozens of envelope types made for specific pieces of mail, such as money, catalogs, billing statements, promotional ads, coupons, and more. If you were mailing a utility bill, for example, it would not fit neatly into an invitation envelope like it would into a #10 business envelope.
Having an item-specific envelope for your content eliminates the need for cramming and protects your items from falling out or getting damaged during transit. It also makes it more obvious to your consumer what they’re receiving. Refer to the table below for more information on the envelope type that’s best for your purposes.
2. Choose a style that represents your brand.
Today, business envelopes come in a wide array of colors and shapes. These variations include:
- Five flap styles:
- Square/straight: Flap has a straight edge, leaving room for designs and illustrations on the back of the envelope; square flaps have less angular shoulders than straight flaps
- Regular/commercial: Flap is contoured or bowed at the end and angled at the shoulders for easy insertion
- Wallet: Similar to a straight flap but longer and deeper for extra security
- Baronial: Flap forms a sharp V-shape and folds down to meet two diagonal seams in the center
- Two orientations:
- Open end: Envelope opens on the short end
- Open side: Envelope opens on the long end
- Ten seam options:
- Crossback: Seams extend from the bottom corners to the middle of the envelope to meet the flap
- Baronial: Seams run diagonally and meet a deep flap with a strong point
- Side seam: Envelope constructed with two vertical seams for a clean appearance
- Double-side seam: Two vertical seams on either side of the envelope that are tucked under the back panel
- Outside-side seam: Two vertical seams on either side of the envelope are glued on top of the back panel
- Center seam: Seam runs down the middle of the envelope back — usually on catalogue envelopes and other heavy-duty envelopes for strength reinforcement
- One-side seam: A single-side seam that runs along the left or right of a large envelope to save space for printing on the back side
- Seamless: An envelope with no seams
- Bang tail: An envelope with a detachable perforated component, such as coupons
- Gusset: An envelope with added width at the sides for bulkier contents
- Two front styles:
- Plain: Envelope has a solid front
- Window: Envelope has a film-covered window for pre-printed addresses
The style you choose should be based on your brand identity and standards as well as the occasion and the content you’re sending. For example, if you were a law firm mailing out a holiday greeting card to current and former clients, an A7 greeting card envelope with an open side and a classic baronial flap and seam envelope in red or green would be appropriate. If you ran a medical spa and wanted to spread the word about the promotions available the week of your grand opening, you might be better off picking a contemporary-looking #6 ¾ envelope with a cross back seam and flap in your brand colors with the company logo on the front.
3. Select an appropriate size for your contents.
Standard business envelope size — which is 4 ⅛ x 9 ½ “ — will suffice for most mailing purposes. When choosing an envelope size, a general rule is to find one about a quarter inch bigger than the width and height of your contents so you can fit them into the envelope with ease and keep them neat. If you’re mailing catalogs or large bundles of coupons, it’s a good idea to go up a couple sizes so the envelope can close easily and stay fastened while in transit.
Generally, larger envelopes stand out more and give you a better chance of having your mailer opened, but be sure it makes sense for the size of your contents.
4. Find a material that suits your budget and style.
Businesses usually choose the material for an envelope based on the occasion and how heavy the contents will be. Typical paper grades for envelopes usually include the following:
- Kraft paper: A durable, versatile, and affordable paper option made from wood pulp
- Recycled paper: An eco-friendly envelope option repurposed from waste paper products
- Cardstock paper: A thick and durable envelope option used for more formal pieces of mail
- Tear-resistant paper: Rip- and moisture-resistant yet lightweight paper material made to hold up in transit and protect important documents
- Wove paper: Untextured economical paper available in several color and weight variations; a common option for posted mail
- Surface-enhanced white wove: A type of smooth, uniformly textured paper with a clean, bright white appearance
For small or lightweight everyday content, the best option for your budget would be a practical and economical choice such as the kraft, recycled, or wove envelopes. However, if you’re sending a gala invitation or a formal announcement, an eye-catching cardstock envelope may be more ideal. In the end, your own personal preference and the importance of the content should be the key considerations when selecting a material for your mail.
5. Decide which seal will keep your content most secure.
Another important envelope variation to consider is the closure. The following are the most common envelope seals for business mail:
- Gummed envelope: This type of envelope has a moistenable glue seal under the flap that has to be licked or otherwise moistened to close. Gummed envelopes are economical and frequently used in bulk mailing machines.
- Self seal: If you aren’t using a bulk mailing machine, self-seal envelopes are easier to use because they don’t have to be licked or dampened. They have a strip of glue that you uncover and press down on to seal the envelope.
Self-seal envelopes are more expensive, but they’re far more convenient if handling mail by hand. They’re also known to be stronger than gummed envelopes, so if you have more weight to send through the mail, these are your best bet in keeping the envelope closed. Gummed envelopes are cheaper, and they’re still convenient if you have a bulk mailing machine to expedite the process by moistening the seal for you.
6. Find out how many envelopes you’ll need.
Buying envelopes in bulk can reduce the frequency of your purchases and save your company money on mailing. When counting the number of envelopes you need, remember to purchase a few extra in case any of them get ripped or other mistakes occur.
7. Consider opting for customizations.
If you have some wiggle room in your mailing budget for envelope customization, it may be worth the investment to ensure your envelopes are distinctive and memorable. These days, you can add personalized graphics and branding to your business mailers, and the only limit is your creativity. People are much more likely to remember a flashy and colorful envelope with a company logo than a white envelope with generic and uniform text.
But again, it depends on what you’re sending. As a hospital sending out invoices, you may not be as concerned with customized envelopes as you are with tear-resistant paper that protects the integrity of the contents.
Envelope Types, Sizes, and Purposes
|#1 Coin||Business||2.25 x 3.5"||Ideal for small items such as coins, stamps, paperclips, seeds, pills, keys, small electronics, receipts, gift cards, stickers, and jewelry.|
|#5 Coin||Business||2.875 x 5.25"||Ideal for small items such as coins, stamps, paperclips, seeds, pills, keys, small electronics, receipts, gift cards, stickers, and jewelry.|
|#5.5 Coin||Business||3 x 5.5"||Ideal for small items such as coins, stamps, paperclips, seeds, pills, keys, small electronics, receipts, gift cards, stickers, and jewelry.|
|#6 Coin||Business||3.375 x 6"|
|#6 ¾||Business||3.625 x 6.5"|
|#7 Coin||Business||3.5 x 6.5"|
|Money||Business||3 x 6.6875"||The perfect size for paper bills, allowing you to safely send and store cash and checks, paystubs, and letters.|
|#8 ⅝||Business||3.625 x 8.625"||Classic envelope for everyday business purposes, such as invoices, expense reports, invitations, announcements, and letters.|
|Monarch (7 ¾)||Business||3.875 x 7.5"||Classic envelope for everyday business purposes, such as invoices, expense reports, invitations, announcements, and letters.|
|Monarch Policy||Business||3.875 x 7.5”||A variation of the traditional monarch envelope with an open end.|
|#9||Business||3.875 x 8.875"||These envelopes fit into standard #10 envelopes are are typically used as business reply mail (BRM) that the recipient can return to the sender.|
|#10||Business||4.125 x 9.5"||A standard sheet of 8.5 x 11” paper can be folded into three sections and tucked into a size-10 envelope, which is usually used for utility bills and bank statements.|
|#11||Business||4.25 x 10.375"||Traditional envelopes for standard business mailing needs, such as bills and business promotion letters.|
|#12||Business||4.75 x 11"||Traditional envelopes for standard business mailing needs, such as bills and business promotion letters.|
|#14||Business||5 x 11.5"||Traditional envelopes for standard business mailing needs, such as bills and business promotion letters.|
|#16||Business||6 x 12"|
|Security Envelopes||Security||Various sizes||Security envelopes have an internal pattern that makes it impossible to see the contents of an envelope when held up to a light source, keeping confidential information secure.|
|3.625 x 5.125"||The shape and size of these envelopes make them ideal for thank-you cards, invitations, and announcements.|
|4.375 x 5.75"||The shape and size of these envelopes make them ideal for thank-you cards, invitations, and announcements.|
|4.75 x 6.5"||The shape and size of these envelopes make them ideal for thank-you cards, invitations, and announcements.|
|5.25 x 7.25"|
|5.5 x 8.125"|
|5.75 x 8.75"|
|6 x 9.5"|
|2.375" square to 13.5" square|
|Cello Sleeves||Promotional||Various sizes||Cellophane acid-free sleeves keep your contents safe from moisture damage without concealing what’s inside. They’re great for items such as photo prints and promotional mail.|
|Photo Mailer||Promotional||Various sizes||These secure your photos in a sturdy cardboard sleeve to prevent bending and tearing and are great for photographs and other kinds of artwork|
|Bubble Mailer||Promotional||Various sizes||Bubble mailers have a padded interior to keep CDs, small electronics, jewelry, and other fragile items insulated while on the way to the intended recipient.|
|Booklet Envelope||Promotional||Various sizes||Commonly 9 x 12”, a booklet envelope is generally for booklet-size materials that would not fit in a standard-sized envelope because they cannot be folded.|
|Open-End Catalog Envelope||Promotional||Various sizes||A large envelope with an open end designed for mailing heavier items such as brochures, sales materials, and magazines.|
Start Maximizing Your Mailing
Once you understand the basics of how to choose an envelope and familiarize yourself with all the options, finding the correct ones will become second nature — and you may see the health of your business improving as a result. Start improving your mail strategy with high-quality business envelopes today!