Office Stationery 101: What You Probably Don't Know (But Should) About Envelopes

How much could there possibly be to know about packing and shipping envelopes? More than you think. Read on to learn fun facts about office stationery.

Envelopes, Manila, Office stationery, Paper

How much could there possibly be to know about packing and shipping envelopes? More than you think.

Five fun facts about envelope history:

  1. The Babylonians are credited with developing the first envelopes in 2000 BC: clay covers folded around documents and baked to create a hard shell.
  2. The first paper postal envelopes were flat sheets folded and sealed, usually with wax.
  3. Manila envelopes are named after the Manila hemp used to make them.
  4. The first window envelope was patented in 1901; the first window envelope for laser printers was patented in 2010.
  5. DuPont™ Tyvek® — a popular material for tear- and moisture-resistant envelopes and packing materials — was initially used as a vapor barrier in building construction.

Important Envelope Considerations

It's easy to take the envelope for granted, but it definitely deserves more thought.

"The envelope is the first thing your audience sees, so its appearance says so much about your business," explains Veronica Kido, president of Kido Communications, LLC, a marketing communications firm. "You are communicating a non-verbal, visual and tactile message through the envelope so you want to keep in mind the impression you hope to make. Your envelope should reflect both your brand and personality."

Use these five tips to choose the right one for the job:

1. Size It Right: Size impacts cost and mailability. Make sure contents fit snugly enough and that the envelope is a regulation size for the U.S. Postal Service — otherwise you'll pay extra to send it.

2. Brand It: If you send a lot of mail, professionally print your logo and address directly on envelopes or specialty labels. If you don't send much volume, set up a template in your word-processing program that includes the image and information, and then produce them directly from your printer.

3. Show Your Colors: "If you're using mailing labels, you can explore a wider range of envelope colors," says Mitch Dowell, founder and creative director of Branding Experiences. "However, if you'll be hand-addressing, you may want to go for lighter colors where the handwriting can be easily read." Be sure to select tones that match or complement the colors in your logo.

4. Get a Feel For It: An envelope is a like a handshake, so choose a product that makes the right impression. "Run your fingers across it to get a sense of its weight, thickness and how it feels," Kido suggests. "You want an envelope that looks and feels great and that will hold up well in the mail." Select a material that doesn't smudge when you're hand-addressing and holds mailing labels securely.

5. Protect the Contents: For important documents, Charles Alvino, project specialist with the pack and ship team at Staples, recommends a padded mailer with stiff edges. Security envelopes with special linings, and Tyvek® envelopes, provide extra protection.