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Familiarize yourself with envelope manufacturing terms


Adjustable Die Cut – Adjustable envelope die used to cut OECS or OSSS from pretrimmed paper.

A-Size – Announcement envelope that is open side seam with a square flap.

Artwork – A general term used to describe photography, negatives, drawings, paintings, hand lettering, etc., prepared to illustrate printed matter.


Bangtail – Perforated coupon attached to the body of a return envelope that must be torn off before the envelope is sealed. Used for remittance envelopes, order envelopes, and other direct mail applications.

Baronial – Type of envelope recognized by large pointed flap, usually open side with diagonal seams. Used most often for social correspondence, including announcements, greeting cards and invitations.

Blank – A die cut sheet of paper before it is folded into an envelope.

Bleed – In printing, an image that extends off the edge of the page or envelope. Envelopes with bleed generally must be printed before they are folded, since the fold line runs through the printed image.

Bar Code – Used by the Postal Service to speed mail processing. Generated by the Post Office as mail passes through OCR scanners or pre-printed by the manufacturer. If not pre-printed, space must be available on the bottom right of the envelope for the bar code.

Bulk Pack – Efficient way to package envelopes by putting directly into a corrugated carton. Not utilizing an interior box, which is in turn packed into an exterior carton.

Blind Emboss – Raised design stamped in paper, without foil or ink. Can be done before the envelope is folded so that design is not debossed onto the back of the envelope.

Bond Grade – Grade of writing or printing papers, often used for letterheads and matching envelopes. Characterized by strength, rigidity, relatively low opacity, and erasability. Sometimes with cotton fiber content.

Booklet – 1) A large, open side envelope for catalogs, annual reports, and brochures. This style is gaining popularity over traditional Catalog (Open End) envelopes because it can be used with automatic inserting machines. 2) Also refers to Commercial Open Side envelopes with two side seams.

Brightness – The light reflecting property of a paper. The more light it reflects the higher its brightness. A bright sheet offers the best print quality and appearance.

BRE – Stands for Business Reply Envelope. Normally printed one color with standard business reply copy.


Camera Ready – Copy or art, which is ready for photography in the plate making process.

Catalog – Describes a large OpenEnd envelope usually with a center seam.

Cello – Abbreviation for cellophane, which is a window material that is very clear. Due to the expense, cello is not used as much as it once was. It can be too reflective, causing errors in OCR reading.

Chip Box – A chip board folding box, which is somewhat inexpensive in packaging envelopes.

Clasp – Metal fastener sometimes used with remoistenable gum on Booklet and Catalog envelopes, allowing for repeated opening and closing of the envelope.

Color Key – An overlay proof composed of an individual acetate sheet for each color.

Commercial – General term for the most common style of business envelopes. Open Side usually with diagonal seams.

Corner Card – Return address and other identification of the sender in the upper lefthand corner.

Cross Cut – Envelopes cut so that the paper grain is perpendicular to the paper side seam fold. This makes the envelope more difficult to fold.


Deckle Edge – Feathered edge on envelope flap deliberately produced for decorative purposes. Formed especially on formal announcement or invitation envelopes.

Diagonal Seam – Seam style frequently used in Commercial Open Side envelopes, invitation and baronial envelopes. It’s name is derived from the seam running from the back corner of the envelope diagonally to the middle.

Die – Precision tool used to cut out envelope blanks, windows or other shapes.

Duotone – A common printing technique by which a halftone is printed in two ink colors, most often black and another color.

Dylux – A fast selffixing proofing paper that is sensitive on both sides.


Embossing – A process performed to stamp a raised image into the surface of paper, using engraved metal embossing dies, extreme pressure and heat. Embossing styles include blind, register embossed, and foil embossed.

Expansion Envelope – Envelope with a gusset or box bottom and sides, allowing it to expand for bulky mailings.


Face – The side of the envelope without the seams.

FIM – Stands for “Facing Identification Markings” preprinted bars on the face of the envelope, as specified by the Postal Service to expedite the automated processing of Business Reply Mail. The vertical bars are located at the top right corner of the envelope.

Finish – The surface properties of a paper, including smoothness, gloss, absorbing ability and texture. A paper can be smooth or textured, coated or uncoated, soft or hard. Different finishes offer different printing characteristics and their own relative advantages and disadvantages. The finish of an envelope paper contributes greatly to the emotional judgment about quality. A slightly textured surface, such as vellum or antique, can impart a sense of higher quality than the very smooth surface of a white wove.

Flexography – A form of rotary letterpress using flexible rubber or photopolymer plates. Most common type of envelope printing fast drying process, suitable for screens of 6585 lines. Least expensive printing process mainly for line type and simple logos.

F.O.B. – Stands for “Freight on Board” without charge for delivery to and placing on board a carrier at a specified point; the point at which the shipping charge is calculated.


Glassine – A smooth dense semitransparent paper. Sometimes used as window patch material, but losing popularity compared to the new polystyrene materials, which are more transparent and less sensitive to moisture. Glassine is biodegradable and recyclable.

Grain – Direction in which most of the fibers lie in a finished sheet of paper. Paper folds more easily with the grain. It offers greater resistance to being torn across the grain, and demonstrates greater tensile strength in the direction of the grain.

Gripper Edge – The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press or folding machine. No printing can take place on 3/8″ of the paper on the gripper edge. Referred to as a “common edge” when jogging a stack of paper.

Guide Edge – The side of a printed sheet from which copy registers left to right. This is the second “common edge.”

Guide Marks – A method of using cross line marks on the offset press plate to indicate trim, centering of the sheet, centering of the plate.

Gum – An adhesive made with a plant base to seal paper envelopes. Some gums take moisture to seal, others such as latex gums will adhere to themselves.


Halftone – Picture with gradations of tone, formed by dots of varying sizes in one color.

Hard Box – An envelope box made from either Eflute corrugated or a coated wrapped rigid board.


Indicia – Postage permit located on the upper right corner of an envelope that is preprinted and requires no postage stamp.

Inside Side Seam – Seam construction on Catalog or Booklet envelope where the seam glues beneath the back panel.

Inside Tint – Printed design on the inside of the envelope. Used for added opacity and/or for graphic interest.


Jet Printing – A general term for printing presses set up to print already manufactured envelopes. Allows for fast, high quality turnaround. Can print screens up to 133 lines per inch.

Jogged – Process using vibration to keep a stack of paper in register after printing.


Laid – Type of paper finish, characterized by a closely lined appearance.

Latex – An adhesive used to seal envelope flaps that sticks to itself. It is usually placed on flap and back of the envelope. When the two gum surfaces meet, it seals. No moisture is required.

Latex Auto Seal® – See Latex.

Lift – A stack of jogged paper (approximately 150200 sheets) placed on a cutting table to be die cut.

Litho – A generic term for any printing process in which the image area and the nonimage area exist on the same plate and are separated by a chemical repulsion. Usually oil based offset printing.


Manila – 1) A semibleached chemical sulfate paper. Not as strong as Kraft, but with better printing qualities. 2) Light ecru commonly associated with manila stock.


Nested – Envelopes are comingled on press sheet. A nested layout normally cannot be stepped.


Offset Paper – Also known as book paper. General description of any paper primarily suited for offset printing. Can be coated or uncoated. Characterized by strength, dimensional stability, lack of curl and freedom from foreign surface material. Finish can be vellum or smooth.

Offset Printing – Also know as web offset or lithography. Offers highest degree of precision, clarity, and quality. Uses screens of 133 lines or more, printed flat sheet, then folded. Can be solid PMS, in multiple colors and process printing.

Opacity – Paper property that measures the degree to which paper stops light from passing through. The more opacity a paper has, the less showthrough it permits of the envelope contents. Inside tints can be used to compensate for lowopacity papers.

Open End – Style of envelope in which the opening is on the shorter side.

Open Panel – Die cut opening for a window envelope that does not have patch material behind it.

Open Side – Style of envelope in which the opening is on the longer side.


Patch Material – Translucent or clear material covering windows. Made from plastic or paper.

Peel & Stick – Term used for adhesive that is exposed by peeling away coated release paper. Will adhere without moisture.

Point – In paper, a unit of thickness measuring onethousandth of an inch.

Printing – The choice of a printing process depends upon the size of the run, the complexity and quality of the camera ready art, the number of ink colors, the paper stock and the level of quality desired.


Ream – 500 sheets of paper.


Seam – The back of an envelope where it is glued together. Center Seam on an Open End Catalog or Booklet where the seam runs down the middle of the back; Side Seam on an Open End Catalog or Booklet where the seam is on the side of the envelope.

Size – The measurement in length and width of an envelope or window.

Split Seal Gum – Broken gum pattern on seal flap to prevent “tabbing.” Gum is broken where flap covers envelope seams; prevents flap from sticking to the back panel during storage in humid conditions.

Stamp Ready – Seal gum is stopped 2″ from the postal stamp side of the envelope. This is done to keep tacking from occurring when a postal stamp is applied.

Straight Grain Cut – Envelope is cut so that the paper grain runs parallel to the side fold. Envelope is easier to fold and has less tendency to curl or warp with the straight grain cut.


Text – Type of high quality paper, manufactured in white or colors from bleached chemical wood pulp and/or cotton fibers. Made in a wide variety of finishes, including antique, vellum, smooth, felt marked and embossed (linen). Often has a matching cover stock. Usually deeper colors than bond or writing grades. It is desirable to use an envelope that matches or complements the enclosure when used for annual reports, brochures or other prestigious mailings.

Thermography – Printing process that produces raised lettering simulating engraving. Used in letterheads and matching envelopes, business cards or announcements.

Thumb Cut – Found on envelopes manufactured without flaps, such as filing and film storage. Can be cut on one side or double thumb cut through, for easier extraction of contents.

Tyvek® – Spun-bonded olefin product manufactured by DuPont. Offers maximum protection and durability at a very light weight. For example, 100 10″ x 12″ envelopes weigh the same as 57 envelopes of the same size in 28 pound Kraft. Tyvek® is unaffected by moisture and inert to most chemicals. Acid, lint and sulfide free. Often used for floppy disk and microfiche carriers where protection from acid, lint, and abrasions is needed.


Velox – The trade name for one of the chloride printing papers made by Kodak; sometimes erroneously used to describe similar developing papers. A black and white print of the halftone image; a screened print. Also referred to as a positive proof, which shows the printing image as seen on final piece.


Watermark – Translucent mark visible when sheet of paper is held up to the light.

Web – A roll of paper used in Web or rotary printing. Also, can be referred to the manufacturing of an envelope where die cutting and folding is done on one machine using a continuous roll of paper.

Window Cutout – Cutout in the body of the envelope positioned to show mailing address, return address and/or special messages. Eliminates the duplication of effort and the potential for error in addressing envelopes. Usually covered with transparent window patch material. Can be left open with no patch, except in Canada.

Wove – Paper having a uniform surface and no discernible marks. Soft, smooth finish, most widely used envelope paper. Relatively low opacity, brightness and bulk. However, recent changes in paper making from acid to alkaline sheets have improved the brightness. Mostly run in white.