Mailing Magazines

Containing Costs | Mailing Labels | Databases | International Mailing

Containing Costs

Mailing Magazines can be very expensive. There are ways you can control or perhaps reduce your mailing costs while keeping good delivery times. Mailing costs are affected by four factors: the weight of the magazine, the magazine size, where it is put into the postal system, and the kind of presort address used. The number of U.S. Postal Service regulations for mailing is mind-boggling but let’s focus on what can save you money.

The Right Weight:

If a piece weighs more than a pound it is processed differently by U.S. Postal service and have different regulations. Since most magazines weigh less than a pound we will review the policy of these regulations.

Any magazine that weighs less than 3.3 ounces, the mailing rates are fixed but determined by how the mail is sorted. This is where knowing the ins and outs of the regulations can save you some money. (For reference generally 3.3 oz’s consist of a 32 page magazine on a 60# paper.)

If your publication weighs more than 3.3 ounces, the postal cost will increase as the weight increases.

The Right Size:

The Post Office’s term for a magazine is a “flats” (because they lie flat!) Flats should be no larger than 12 by 15 inches in size (the standard newsstand magazine in the USA is 8 3/8 x 10 3/4). An option for mailing flats is it can also be mailed in a clear plastic envelope (otherwise referred to as polybagged) with labels. Most magazines are sent as printed and labeled either by ink jet or with a Cheshire label.

The Right Mailing Location:

Where your mail makes a difference. The basic rule is: the closer to the final destination your mail is put into the postal system the less expensive it will be. Sorting mail is the key to selective proper magazine mailing. The most precise sorts available are through the BCC “Mail manager Z010” postal software. With this all mail is sorted to what is grandly termed the “enhanced carrier route line of travel sort” in other words, how the mail carrier actually travels to deliver the mail. The more closely your mail can be sorted to agree with the route the mail carrier travels, generally, the cheaper the cost to you.

The Right Method:

The are three major methods magazines can be mailed; First-Class Mail (fast and expensive), Standard or Bulk Mail (slow and cheap) and Periodical (fast and cheap but difficult to achieve). There is an application fee associated with a periodical permit and several audits will be conducted annually to varify periodical standards are being met (subscriber limitations, percent advertising and other circulation requirements apply). A Periodical Permit’s mailing costs are based on advertising percentages within each issue.


The indica is a special “postage stamp” that tells the Post office the method that your magazine is being mailed and who to bill for that mailing. It is printed either right on the magazine, on its mailing label or to the outside of the package the magazine rides in. There are very strict requirements about indica content, placement locations, size and design.
Nothing remains the same particularly postal regulations. That’s why we encourage you to review the Domestic Mail Manual available from the Post Office or on line at

Labeling Magazines for Mailing

The cover of your magazine should grab readers’ attention. The less that detracts from the photo and the captions the better. You do not want or have to ‘mess up’ the design and cover art with a big mailing label area. While many covers do include the UPC bar code it is not necessary to have your mailing label and indica on the cover. U.S. Postal Service regulations are pretty picky about labels. While you must comply with the regulations you do have several choices for where to place the mailing area and mailing indica box.

Label Options

The mailing/label information must be placed on the front or back cover. The label may be parallel or perpendicular to the spine, depending on the size of the publication and preference of the publisher. Mailing labels can be printed by ink jet directly onto the magazine cover or Cheshire (adhesive type labels) labels can be generated. Designers, keep in mind…where the label is placed on the magazine can affect the overall design and look of your magazine cover.

Ink Jet:
Ink Jetting is a process in which individual addressses are “jetted” on each indiviual magazine. There must be a white space provided to ink jet either on front or back cover area The ink jet image does not have to be very large but it must be at least 1 7/8″ X 3 1/2″ and should be at least 1/2″ from the spine. A common use of Ink Jet space is the bottom two inches of the back cover.

Cheshire Labeling:
Cheshire labels are similar to “peel & stick” labels. They will have the receiver’s address and may also include the postal permit. If the indica is not printed on the Cheshire label than you must provide clear space for the label.

Magazine Print and mail facilities generally have a Mailing Service Manager that can generate your labels and can clarify and verify that your design and labeling meets postal regulations.

Mailing Lists (databases)

The heart of Magazine mailing is to have a complete and up-to-date mailing list. Before you send a mailing list review the “Mail List Submission Guidelines“. This will give you a good overview and answer many of your questions.

Duplicate names on a mailing list will cost you money. Make sure before submitting your list to the mail facility that you have already de-duped, purged and or merged and list is ready for importing into the mailing software.

Many mailing files contain much more information than what is needed for just addressing labels. Therefore, be sure the field and label layouts clearly identify each field (column headings) that are needed to create the address label. Each label line allows for up to 30 characters so be sure to set your field length at 30 characters to avoid information getting inadvertently cut off.

Labels can include up to six lines of copy. That means you can even include a special message along with the address. The mailing program will generate the USPS bar code so you won’t need to include that in your files.

For complete details please review: “Mail List Submission Guidelines

International Mail

International mail from the USA has a few more requirements. A big requirement is that magazines being mailed internationally can not be mailed without some kind of covering. A return address must also be visible. Depending on the number mailing this is best accomplished by pollybagging or having 9 x 12 return addressed magazine envelopes made. The USPS is not the only option for International magazine mailing. A couple other competitive companies such as Spring and Worldwide Express’s Airbourne division offer competitive rates with quick delivery times. With world wide trade expanding expect services to continue to improve. Expect to pay between $6-8 per pound for International magazines to be mailed. This usually equates to between $2.50-$4 per magazine.


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