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“Envelope Basics: Measuring – Part 1” is part of an occasional series titled “Envelope Basics” that provides an in-depth look at all-things envelopes – elements, measurements, ordering tips and more*.

Measure an envelope. What seemed like an easy enough task when I started working at Tension turned out to be a bit more complicated. I quickly learned a few truths:

  • Envelopes can be referred to by their size (e.g., #9 envelope, #10 envelope), but for the customer envelopes that Tension produces, the precise measurements can vary.
  • There’s a right and many, many wrong ways to measure an envelope.
  • When envelope’s measurements are properly specified, it could reduce the processing time of an order.

Surely, I’m not alone in my envelope size naivety. This blog on how to properly measure an envelope is dedicated to all of you industry newcomers, and our seasoned colleagues looking for a refresher course.

Pre-measurement Checklist

  • Be sure the envelope is empty before you measure it.
  • Use a legitimate scale or ruler.
  • Place the envelope on a flat surface.
  • Capture the measurements to the nearest one-sixteenth of an inch.

Common Envelope Sizes

Tension produces custom envelopes based on your specific requirements, so to us there is no “standard size” envelope. Between our Business, Booklet and Catalog envelopes, there are a variety of envelope sizes you may be familiar with. Learn more about these sizes by clicking here.

How to Measure an Envelope

Event though envelopes are measured from the shortest dimension first, this does not differentiate the height from the width. If an envelope has the seal flap at the top, the dimension from the bottom fold to the top fold is the height. Follow the steps below on how to perfectly measure an envelope:

How to measure an envelope image

Step 1. Orient the Flap

To determine the type of envelope you’re measuring (e.g. open side or open end), orient the flap at the top. If the flap is on the widest side of the envelope, it is an open side envelope. If the flap is on the narrowest side of the envelope, it is an open end envelope.

Step 2. Determine the Envelope Size

Important: measure and state shortest side first, then the longer side.

Step 3. Identify the Score

How to measure an envelope image

Find the groove in the paper where the flap fold is made.

Step 4. Measure the Face

Measure from the bottom of the envelope to the top of the envelope at the score.

Step 5. Measure the Seal Flap

How to measure an envelope image

Flap length is measured from the centermost part of the seal flap to the flap score.

Step 6. Measure the Side Seam Width

The side seam is the area that holds the back to the face of the envelope. The envelope must be fully unfolded and open to reveal the inner seam and properly measure it.

How to measure an envelope image

Step 7. Measure the Throat Depth

Throat depth is measured from the bottom of the envelope to the top of the back of the envelope at its centermost point.

Step 8. Measure the Back

The back is measured from the bottom of the envelope to the center of the top (the lowest point on the envelope).

Measuring the back of envelope

Step 9. Take Window Measurements

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog to learn how to measure a window envelope.

Download Our Guide 

Envelope Basics is a complete guide that details everything you need to select, measure and order the right envelope for your mail campaign.

Whether you’re a seasoned mailer or new to the mail industry, Envelope Basics includes helpful tips for your business or organization. Download your copy of Envelope Basics here.

As always, consult your Sales representative to ensure accurate measurements. Don’t have a Tension Sales Rep yet? Contact us today and we’ll put you in contact with an envelope expert in your area. 

*This blog is intended for informational purposes only. Exact envelope and/or print specifications should be discussed in detail with your Sales Representative.