Helpful Mail Practices

  1. Whenever possible, consolidate outgoing mail being sent to the same address.  The cost will be lower for a consolidated package than for multiple single-rate pieces.
  2.  Whenever possible, fold and place correspondence that is less than five pages in standard #10 size letter envelopes instead of flat envelopes (9" x 12").  A 3-ounce letter costs 45 cents less than a 3-ounce flat.
  3. Do not place odd shaped items, such as service pins or memory sticks, in envelopes that are not padded.  The item could break through during USPS processing and be lost.
  4. Prior to contracting out large mailings, contact the Mail Customer Service Branch (MCSB) for assistance in receiving the best service at the best cost.
  5. Before adding barcodes to mail pieces, contact the MCSB so that the mail can be tested before it is dispatched to the USPS.  This should be done during the design phase for the mail piece.
  6. It is best to capitalize the entire address and avoid using punctuation.  The one exception is the dash between the 5-digit ZIP code and the +4 add-on (e.g. 20892-3333).
  7.  Type or print address information directly on envelopes, or apply computer-generated labels.  This will help eliminate most problems with USPS optical scanning equipment.
  8.  Separate inter-office correspondence, international and domestic mail prior to placing them into the NIH mail stream.

Any questions?  Need assistance?  Please contact the Mail Customer Service Branch (MCSB) at (301) 496-3586 or via email at