Postcard Size Guide
Standard Postcard Size
The "standard" postcard size is about 4 inches by 6 inches. This is the typical, fairly rectangular shaped postcard. Also, it fits within the U.S. Post Office's regulations to receive the special "postcard rate" postage.
However, many postcard makers use slightly different sizes for different reasons. Some people prefer how a slightly more boxy postcard looks. Some printers just want to get the most amount of postcards out of a large sheet of paper with the least amount of cutting.
Whatever the reason, you'll find that the standard postcard size will often vary as much as a 1/2 inch in either dimension from a 4 x 6 postcard.
Some popular postcard printers' sizes:
- Hallmark: 4.3" by 6"
- Postcards.com: 4" by 6"
- Cafepress.com: 4" by 6"
- Zazzle.com: 4.25" by 5.6"
Other Postcard Size Options
Beyond the standard postcard size there are many size options available that serve different design requirements.
Basically, a "postcard" can be any size between 3.5" by 5" and 6.125" by 11.5". As long as your postcard is thick enough (but less than 1/4 inch thick) and fits somewhere within the tiny dimensions and the huge dimensions it will be able to be processed on the Post Office machines.
If you want your postcard to stand out from the rest, or if you just have a lot to say, you don't have to be restricted to the standard size. Just make a bigger postcard! (I know my politicians love to send out the giant postcards right before an election...)
Some of the typical large sizes available for postcards are:
- 4 x 9 (long and narrow - like a sheet of paper folded in half the long way)
- 5.5 x 8 (just a big postcard - like a sheet of paper folded in half the short way)
- 6 x 11 (pretty much as big as you can get)
If you're designing your own postcard make sure find out which size options your printer offers before you start designing. Don't want to waste time making the perfect postcard if you can't print it.
Also, remember that these larger postcards will cost you more to mail. And if you try to mail something larger than 6-1/8" x 11-1/2" you're going to pay a lot more!
Why care about postcard size regulations?
To save money, of course!
When making postcards, whether for business or personal purposes, you should know that the United States Post Office has size regulations on postcards. Basically, the Post Office has a range (small to large) that a postcard has to fit within.
Postcard Size Range:
Min: 3.5" x 5"
Max: 6.125" x 11.5"
Any piece of mail that is too small or too large cannot flow through the processing machines, so the Post Office won't deliver it. Or they'll charge a heck of a lot to do it!
Send Postcards through Standard Mail:
If you intend to mail your postcards through "Standard Mail" then your postcard can be any size within reason. However, the cost is based on size, shape and weight. A smaller, standard size postcard will cost less.
Standard Mail is only for business use. You can't send personal messages. Entire piece must be pre-printed (no handwriting). You must mail at least 200 pieces at a time. It does not offer forwarding and return service.
First-Class Postcard Regulations
"First-Class Mail" has a fairly narrow range for the dimensions that can be sent using "postcard rate" postage. Anything beyond that will cost you "letter rate" postage.
First-Class Postcard Size Restrictions:
Minimum: 3.5 inches by 5 inches (0.007 in. thick)
Maximum: 4.25 inches by 6 inches (0.016 in. thick)
Additionally, odd shaped postcards (square or really thin and long) will cost even more to mail than just large, rectangular postcards.
So if you want to get really creative with your postcard design and DO NOT have a lot of postcards to mail, then you may not care about standard postcard regulations. The cost to mail each postcard will just be more.
The difference between each rate bracket is actually quite a lot (relatively).
First-Class Postcard Rate: $0.28
First-Class Letter Rate: $0.44 (57% more expensive)
Odd Shaped Rate: $0.64 (129% more expensive)
So, if you have about 100 postcards to mail out (say a wedding "Save the Date" postcard) then mailing at postcard rate will save you $16. But, if you want to get fancy with your cards and make them perfectly square you'll end up paying $64 instead of the basic $28 just for the stamps.
If you need to send out 1,000 postcards to customers then the First-Class rate will cost you $160 more than postcard rate.
Paper Weight for Right Postcard Thickness
If you are ordering postcards from a printer then you most likely do not need to worry about the thickness of the paper the printer is using. They (probably) know what they're doing.
If you want to print your own postcards then you need to make sure that you buy the right "weight" of paper.
The Post Office says that paper that is about as thick as an index-card is thick enough. Probably, any paper that is labeled "cardstock" will work. But let's get technical.
In the U.S. bulk amounts of paper are often sold with the "thickness" labeled as "weight" and will be measured in lbs. (or #). Technically, this isn't perfectly correct, but to explain this exactly would get into paper / printing specifics that aren't important for this article. The thing to remember is that you want to buy paper with the right "weight" to be a postcard.
What's the "weight" already?!
39# paper = about .0072 inches thick per sheet
87# paper = about .015 inches thick
Remember, these thicknesses are approximate. If you buy a really fluffy sort of paper it might have a lighter weight, but a larger thickness (meaning it's not dense). But, you'd have to get really weird paper for this to be a problem.
Generally speaking, any paper weight between 40 lbs. and 85 lbs. should be postcard thickness. If you're worried, aim for 60 lb. paper.