Is the Post Office rejecting your labels?

I wanted to share with you a lesson I learned at the Post Office the other day in hopes that it might help those of you who are in the same boat as I.


I've been using these same labels on my envelopes for 5 years or more. Suddenly, they're no longer acceptable in a postal system that has completely automated standard letters. Apparently, because my return address is so close (on the same 4" label) to the recipient's address, the machines are reading mine before it reads the other and all of my letters are being returned.

I'm very sad about this because I loved these labels and they look great on the red envelopes I use. On the other hand, I have to be practical. Don't know what the new solution will be.

In the meantime, they told me at the PO that the letters should go through if I just put an X through my return zip code. The machine reads the X and is forced to scan below it.


I was further told that these labels would still be fine for packages, which are not machinable. That's a good thing since I have 300+ already-labeled envelopes just waiting to be stuffed with copies of I'd Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.

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12 thoughts on “Is the Post Office rejecting your labels?”

  1. Well, I an glad that you can use it for the book I am anxiously awaiting! That’s kind of a bummer, though, but I’ll remember to keep the address far away from the return address. It really is a great and catchy label.

  2. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Cyndi: Nope, they’re just on the label sheets and I only print up a few at a time, so I haven’t wasted envelopes. Thank heavens. I just need to find another solution–quickly.

  3. Did you create the labels? If so, can you make the font of “artbiz” smaller, so as to allow the address to move closer to the corner? Cyndi, I like the idea of putting them on the back flap. Is the PO still ok with that?

  4. Here’s another tidbit on the PO, just in case. I use the large postcards for mailings. I leave the back clear so I can change my message. One batch I printed vertically and left the bottom part of addressing. Apparently that is considered a “flat” and it costs another full rate stamp to send out (so each postcard wound up costing 84 cents). Luckily that was a small mailing. needless to say I print all my messages horizontally now!

  5. Alyson, you print your TO and return address on the same label? I guess I never thought of doing that, I’ve just always made them separate. Is there any advantage to printing them on the same label?

  6. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Allison: Yep, that’s what I’ve done to this point. The old advantage was that it was more attractive, less fussy than having multiple labels. It also used up fewer labels. This, however, has been outweighed by practical matters. Clearly now there is a disadvantage in that the PO won’t deliver them.

  7. You are absolutely right about them looking really SHARP on your red envelopes! I use 3.5 x 5″ labels and haven’t had a problem yet (and my logo and return address are pretty large-sized).

  8. You could try cutting them in half, place your address in the top left corner and still use the blank part for the send-to address? It takes one more step, but it would save your logo/labels for now.

  9. Bummer….I had a similar experience though I was in the P.O. mailing a bunch of promotional envelopes and the woman behind the desk told me the P.O. would return them for the same reason you got. I had to take them all back and repackage them as well as redesign my label. Sorry for the pain–can you adjust the label just a tad to make it work. I hate to see the big x–it makes me think something’s wrong!

  10. Alyson B. Stanfield

    David: Maybe the larger labels will do the trick. I’ll have to ask about that. But Anne Leuck Feldhaus sent me a card recently and she had a darling label on there that sounds like what you are describing. Had no problem getting to me, although it wasn’t postmarked. Strange. I’m wondering if putting the address vertically instead of horizontally might throw off that darned machine. I’ll have to ask about these two tricks next time I’m in the PO. Not too much is lost for now. I only print however much I need to use in the short term–so only a couple of sheets. I just have to plan for the future. Thanks, all!

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