What is a Postcard?

postcardBecause there was some confusion in the first Mixed Media Club postcard swap, I’m writing this article, with all the specifications. That way, we can all be on the same page in the future!

What the Dictionary Says:

postcard (ˈpōs(t)kärd/) n.
A card for sending a message by mail without an envelope, typically having a photograph or other illustration on one side.

So, a postcard is something designed to mail WITHOUT an envelope. It has to be sturdy enough, and flat enough, to go through the postal machines, and through all the various hands it takes to get it from me to you, without any covering. If you send a postcard in a clear cello envelope, it’s no longer a postcard. It’s a card in an envelope, and the Post Office will call it a First Class letter.

What the Post Office Says:

According to the USPS, postcards must be:

  • Rectangular. Not square, and not any other shape, and no rounded corners.
  • At least 3.5″ tall, 5″ long, and .007 thick.
  • No more than 4.25″ tall, 6″ long, and .016 thick.

    In order to stay within these restrictions, there should be NO DIMENSIONAL EMBELLISHMENTS used in the creation of postcards.

In addition, there are rules about the back side:

  • Backs should be white, or light colored, so postal machines can read them.
  • The bottom .75″ must be left free of images or text.
  • A 1.18″ square in the upper right corner must be free of images, to hold a stamp.
  • The address of the recipient must be on the right side of the back, no more than 2.25″ from the right edge.


This is how the Post Office wants the backs of postcards to look.

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