Types of Envelopes

There are several types of envelopes available for nearly every type of mailing or shipping you need. Office supplies stores--including FedEx, Office Depot, Office Max and Staples--will carry all of the types of envelopes outlined below. Post offices also sell flat and padded envelopes in select sizes.

  1. The History of Envelopes

    • Although it is unclear who invented the envelope, stamp collector and president of Envelope Manufacturers Association Maynard Benjamin believes the Babylonians were the first people to create a clay casing to protect important documentation on clay tablets. The Egyptians rolled their papyrus paper into tight scrolls to conceal and protect written contents.

    Standard Envelopes

    • Standard envelopes are 3 x 6 inches, and you can purchase envelopes of this size with security linings. This feature is a pattern printed on the interior of each envelope so that confidential contents sealed inside are not easily readable.

    Business Envelopes

    • Business envelopes are longer, with dimensions measuring 4... x 9½ inches. Like standard letter envelopes, business envelopes are sold with or without the patterned security feature.

    Larger Envelopes

    • The most common sizes for larger envelopes are 9½ x 12 inches and 10 x 13 inches. These envelopes have an adhesive strip on the top flap that you moisten and fold down to seal. They also have a two-prong gold fastener for extra secured protection. To use both fasteners and adhesive, you must first secure the fasteners by placing the prongs through the single-hole punch on the top flap before wetting the adhesive.

    Padded Envelopes

    • Sizes for padded envelopes include 6 x 9 inches and 9 x 12 inches. The entire interior of these envelopes is lined with bubble wrap, which cushions contents during transit.

    Uses For Each Envelope Type

    • If you want to mail a casual letter, the standard envelope is sufficient. Business envelopes are ideal for formal letters, bills and rebate forms. Résumés or other documents and photos that you do not want folded are best shipped in larger envelopes. For added protection against any folding or creasing before it reaches your intended destination, insert a piece of cardboard to mail with your documents. The post office sells large envelopes with and without cardboard inserts. If you want to ship or travel with easily breakable contents, use a padded envelope.

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