Printing terms, Sign terms and design terms

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Glossary of Printing, Signage & Direct Mail Terms

Glossary of Printing, Signage & Direct Mail Terms


Printing Terms

This glossary of printing, graphic design, direct mail and signage terms was created  for today's printing, direct mail and Signage industry. It has been revised and edited to help understand the printing trade by Mitchell's Speedway Press, Association for Postal Commerce, Print USA and others. 

Accordion fold: Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.

Against the grain: At right angles to direction of paper grain.

Alteration: Change in copy of specifications after production has begun.

Artboard: Alternate term for mechanical art.

Author's corrections: Also know as "AC's". Changed and additions in copy after it has been typeset.

Back up: Printing the second side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Banding: Method of packaging printed pieces of paper using rubber or paper bands.

Basis weight: Weight in pounds of a ream of paper cut to the basic size for its grade.

Bind: To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue. or by other means.

Bindery: The finishing department of a print shop or firm specializing in finishing printed products.

Blanket: The thick rubber mat on a printing press that transfers ink from the plate to paper.

Bleed: Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet after trimming.

Blind embossing: An image pressed into a sheet without ink or foil.

Blueline: A blue photographic proof used to check position of all image elements.

Board: Alternate term for mechanical.

Bond & carbon: Business form with paper and carbon paper.

Bond paper: Strong durable paper grade used for letterheads and business forms.

Break for color: Also known as a color break. To separate mechanically or by software the parts to be printed in different colors.

Brightness: The brilliance or reflectance of paper.

Bulk: Thickness of paper stock in thousandths of an inch or number of pages per inch.

Bulk pack: Boxing printed product without wrapping or banding.

Burn: Exposing a printing plate to high intensity light or placing an image on a printing plate by light.

Butt: Joining images without overlapping.

Butt fit: Printed colors that overlap one row of dots so they appear to butt.

Carbonless: Pressure sensitive writing paper that does not use carbon.

Caliper: Paper thickness in thousandths of an inch.

Camera-ready copy: Print ready mechanical art.

Carload: A truck load of paper weighing 40000 pounds.

Case bind: A type of binding used in making hard cover books using glue.

Cast coated: Coated paper with a high gloss reflective finish.

Chrome: A term for a transparency.

Coated paper: A clay coated printing paper with a smooth finish.

Collate: A finishing term for gathering paper in a precise order.

Color bar: A quality control term regarding the spots of ink color on the tail of a sheet.

Color correction: Methods of improving color separations.

Color filter: Filters uses in making color separations, red, blue, green.

Color key: Color proofs in layers of acetate:

Color matching system: A system of formulated ink colors used for communicating color.

Color separations: The process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, or computer generated art for printing by separating into the four primary printing colors.

Comb bind: To plastic comb bind by inserting the comb into punched holes.

Composite film: Combining two or more images on one or more pieces of film.

Continuous-tone copy: Illustrations, photographs or computer files that contain gradient tones from black to white or light to dark.

Contrast: The tonal change in color from light to dark.

Copy: All furnished material or disc used in the production of a printed product.

Cover paper: A heavy printing paper used to cover books, make presentation folders, etc.

Crash number: Numbering paper by pressing an image on the first sheet which is transferred to all parts of the printed set.

Crimping: Puncture marks holding business forms together.

Cromalin: Trade name for DuPont color proofs.

Crop: To cut off parts of a picture or image.

Crop marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.

Crossover: Printing across the gutter or from one page to the facing page of a publication.

Cyan: One of four standard process colors. The blue color.

Densitometer: A quality control devise to measure the density of printing ink.

Density: The degree of color or darkness of an image or photograph.

Diazo: A light sensitive coating used on printing plates.

Die: Metal rule or imaged block used to cut or place an image on paper in the finishing process.

Die cutting: Curing images in or out of paper.

Ding bats: Often used to curse in print or to hi-lite a point.

Dot: An element of halftones. Using a loupe you will see that printed pictures are made many dots.

Dot gain or spread: A term used to explain the difference in size between the dot on film v paper.

Double burn: Exposing a plate to multiple images.

Draw-down: A sample of ink and paper used to evaluate ink colors.

Drop-out: Portions of artwork that do not print.

Dummy: A rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.

Duotone: A halftone picture made up of two printed colors.

Dylux: Photographic paper made by DuPont and used for bluelines.

Emboss: Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief.

Emulsion: Light sensitive coating found on printing plates and film.

Eurobind: A patented method of binding perfect bound books so they will open and lay flatter.

Facsimile transmission: The process of converting graphic images into electronic signals.

Film rip: See Rip film.

Flat: An assembly of negatives taped to masking materials for platemaking.

Flood: To cover a printed page with ink, varnish, or plastic coating.

Flop: The reverse side of an image.

Foil: A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Foil emboss: Foil stamping and embossing a image on paper with a die.

Foil stamping: Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper.

4-color-process: The process of combining four basic colors to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors.

French fold: Two folds at right angles to each other.

Galley proof: Text copy before it is put into a mechanical layout or desktop layout.

Gang: Getting the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet. A way to save money.

Generation: Stages of reproduction from original copy. A first generation reproduction yields the best quality.

Ghost bars: A quality control method used to reduce ghosted image created by heat or chemical contamination.

Ghosting: A faint printed image that appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended. More often than not this problem is a function of graphical design. It is hard to tell when or where ghosting will occur. Sometimes you can see the problem developing immediately after printing the sheet, other times the problem occurs while drying. However the problem occurs it is costly to fix, if it can be fixed. Occasionally it can be eliminated by changing the color sequence, the inks, the paper, changing to a press with a drier, printing the problem area in a separate pass through the press or changing the racking (reducing the number of sheets on the drying racks). Since it is a function of graphical design, the buyer pays for the increased cost.

Gloss: A shiny look reflecting light.

Grain: The direction in which the paper fiber lie.

Grippers: The metal fingers on a printing press that hold the paper as it passes through the press.

Hairline: A very thin line or gap about the width of a hair or 1/100 inch.

Halftone: Converting a continuous tone to dots for printing.

Hard copy: The output of a computer printer, or typed text sent for typesetting.

Hickey: Reoccurring unplanned spots that appear in the printed image from dust, lint, dried ink.

High-bulk paper: A paper made thicker than its standard basis weight.

Highlight: The lightest areas in a picture or halftone.

Image area: Portion of paper on which ink can appear.

Imposition: Positioning printed pages so they will fold in the proper order.

Impression: Putting an image on paper.

Imprint: Adding copy to a previously printed page.

Indicia: Postal information place on a printed product.

Ink fountain: The reservoir on a printing press that hold the ink.

Keylines: Lines on mechanical art that show position of photographs or illustrations.

Kiss die cut: To cut the top layer of a pressure sensitive sheet and not the backing.

Knock out: To mask out an image.

Laid finish: Simulating the surface of handmade paper.

Laminate: To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another.

Layflat: See Eurobind.

Line copy: High contrast copy not requiring a halftone.

Lines per inch: The number of rows of dots per inch in a halftone.

Loupe: A magnifying glass used to review a printed image, plate and position film.

Magenta: Process red, one of the basic colors in process color.

Makeready: All the activities required to prepare a press for printing.

Marginal words: Call outs for directions on various parts of a business form.

Mask: Blocking light from reaching parts of a printing plate.

Matchprint: Trade name for 3M integral color proof.

Matte finish: Dull paper or ink finish.

Mechanical: Camera ready art all contained on one board.

Mechanical separation: Mechanical art overlay for each color to be printed.

Micrometer: Instrument used to measure the thickness of different papers.

Middle tones: The tones in a photograph that are approximately half as dark as the shadow area.

Moire: Occurs when screen angles are wrong causing odd patterns in photographs.

Negative: The image on film that makes the white areas of originals black and black areas white.

Non-reproducing blue: A blue color the camera cannot see. Used in marking up artwork.

Offsetting: Using an intermediate surface used to transfer ink. Also, an unpleasant happening when the images of freshly printed sheets transfer images to each other.

Offset paper: Term for uncoated book paper.

Ok sheet: Final approved color inking sheet before production begins.

Opacity: The amount of show-through on a printed sheet. The more opacity or the thicker the paper the less show-through. (The thicker/heavier the paper the higher the cost.)

Outline halftone: Removing the background of a picture or silhouetting an image in a picture.

Overlay: The transparent cover sheet on artwork often used for instructions.

Overrun or overs: Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. (Printing trade terms allow for + - 10 % to represent a completed order.)

Page count: Total number of pages in a book including blanks.

Pattern carbon: Special carbon paper used in business forms that only transfers in certain areas.

Perfect bind: A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a telephone book, Microsoft software manual, or Country Living Magazine.

Perfecting press: A sheet fed printing press that prints both sides of a sheet in one pass.

Pica: Unit of measure in typesetting. One pica = 1/6 inch.

Picking: Printers nightmare that occurs as the surface of a sheet lifts off during printing. Generally a paper manufactures quality control problem.

Pin register: A standard used to fit film to film and film to plates and plates to press to assure the proper registration of printer colors.

Plate gap: Gripper space. The area where the grippers hold the sheet as it passes through the press.

PMS: The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System.

PMT: Abbreviated name for photomechanical transfer. Often used to make position prints.

Point: For paper, a unit of thickness equaling 1/1000 inch. for typesetting, a unit of height equaling 1/72 inch.

PostScript: The computer language most recognized by printing devices.

Press number: A method of numbering manufacturing business forms or tickets.

Printing Bids: A printing bid is based on planned specifications, normally good for 30 days, may be subject to review and revision upon receipt.

Printing Estimates: Printing estimates are also know as spec bids or budgeting bids or budgeting estimates.

Printing Estimates: A printing estimate is based on planned, but not firm, specifications that shall subject to change and requote prior to submission to the printer.

Printing Quotes: A firm printing price based on final art or digital files, price good for 10 days, and shall be subject to review thereafter.

Pressure-sensitive paper: Paper material with self sticking adhesive covered by a backing sheet.

Process blue: The blue or cyan color in process printing.

Process colors: Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black).

Ragged left: Type that is justified to the right margin and the line lengths vary on the left.

Ragged right: Type that is justified to the left margin and the line lengths vary on the right.

Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.

Recto: Right-hand page of an open book.

Reflective copy: Copy that is not transparent.

Register: To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.

Register marks: Cross-hair lines or marks on film, plates, and paper that guide strippers, platemakers, pressmen, and bindery personnel in processing a print order from start to finish.

Reverse: The opposite of what you see. Printing the background of an image. For example; type your name on a piece of paper. The reverse of this would be a black piece of paper with a white name.

Rip film: A method of making printing negatives from PostScript files created by desktop publishing.

Saddle stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.

Scanner: Device used to make color separations, halftones, duo tones and tri tones. Also a device used to scan art, pictures or drawings in desktop publishing.

Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold better.

Screen angles: Frequently a desktop publishers nightmare. The angles at which halftone, duo tones, tri tones, and color separation printing films are placed to make them look right.

Self-cover: Using the same paper as the text for the cover.

Shadow: The darkest areas of a photograph.

Show-through: Printing on one side of a sheet that can be seen on the other side of the sheet.

Side guide: The mechanical register unit on a printing press that positions a sheet from the side.

Side stitch: Binding by stapling along one side of a sheet.

Signature: A sheet of printed pages which when folded become a part of a book or publication.

Silhouette halftone: A term used for an outline halftone.

Skid: A pallet used for a pile of cut sheets.

Specifications: A precise description of a print order.

Spine: The binding edge of a book or publication.

Split fountain: Putting more than one ink in a printing fountain to achieve special color affects.

Spoilage: Planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot varnish: Varnish used to hilight a specific part of the printed sheet.

Stamping: Term for foil stamping.

Stat: Term for inexpensive print of line copy or halftone.

Step-and-repeat: A procedure for placing the same image on plates in multiple places.

Stet: A proof mark meaning let the original copy stand.

Stock: The material to be printed.

Stripping: The positioning of film on a flat prior to platemaking.

Substance weight: A term of basis weight when referring to bond papers.

Substrate: Any surface on which printing is done.

Text paper: Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.

Tints: A shade of a single color or combined colors.

Tissue overlay: Usually a thin transparent paper placed over artwork for protection uses for marking color breaks and other printer instructions.

Transfer tape: A peel and stick tape used in business forms.

Transparency: A positive photographic slide on film allowing light to pass through.

Transparent copy: A film that light must pass through for it to be seen or reproduced.

Transparent ink: A printing ink that does not conceal the color under it.

Trapping: The ability to print one ink over the other.

Trim marks: Similar to crop or register marks. These marks show where to trim the printed sheet.

Trim size: The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Under-run: Production of fewer copies than ordered. See over run.

Up: Printing two or three up means printing multiple copies of the same image on the same sheet.

UV coating: Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Environmentally friendly.

Varnish: A clear liquid applied to printed surfaces for looks and protection. (UV coating looks better.)

Verso: The left hand page of an open book.

Vignette halftone: A halftone whose background gradually fades to white.

Washup: Removing printing ink from a press, washing the rollers and blanket. Certain ink colors require multiple washups to avoid ink and chemical contamination.

Waste: A term for planned spoilage.

Watermark: A distinctive design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be easily seen by holding the paper up to a light.

Web: A roll of printing paper.

Web press: The name of a type of presses that print from rolls of paper.

Wire O: A bindery trade name for mechanical binding using double loops of wire through a hole.

Wire-O binding: A method of wire binding books along the binding edge that will allow the book to lay flat using double loops. See Wire O.

With the grain: Folding or feeding paper into the press or folder parallel to the grain of the paper.

Work and tumble: Printing one side of a sheet and turning it over from the gripper to the tail to print the second side using the same side guide and plate for the second side.

Work and turn: Printing one side of a sheet and turning it over from left to right ussing the same side guides and plate for the second side.

Wove paper: A paper having a uniform unlined surface with a smooth finish.

Signage Terms

Aesthetics: elements of signage that project a particular level of beauty and value, including aspects of design, color, form, and quality of craftsmanship that appeal to a viewer’s artistic sensibilities.

Animated signs: a sign that uses changes in light and color to create the impression of motion, or that incorporates actual mechanical elements that move. Animated signs may achieve motion through the use of electrical power or by mechanical means, for instance wind currents. Signs that flash on and off give the impression of motion, but in animated signs, the motion is more integral to the design and message.

Awning signs: sign mounted to a building so that it provides information while also serving as shelter. Or signage, usually a vinyl application, affixed to existing awnings. 

Backlighted letters: channel lettering, open-backed or translucent and lit from within or behind, that throws light back onto the support surface to create a halo effect around the letters. (Sometimes called silhouette or halo lettering.)

Ballast: the electrified structure that secures and powers fluorescent lamps.

Banners: portable signage made of a light, flexible material like cloth or vinyl that is hung or strung from hooks or cord. Often used to announce events and openings, banners function well for short-term signage and in-home use, or can be fabricated out of durable materials for long-term reuse indoors and out.

Bench signs: lettering and imagery applied to the back section or other surfaces of public seating, for instance on park benches and bus-stop seating. 

Building fascia: the exterior wall of a building, rising from ground level to the roofline eaves and extending across the full width of the structure. 

Building mounted signs: signage hung from or affixed to the wall or roof of a building.

Cabinet signs: the frame or external structure of a box-like sign that encloses the various functional elements of the design, whether electrical or dimensional components.

Canopy signs: sign, like a marquee, constructed or affixed to a building in such a way that it serves as a canopy over the space below; Or a sign affixed to a canopy.

Carved signs: signs made of wood or synthetic materials with lettering and graphics deeply gouged into the surface of the substrate. These incise carved elements are usually painted or gilded with 23K gold leaf.

Changeable copy panels: a section of an otherwise permanent sign that allows the message to be amended, updated, or otherwise modified using track lettering or dry erase, etc. Popular uses include A-frames and menu boards.

Changeable copy signs: signage structure and lettering that provides panel-support or letter tracks allowing full sign changes and updates. Popular for informational signage and announcements.

Channel letters: three-dimensional letters, often hollow, and may or may not incorporate a light source within. 

Conforming sign: a sign that is constructed and installed in compliance with design, material, and construction regulations issued by the municipality in which it appears.

Contrast: the relative difference or variance in tone and color between elements in a sign that allow each element to stand out; for instance, light colors on a dark background, dark type on light background, or overlays of similar colors from pale to deep tones.

Copy: the text message— words—contained in a sign.

Copy area: the sections of a sign that contain text message as opposed to imagery or pictorial elements.

Cost per thousand (CPM): the cost of bringing a message to the attention of a thousand viewers. CPM is calculated by dividing the cost of a given advertising medium by the number of individuals who will view or be exposed to the medium. Well-designed and displayed signage on buildings or on vehicles is seen by so many individuals on a daily basis that signage is considered one of the most cost-effective modes of advertising, with low CPM.

Custom signs: a sign made to a customer's specifications, including their logo, copy and colors.

Decals: a printed film, usually made of vinyl, with a pressure sensitive adhesive.

Dimensional letters: cast, molded, fabricated, or cut-out lettering or design (logo) applied to create a raised image on signage.

Directional signs: signage that help drivers and pedestrians to navigate a given location or event, whether interior or exterior. For example, parking signs, signs featuring destinations with arrows, etc.

Directory signs: signage listing names and locations for multiple business tenants in a building, or the companies in an industrial or office park.

Double-faced signs: signage with two “fronts,” hung so that the message can be seen from either side (see projecting sign).

Electric signs: signage that contains moving or lighted elements wired for electricity.

Electronic message centers: signage that features changeable text and/or illustrations, using computer software or other technology to automate the messages’ delivery schedule.

Exterior illuminated signs: sign lit by a light source apart from and aimed at the face of the sign (not lit from within).

Face: the “front” of a sign, where the message is carried.

Fascia signs: sign mounted on a building face (wall).

Flashing signs: a lighted sign that turns on and off, creating the illusion of movement and attracting attention to the sign’s message. Flashing signs usually contain a single primary message that is repeated over and over as the sign cycles on and off.

Flat cutout letters: dimensional letters cut from a broad sheet of metal or composite.

Fleet graphics: a vehicle graphic or wrap template applied to multiple vehicles operated by one company. A great way to build brand recognition and gain exposure while off premise. A well designed fleet can make a business appear larger and enhances their visibility in the communities they service.

Fluorescent lamp or tube: the glass tube in fluorescent lighting that contains luminescent vapor that lights up when electrified. Fluorescent lamps are manufactured to fit into standard ballast sizes or electrical receptacles.

Font: a unified design for a set of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, incorporating specifications for standard roman typeface, boldface, italic, and all combinations of these (e.g., bold italic).

Freestanding signs: signage installed on posts or other supports that are not attached to any building or structure. A sign that stands on its own.

Front-lighted letters: channel letter illuminated from behind or containing a light source, with translucent face that conveys light forward.

Full service sign company: signage provider with ability to shepherd a project through the entire process from site selection through engineering, permitting, design, manufacture, and installation. Also, a provider of short and long-term signage, interior and exterior, for all applications. 

Ground signs: freestanding, self-contained sign not supported by posts or other structures.

Incandescent bulbs: a vacuum sealed lamp (bulb) that directs an electrical charge through a filament, which glows hot and gives off light. 

Legibility: ability to decipher lettering and message elements based on design and fabrication quality of signage. How well a sign can be seen and read.

Logo: a unique design composed of text, letters, and/or images that represent a company’s brand or identity.

Mall signage: wall-mounted, banners, POS/POP, and all types of signs located within the interior of commercial buildings or malls.

Marquee: a substantially constructed canopy often of wood, metal, and/or glass components constructed to overhang an entrance to define the space and provide shelter to those entering and leaving. 

Marquee signs: lettering and imagery affixed to a marquee canopy, sometimes refering to the canopy itself along with the message text and images. Typical marquee signage is found at the entry to theaters and movie houses overhanging the box office and announcing current and future shows.

Menu boards: changeable copy signs, typically used by retailers to list items and prices of good currently offered, or by food service and restaurateurs to describe daily meals offered. Often constructed with use of track lettering. 

Message centers: variable message sign controlled by computer or other off-site means, allowing message to be updated from a remote location.

Mobile signs: sign mounted on a flatbed or other vehicle for transportation to various locations where it is temporarily being used. 

Monument signs: a freestanding, low-profile ground sign.

Neon signs: sign fashioned from continuous hollow tubing bent in the shape of letters or images, filled with gases that glow when an electrical current is passed through the tubing. 

Neon tubing: hollow tubing that is bent into shape and filled with various inert gases that glow different colors when electrical current is passed through them.

Off-premise signs: a sign not directly associated with the property or location at which it is displayed; e.g. outdoor advertising or event announcements displayed at locations unaffiliated with the product or event that is the subject of the sign.

On-premise signs: signage related to the goods and services offered at the property or location at which it is displayed, such as store names, theater marquees, building directories, monument signs, POP banners, etc. 

Open channel letters: dimensional letters with open fronts that, when illuminated, reveal the light source. At times, open channel letters use a sheet of transparent material to protect any interior elements. 

Painted wall signs: wall-mounted building sign with lettering and imagery on face surface.

Pan channel letters: I have no idea. Three-dimensional letter with sides and back constructed to hold embossed or debossed panel for front of letter. 

Pan faces: a three-dimensional sign face (front) that includes molded raised or inset design elements; sometimes called embossed or debossed face.

Permanent signs: durable signage mounted or affixed for long-term use, not easily removed, and resistant to weather and other wear and tear.

Point of Purchase signs (POP; also Point of Sale, POS): signage posted at the location of goods and services offered for sale, advertising items or special sales. 

Portable signs: signage not permanently affixed to a building or ground, nor wired for electricity or other utility, and easily removed to another location with little or no need for tools or special equipment.

Post and panel signs: sign installed by mounting on a single or multiple support posts.

Projecting signs: building-mounted sign installed perpendicular to the fascia of the building (appropriate mounting for double-faced sign).

Push-through: lettering or logo image cut through the sign face and backing material and mounted or inlaid so the sign looks as if the lettering or image had been “pushed through, up, and out” of the sign. Sometimes push-through lettering is backlit through the sign, or the fascia of the lettering is translucent to allow lighting the imagery from behind. 

Pylon signs: freestanding sign with visible supporting posts or other foundational structure.

Raceways: for electrical signs, the enclosure that holds sign elements, which may also be the structural element that is mounted on a wall or other support element.

Readability (also called “conspicuity”): how well the sign can be perceived and understood by viewers; the level of clarity that allows the message to come through.

Returns: for channel letters, the sides of the letters.

Reverse channel letters: channel letter with opaque face and side walls.

Roof signs: signage mounted on the roof of a building.

Sidewalk/sandwich signs: portable and relatively lightweight signage constructed to stand independently, not mounted or affixed to its location, often fabricated as A-frame. 

Signs: graphic or visual display to inform viewers about the particular location, and/or to advertise a company, product, service, or event.

Sign band: the area above the entrances to a tenant spaces in a multi-tenant complex where the tenants can post signage specific to their occupancy.

Signage: aggregate of signs for a particular use or location

Single-face signs: a sign with only one side carrying the message.

Stationary signs: a sign that is mounted in a permanent manner, usually including electrical power service that makes it difficult to move the sign without specific tools or equipment.

Stickers: a printed film, usually made of vinyl, with a pressure sensitive adhesive.

Temporary signs: any sign intended for short-term us or not permanently mounted at the display site, including such items as banners, political lawn signs, and construction site panels.

Time and temperature display: an electrified sign with a variable lighted message showing the current time interchanged with the current temperature, often displayed as elements in larger signs created for banks, corporations, institutions, or organizations.

Transformers: electrical equipment that takes available voltage and current at a site and converts it to the levels required by elements in the signage.

Under-canopy signs: sign designed to be mounted under a canopy

Variable message signs: like a changeable message sign, one that is designed to convey differing messages at different times. Also includes changeable message, changeable copy, time and temperature sign, electronic message center, and menu board.

Variance: permission from a municipality for signage or installation to vary from regulated sign specifications. Variances are awarded or denied following a hearing before appropriate boards and commissions with authority to review sign design and usage requests.

Vehicle lettering: text, graphics or logos applied to the doors, sides, hood, roof, windows or tailgates of cars, vans or trucks. One of the most inexpensive and effective ways for businesses of all sizes to advertise while off premise.

Vehicle wraps: graphically designed vinyl configured and cut to fit a specific vehicle that, when installed, encases the vehicle in the graphic design to create a dynamic, eye-catching, mobile advertisement.

Visibility: as in readability, how well the sign can be perceived and understood by viewers; how well the sign can be seen against its surroundings.

Wall signs: sign mounted on the wall of a building.

Wayfinding: as with directional signage, that which assists viewers or travelers in finding their way to a destination.

Window signs (graphics): signs displayed in window, or graphics applied directly to the window, often adhesive backed vinyl permanently affixed to the interior of the glass.


Direct Mailing Marketing terms

/M — Per thousand.

/MM — Per million.

ABANDONED CALLS Those inbound calls which are abandoned before being answered.

ACCESS PERMISSION A group of designations that determine who can access a particular file and how that user can access the file.

ACTIVES Those names on a list that have made a recent purchase.

ADDITIONS Those names added to a list during an update cycle or operation.

ADDRESS The location of a record in a file; also the local address on a mailing list record.

ADDRESS CHANGE SERVICE (ACS) A computerized version of the Address Correction Requested service. To be eligible for this service, the mailer requests an identifying code which must print as the first line of the address block. Information on moves and non-delivery is supplied on magnetic media. Fees for ACS are lower than for ACR.

ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED (ACR) A service of the USPS that can be requested by printing the words "Address Correction Requested" in the upper left corner of the mailpiece. If the address is undeliverable, the Postal Service will provide the mailer with the forwarding address of people who have moved, or will indicate a reason for non-delivery(such as "no such address," "unknown at this address," "forwarding time expired," etc.). The charge for this service varies depending upon the class of mail and the weight of the mailpiece.

ADDRESS CORRECTION SOURCE A service provided by the USPS to help provide corrected addresses for pieces undeliverable as addressed mailed third class bulk.

ADDRESS ELEMENT CORRECTION (AEC) Address records that can't get a ZIP+4 code from CASS-certified software are eligible for AEC. This USPS program, run by the Customer Support Center in Memphis, uses a battery of computer programs that attempt to parse and fix addresses errors so that ZIP+4 and carrier route codes can be determined.

ADDRESSING FORMAT The type style, line length, and number of lines utilized for a given name and address.

ADDRESSING MEDIA The means used to add name and address to a mailing piece. The major ones are cheshire labels, pressure-sensitive labels, computer, or ink-jet generated. Names and addresses are also supplied on telephone cards, IBM cards and sheet listings.

ADVERTISER For a classified telephone list, an indication of payment for Bold Face or multiple lines or 1" space or more. A list of companies who contract for space in a given publication. Advertisers, National - some 13,000 to 14,000 companies with sales and marketing executives who advertise countrywide.

AFFINITY GROUP A classification, either demographic or psychographic, which identifies a given record or list source.

AFFLUENTS That portion of households with 30% or more than the cost of taxes, plus the cost of living (where they are domiciled). This upper crust of America numbers about 25,000,000 or roughly 1/4 of the population. Because they have discretionary income to spend, affluents are a prime target for the "better things in life".

AGE A demographic selection factor, usually by year, and, for some, by exact date of birth; also the period since the last transaction for a given record; also for compiled lists, the date of the directory.

AGENT For lists for mailing, the broker serves as the "agent" of the mailer; the list manager serves as the "agent" of the list owner.

AGREEMENT LETTER A letter signed by the mailer agreeing to usage terms established by the list owner.

ALLOCATION In list work, the way identical records from two or more files are reported (and paid for).

First-in First-out - relatively random. 
Proportional - each record given equal value. 
Prioritized - all records for a given source given full value (with none for other services which match). 
Net List Utilization - a report on how all subtractions from the gross list entered are calculated. 
ALPHABETIC Data which includes alpha characters; filing in alphabetic order.ALPHANUMERIC The use of both letters and numbers for coding or identification.

ALTERNATE DELIVERY SYSTEMS Any means of delivering pieces to households other than the mails. Usually refers to hand delivery in localities of co-op advertising or shoppers.

ALUMNI Graduates of a given school or college. A major list source for educational fundraising.

AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTERCHANGE (ASCII) The code developed by ANSI for information interchange among data processing systems, data communications systems, and associated equipment. The ASCII character set consists of 7-bit control characters and symbolic characters.

ANNUAL LEASE Provision of a given set of records for unlimited use by one mailer for one year. Cost, for compiled files, is customarily twice the single use rental fee per M.

APARTMENT Approximately 19% of the households in America are apartment dwellers in multiple occupancy buildings, including numerous high rises.

APARTMENT (Numbers) Designation by letters or numerals (or both) of dwelling units in multifamily buildings. "Occupant" mailers can reach each apartment by its code, but mail addressed by name only is subject to the vagaries of the local post offices (and the local carrier). In many areas, apartment house mail without apartment numbers is trashed if third class; or returned marked "Undeliverable as Addressed," if first class. As of mid-1995, the USPS had no plan to extend 9 digit zip codes to apartments.

This term is used in a broad-sense to describe any address data, such as suite number, building number, lot number, box number etc., that follows the primary address. The USPS calls the street address (or PO Box or rural route address) the Primary address. Information about the apartment, rural box, floor, suite, etc. is Secondary address data. The Postal Service may not be able to deliver mail addressed to high rises, rural routes, trailer parks, and office complexes without Secondary address data.

APARTMENTS (Numbers) Designation by letters or numerals (or both) of dwelling units in multifamily buildings.

APPEND The action that causes data to be added to the end of existing data.

APPLE TALK A proprietary computer networking standard from Apple Computer for use in connecting Macintosh computers and other peripherals, particularly LaserWriter printers; operates at 230 Kbps.

ARCHIVE (1) To store programs and data for safe-keeping. (2) A copy of one of more files or a copy of a database that is saved in case the original data is damaged or lost. (3) Synonymous with backup, backup copy.

AREA CODES Three-digit codes assigned by the phone company to encompass all phones listed in a given area.

ARRAY Listing of items in sequence order - either ascending (SIC) or descending (Penetration). A means to organize data in a given consistent way.

ASCII (American National Standard Code) For storing information on magnetic media -- tape or diskette -- created by and/or readable by IBM and IBM-compatible PC's, and by UNIX mainframes and PC's. (see EBCDIC)

ASSIGNED MAILING DATE A date for a mailing approved by the list owner to provide "protection" against competitive offers.

ASSOCIATIONS Rosters of members serve as sources for lists by classification.

ATTENTION LINE A prefix before an assigned title added to three-line company only business addresses.

ATTRIBUTE A characteristic or property of a file, directory, or object; for example, its size, last modification date, or flag. Any demographic selection factor.

AUDIO Pertaining to the portion of recorded information that can be heard.

AUDIO PROCESSING In multimedia applications, manipulating digital audio; for example, by editing or creating special effects.

AUDIT BUREAU OF CIRCULATION Auditing entity for consumer magazine circulation.

AUGMENTATION To increase the value of a customer file by utilizing an overlay from another source.


AVAILABILITY REPORT The available records in given classifications in given zip code areas. Usually produced for programs to serve selected neighborhoods.



BABY BOOMERS Large contingent of births between 1946 and 1964. Now entering affluent status.

BACK END All activities at a direct-response operation once promotion is launched. Back-end performance relates to purchase behavior over a given period of time by respondents.

BACK UP To copy information onto a diskette or hard disk for record keeping or recovery purposes.

BAG & BUNDLE MARKERS Asterisks or other symbols to designate the end of a zip, a town, a state, a region - or notation for any other sort for transportation.

BALANCE The remainder of a list or segment left after a test or a test and continuation. "Balances" become the heart of lists banks for future mail drops.

BANK CARDS There are now over 200,000,000 cards issued by banks in circulation; the great majority being Mastercard or Visa. Major consumer lists now include as one of the selectable attributes. The major T&E card (Travel & Entertainment) is still American Express, but bank cards, by their sheer volume are gaining market share.

BAR-CODE A series of vertical bars that represent the numerics of a Delivery Point, a ZIP+4 or ZIP Code. Bar-code on mailpieces can be read by high-speed equipment that automatically sorts mail into a pre-programmed sequence. Mailers obtain discounts for pre-barcoding mail. Letter mail requires Delivery Point Bar-code, representing the ZIP+4 plus the final two digits of the house number. Flat mail can use either Delivery Point or ZIP+4 Bar-code. Under Classification Reform, both First Class Mail and Standard Mail have new subclasses with a separate rate structure for bar-coded mail.

BAR-CODE SORTER A high-speed computerized machine that electronically reads a bar-code and automatically sorts mail for distribution within the postal system, to specific postal facilities, to specific carrier routes, or into the carrier's walk sequence.

BATCH FILE A file that contains a series of data to be processed sequentially.

BATCH JOB (1) An MVS job that the MVS initiator selects from a queue and starts running. (2) A job that is grouped with other jobs as input to a computing system. (3) Synonymous with background job, batch, batched job.

BATCH PROCESSING Data processing is either "on-line in real time" (usually a record at a time,) or in batches in sequential mode. Most list processing is done by batch processing.

BAUD RATE A measure of the rate of speed of information transfer via modem as number of bytes per second. (see BYTE)

BAUDOT Data-transmission code in which five bits represent one character. Use of letters/figures shift enables 64 alphanumeric characters to be represented. Baudot is used in many teleprinter systems, with one start bit and 1.5 stop bits added.

BED SIZE A selection factor for size for hospitals, and nursing homes (Comparable to number of rooms for hotels and motels.)

BEHAVIORAL LISTS Lists which offer selection on the basis of interests or hobbies or item or items purchased. A few growing lists are based on electing initial response to lengthy questionnaires. One unique application is formed from response data requesting specific mailing offers.

BIBLE BELT A primary section of southern and southwestern states which are inclined toward Christian fundamentalism. Belief in creationism is strong in this grouping.

BILL-TO-ADDRESS Business-to-Business mailers often are asked to utilize both "Ship to" addresses (for the receipt of the item by the specifier) and "Bill To" Addresses for the receipt of the invoice. It is good database management to capture both.

BILLING STUFFERS Advertising folders for mail response placed in envelopes along with invoices for Utilities and Department Stores.

BINARY In data processing, typically a data coding system based on combinations of two numbers. Binary can also mean a "yes/"no", on/off or any coding that consists of two alternatives. As a numerical notation, each position of a number is expressed as 0 or 1.

BINGO CARD A prepaid card bound into a magazine listing multiple free offers by advertisers.

BIRTH DATES A selection factor available on some compiled consumer lists--often called exact date of birth. (occasionally "EDOB".)

BIT FIELDS Used to define information in the database contained within one byte. One byte contains eight bits. Each bit is represented as either 0 or 1 (on, off). Adding bit field names or descriptions tells you what job that bit is performing in the byte field.

BITS PER INCH The packing of magnetic data per linear inch of magnetic tape. The usual packing is now 1600 BPI, which is being supplanted by the more economical 6250 BPI.

BLACKS Lists primarily or exclusively of Black consumers or Black-owned businesses, or Black professionals.

BLOCK In mainframe data processing, a group of records. In geodemographics, a piece of land bounded by four streets, although the boundaries can also be streams, rail road tracks, mountains or other surface features.

BLOCK GROUP OR SUBBLOCK A small geographical area within a census tract, defined by the U.S. Census, consisting of a few hundred households.

BLOCK SIZE In mainframe data processing, the number of records in a block. A maximum of 32,000 records can be read at one time. On a magnetic tape, a blank space separates blocks of records.

BLOCKED FILE In mainframe data processing, a file that has had its records separated into blocks, each consisting of a specific number of records. Magnetic media intended to be read/processed by PC's do not require blocking -- such files are unblocked. Records produced in PC formats typically have individual records separated by commas (see Comma-Delimited File) or keyboard tabs (see Tab-Delimited File).

BOOK CLUBS Individual members who have made a commitment to buy books. There are two type of clubs -- negative option and positive option.

BOOKBUYER DATA BANKS Merged, unduplicated, names of bookbuyers from multiple files, or multiple magazines.

BOOKBUYERS Lists of mail order buyers of books, usually by subject matter (Also see Book Clubs).

BOUNCE BACK A subsequent offer by a mail order operator sent to the most recent buyers in the merchandise just ordered. Catalog operators often include another copy of the current catalog which created the order as the bounce back. Bounce backs, if properly coded, prove to be the most productive promotion available to a mail order company. (Outside offers; which may for a fee accompany the merchandise, are package inserts, not bounce backs.)

BOX NUMBER Strictly speaking, this is the number assigned to a mailbox on a rural route. Both the route number and the box number are required for delivery of the mail. The term is sometimes used to refer to a PO Box. For accurate delivery, post office boxes should always be indicated by the full description "PO BOX".

BPA (Business Publishers Association) The auditing entity for commercial and business magazine circulation.

BPI A measure of "packing" of data on a magnetic tape in "bits per inch." Most tapes today are 1600 or 6250 BPIs.

BPS (Bits per second) A measurement used to describe how fast data is transmitted. Usually used to describe modem speed.

BRANCHES Can be offices but usually refers to plants. The top 4,000 manufacturers in the U.S. control the destinies of some 400,000 branch plants. The so-called Fortune 1000 largest manufacturers embrace over 25,000 branch plants.

BRC The acronym for a business reply card.

BRE The acronym for a business reply envelope.

BREAKEVEN Dollars of response, measured by order margin, are equal to the total cost of promotion. (Break-even for the business means the order margin must equal the cost of promotion plus all other costs.)

BROADCAST MEDIA Radio and TV spot advertising used to produce direct response.

BROKER See List Broker.

BROKER DATA CARD See List Data Card.

BROKERAGE COMMISSION A proportion, usually set at 20%, paid to the list broker by the list owner for rental business on a list. If the transaction is arranged by the list manager, both brokerage commission and the managed commission are paid to the list manager. Broker commissions on large list orders are frequently negotiable.

BUFFER A temporary-storage device used to compensate for a difference in data rate and data flow between two devices (typically a computer and a printer); also called a spooler.

BULK MAIL CENTER A central receiving and distribution point for bulk mail. Each of the 21 bulk mail facilities (plus 8 auxiliary sites) receives second, third, and fourth class mail from other BMCs and distributes it to SCFs and delivery post offices within its own area, and also routes to other BMCs the bulk mail originating within its area.

BULK RATE MAIL Mail prepared to USPS standards to qualify for one of three third class discount rates--namely, bulk rate, five-digit zip, carrier-route presort.

BUSINESS LIST A list of establishments or individuals at establishments at business addresses. Includes businesses, institutions, offices of professionals.

BUSINESS LIST--COMPILED RESPONSE A merged list of business mail order buyers from multiple owners.


BUSINESS OVERLAYS Addition of demographic data, primarily SIC classification, number of employees, telephone number to a business customer file.

BUSINESS UNIVERSE The totality (of all business, institutions and offices of a professional) within a given geographic area. For the USA as a whole, this embraces some 10,000,000 unduplicated establishments.

BUYER An individual or establishment that has ordered and paid for a product or service. A mail order buyer, if purchase has been induced through the mail.

BYTE A group of eight adjacent binary digits that are treated as a unit. The basic unit of data storage: one character. A megabyte is 1,024 bytes; a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes; a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.



CANCELLATION List order cancellations usually result in no charge unless the list has been run prior to cancellation, in which case a run charge is usually assessed. Cancellation of a continuity program or a "til forbid" contract must be in writing. Cancellation of a subscription billed with the delivery of the first issue is usually satisfied by marking and returning the invoice.

CAR OWNER Next to telephone registrants, the most important register of data concerning households. Car registration data makes selection by number of cars, type, brand, age, and value possible.

CARBON COPIES Either cheshire labels or sheet listings can be run with two or three copies at the same printing by a computer. Because of the speed of the computer, most copies are now additional originals.

CARD DECK OR CARDVERTISER A direct mail cooperative advertising medium consisting in the main of a pack of individual postage-paid cards addressed back separately to each advertiser. Card decks now proliferate in almost every field of human endeavor - and they are a remarkably efficient means to secure low-cost inquires. Sales via card decks are usually limited to low-cost input type goods.

CARD FILE One of the computerized outputs of a list, usually 3" x 5" cards with phones, for phone canvassing. The PC has virtually replaced all but a few typed lists on outmoded proprietary cards.

CARDS, 3" X 5" Provision of list data on 3 by 5 card stock. Often sorted by sales territories or classification. Usually provided with ten-digit phone numbers for teleprospecting.

CARRIER ROUTE "Carrier route" is used as either a general or specific term. Specifically, carrier routes are primarily urban routes served by a letter carrier, as distinguished from rural routes, highway contract routes, PO Box delivery, General delivery, and delivery to unique ZIP Codes. In the general sense, the term refers to all these types of delivery. Each type of route has a specified sequence for delivery within fixed boundaries. Each route is identified by a code (the carrier route code) consisting of an alpha, which identifies the type of route, plus a route number. This code is used for sorting mail. The typical city zone carrier route consists of 350 or so households as walked by the individual carrier. There are 160,000 listed by the USPS plus 240,000 pseudo-carrier routes provided by major compilers of consumer lists.

CARRIER ROUTE CODE The alphanumeric code provided on a mailing label to identify a given carrier route. The geographical designation for these codes is updated every six months by the USPS which furnishes a CRIS tape (carrier route information system) to be used for carrier-route coding and sorting.

CARRIER ROUTE PRESORT (Carrier Rate Postage) A subclass of third class bulk mail which qualifies for a substantial postal discount for mailers who code and sort mail to the individual carrier route. Software is widely available that will identify the appropriate carrier route codes, and sort mail by carrier route code in accordance with postal specifications. Carrier rate postage is currently the lowest rate available for all classes of mail.

CARTRIDGE A magnetic tape format, the size of an old-fashioned 8-track audio tape. The industry standard at the moment is an IBM 3480 cartridge, and it has become the data storage medium of choice, supplanting round reels of magnetic tape because of greater data storage capacity, smaller size, and increased efficiency. Cartridges are fed through slots and require no tape handling.

CASH BUYER A mail order buyer who sends cash or check along with the order.

CASING The way the postal clerk, in office, sorts mail into a "case" with pigeonholes for his/her route in walk order, then "pulls" the mail in the order in which he/she walks his/her route. The postal case to this day has been virtually uncharged since the time of Benjamin Franklin.

CASS An acronym for Coding Accuracy Support System, a USPS program that sets standards for commercial software that appends ZIP+4 codes. The software must be submitted to an annual audit by the USPS to confirm that the software performs correctly. By passing the audit, the software becomes CASS certified. In order to qualify for postal discounts for ZIP+4 or barcoding, mailers are required to produce a CASS certificate (USPS Form 3553) which verifies that the ZIP+4s have been obtained from CASS-certified software.

CATALOG The provision of a specialty store with a very broad line in print. By 1995, one out of every six pieces mailed by third class bulk mail that carried advertising consisted of bound pieces of 20 pages or more. Such catalogs now total approximately 10 billion and are placed in the mainstream by over 12,000 separate entities, primarily catalog companies and major retailers. Business-to-Business catalogs are believed to be some 10% by volume of catalogs mailed to consumers.

CATALOG BUYER An individual or establishment that has made a purchase from a given catalog.

CATALOG REQUESTS Individuals who have called in or written in for a copy of the catalog.

CD-ROM A very small optically read thin metal disc which holds an extraordinary amount of read only data. Database America, for example, offers all 10,000,000 business records on one CD-ROM disc and over 80,000,000 consumer households with phones or just two CD-ROMs.

CENSUS TRACT A geographical segment of a zip code in metropolitan areas delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau embracing approximately 1,000 households. Major consumer compilers provide demographic profiles for each tract.

CENTROID In direct marketing: the geographic center point of a ZIP code, equidistant from each boundary.

CERTIFICATION The USPS periodically tests the accuracy of the commercial software that uses postal files for processing. Address matching software used in ZIP+4 processing must be CASS-certified annually. On a voluntary basis, vendors may PAVE-certify postal presort software, and may certify the accuracy of the bar-code print image.

CHADS A shorthand term for changes of address. The USPS has prepared a CHAD list for the entire country as a service to mailers. (The goal is to reduce the 15 percent of third class mail, which is undeliverable as addressed today.)

CHANGES OF ADDRESS PROCESSING A means to match known movers to a list prior to mailing to provide correct new addresses for such movers.

CHARACTER A letter, digit, or other symbol that is used as part of the organization, control, or representation of data. A character is often in the form of a spatial arrangement of adjacent or connected strokes.

CHARGE BUYERS Buyers whose credit rating and past history provides them access to mail order merchandise and services on a charge or open credit basis.

CHECK DIGIT A digit computed from analysis of a group of numbers on a given record which calculates to prove that the figures are correct. Nine-digit zip codes have no check digit. To utilize nine-digit for bar coded mail, however, a check digit is mandatory. (In this way, the major share of nine-digit mail now includes a check digit.)

CHECKING COPY A copy of a list, usually a sheet listing, used to monitor response to a mailing or phone solicitation.

CHESHIRE OR CHESHIRE LABEL An ungummed, machine-affixable label prepared on a computer or a word processor.

CHESHIRING Affixing of cheshire address labels by a cheshire-affixing machine.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE A title for an executive at a business or institutional establishment.

CHILDREN Families with children make up a substantial portion of all families in America. Data are selectable by age of child, in some lists by actual birth date. One specialized list here is of newborn babies.

CIRCULATION LIST The actual recipients of a magazine, book club, house organ, or newsletter. Circulation lists may be selectable by term, length on file, how initial order was received, besides any demographic data pertaining to the classification or type covered. A list of regular recipients (paid, controlled, or qualified) of a publication or periodical.

CITY There are over 12,000 cities in the United States with populations of 2,000 or more. They may be selected by population size and area. Can address officials by name or by title.

CITY DIRECTORIES Over 1,500 cities are canvassed, house to house, on a scheduled basis, to provide individualized data on households including occupation. One company, R.L. Polk publishes city directory data on 26 million households. A major source for individuals by certain occupations at home addresses. Includes apartment numbers and phone numbers. (Another major source for occupations is from credit report files.)

CITY SIZE Most major business files provide 8 or 9 ranges of city sizes. This simplifies directing mail, or suppressing mail, to a given city size - say cities with a population of 500,000 or more.

CLASSIFICATION While discretionary income is the most important single factor where consumers or households are concerned, the most important single fact about a business record is the kind of business - it's the classification in other words.

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Small space advertising in the classified columns of mediums noted for mail response has been the starting point for many mail order fortunes. There are fifty classifications available, and literally hundreds of magazines and newspapers that offer mail order propositions.

CLASSIFIED DIRECTORIES There are over 5,000 separate directories of classified listings (yellow pages and blue pages) covering over 14,500,000 listings for some 10,000,000 unduplicated companies, institutions, and offices of professionals. Most such directories are published once a year by the 1,600 or so telephone companies in the United States.

Updated compilations of classified data are the major source of lists providing complete listed coverage of over 10,000,000 separate business-oriented classifications.

CLEANING A term used to describe the updating of a list to remove "undeliverable as addressed" (or aging) data from a file.

CLEARANCE The appraisal given by a list owner for the mailing of a specific package to his or her list. A necessary step in obtaining the right to rent for all mail order buyer lists.

CLIENT/SERVER MODEL A division of labor between computers. Computers that provide a service other computers can use are known as servers.

CLUB PLAN A method of selling on a continuity basis.

CLUBS America is a highly social society, and, as a result, has tens of thousands of different kinds of clubs -- business, social, education, military, political, social service, and religious. Clubs with phones denote those that have their own individual meeting place. The majority of clubs in America meet in the homes of the current chairperson. In small-town America, one of every ten full-time homemakers is the president of a local club.

CLUSTER BOX An outdoor mailbox that is opened by a key (similar to PO Boxes or mailboxes in apartment buildings). They are usually groups of boxes (clusters) built into a wall or kiosk. They are typically found in townhouse developments.

CLUSTERING Selection of names of consumers on the basis of similar geographic, demographic, or psychographic characteristics. Clustering ranges from broad-brush selections by zip code, to very finite, such as members of boards of directors and their next door neighbors. A number of proprietary computer programs seek to break the 100,000,000 U.S. households into 40 or 45 attractively named clusters. Since data is now available for upwards of 40 attributes for almost any single given household, and modeling can identify useful profile collations of such attributes, group clustering tends by contrast to be "too course for comfort."

CODE OR CODING A means to identify a specific promotional effort.

CODE LINE A line on an address imprint utilized to identify basic data about the addressee, such as length of service, dollar volume of purchases, recency of purchase, and so on.

CODING, GENERIC A form of coding (either initially by key, or transmitted later by means of a lookup table) which utilizes a single character to compare results of mail order sales by mediums within each media. Generic coding makes it possible for the computer to produce basic report data assembled by major source.

COLD LIST A prospect list as yet untested by the mailer.

COLLATE A process by machine or by hand, which brings together several individual parts of a mailing or a catalog. A collation may be forty cards into a card deck or twenty coupons into a co-operative, or the assembly of a letter, folder, order form and return envelope into an outer envelope for a solo mailing.

COLLEGE STUDENT A few commercial firms in America compile several million college student names each fall, primarily from College published phone books. In past years, one such list was sponsored by Time Magazine, another by Newsweek.

COMMA-DELIMITED FILE A file produced by, and readable by, a PC, wherein individual records are separated by commas.

COMMISSION The sum paid a List Broker or List Manager or Advertising Agency for the placement of a list rental or a space purchase, or an electronic media "buy."

COMMON CARRIER A private utility company that furnishes communications services to the general public.

COMMUNICATION While internal communication is important, this word in direct-mail terms usually refers to telephonic communication with customers and prospects.

COMPACT DISC A disc, usually 4.75 inches in diameter, from which data is read optically by means of a laser.

COMPILED LIST An original list of individuals or establishments taken from printed records. Such list data can be rented for one time use or leased for unlimited use by one mailer. Compiling is the only methodology to obtain complete coverage of a classification. Most major compilations in addition to names and addresses include phone numbers as well.

COMPRESSED FILE A file that has been "shrunken" via compression to save space. An uncompressed file has had no such compacting.

COMPRESSION An algorithm used to compact or shrink the amount of space a file takes up on magnetic media.

COMPUTER ACRONYMS Five are particularly well known:


KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid! 
GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out. 
DIDO - Duplication In, Duplication Out. 
NINO - Not In, Not Out. 
RAFO - Research and Find Out.
COMPUTER LETTERS Letters produced by a computer can be one of three types: match fill letters in which the name and address is computer generated onto a preprinted form letter; individual complete letters; or computer "spectaculars" in which the letter is only one element computer printed. The new laser printers now can produce two full 35-line letters per second.

COMPUTER NETWORK A means to provide access to a data server or any one of a group of PCs by multiple users.

COMPUTER PERSONALIZATION As more and more data find their way to more and more lists, the capacity of computer-generated correspondence is increasing exponentially and with it the capacity to personalize more and more mail . . . even to catalogs.

Now includes the capacity of the computer to personalize the cover of a catalog and can be extended to personalization on any or all pages of a special "Catalog created for one."

COMPUTER PROGRAM A set of instructions for a computer.

COMPUTER SERVICE BUREAU An independent business offering computerized handling of mailing lists.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL Statistically valid measure of how often, in one hundred attempts, test results can be expected to be within given limits. Confidence level is based not on the number of pieces mailed, but on the number of responses received.

CONSUMER LIST A list of individuals at household addresses. May be a compiled list, a response list, or a list produced as the result of a local canvas. May also be a list of addresses only for title addressing to resident or occupant.

CONTACT NAME On a mailing list, the personal name (or names) of an executive at a given business establishment. For larger companies, can be selected by functional titles. Major business files include a single contact name for over 75% of the business universe.

CONTINUATION A mailing to the same list following a successful (or near successful) test. Usually four to ten times larger than the test if the list universe warrants. May be a roll-out, which usually means a larger part or the entire balance of a list. (Also called Pyramiding.)

CONTINUITY PROGRAM A direct mail sold program designed around delivery of many units based on a single theme. Usually introduced with a starter item or set, followed at timely intervals with a series of allied products - particularly books, music or collectibles.

CONTINUOUS FORMS Computer forms, preprinted or plain, with matching pin holes to either side used to produce computer labels, cards, sheet lists, and reports.

CONTRACT An agreement between an owner or his or her manager and a renter. Most list management agreements are also contractual in nature. Contracts for the promotion of a list entity exist between owners and their list managers. Each list rental is a contracted relationship whether instituted by the owner or the manager or a list broker. Other Direct Mail resources are provided on a contractual basis - including computer services, mailing services, printing services.

CONTRIBUTORS Respondents who have made donations to a charitable or fundraising appeal. Often called donors. Selections of some lists include recency, frequency, and size of donation.

CONTROLLED CIRCULATION Recipients of a magazine free of charge who are qualified to receive it by their classification, lifestyle, or group affiliation.

CONVERSION The process of converting an inquirer, or a trial offer buyer, or a catalog requester to regular customer status via a sale.

CONVERSION OF A LIST Transfer of printed data, almost always by key stroke, to magnetic form for access by a computer. Now also applies to transfer of computerized data from one medium to another. Applies to transfer from tape to diskettes for utilization on word processors.

CONVERSION RATE The percentage of responses converted to customer status.

COOPERATIVE Any form of direct-response advertising involving offers from more than one mailer. Includes billing stuffers, package inserts, cardvertiser decks, split panels, or pages in self-standing stuffers, ride-alongs, and all forms of "marriage mail."

COPIES Extra copies of a mailing list, either on sheet list or labels, often carbons if cheshire, but second originals if pressure sensitive. For a sheet list and a set of labels, two separate computer runs are required.

COPY Five factors cause a change in response: package, offer, timing, list and copy. Direct mail without copy, without words, is tongue-tied and useless.

COST OF MONEY One of the costs of running any business and often forgotten in the analysis of the costs to run a direct-response operation.

COST PER INQUIRY Derived by dividing the number of inquiries elicited into the cost per 1,000 prospecting pieces in the mail. (This is customarily the first of a two-step process. These are the two costs: cost to buy the inquiry and cost to convert an inquiry to customer status.)

COST PER THOUSAND The entire promotional cost of a mailing package in the mail. Includes four separate cost inputs: printing, forms, and envelopes; rental of outside mailing lists; postal costs; and fulfillment (all operations to get packages into the mail stream).

COST TO BUY Like cost per order this pertains to the expenditure for promotion not amortized by the order margin of sales.

COUNT The total number of records that match the criteria in a query.

COUNTS The number of names available (either on an estimated basis or actual) for a given selection; also basic list counts as given for universes in list catalogs, or as given on a list card for a given list.

COUNTY There are some 3,050 political units called counties in the United States. Some 500 of them have a population of over 50,000. While many businesses are now oriented to do their marketing on zip code lines, some firms still utilize counties to define branches and territories.

COUPON CLIPPERS Respondents who make a practice of filling in coupons, bingo cards, or free requests through cardvertisers, but have no intention to buy. By raising qualifications the numbers of these "information hounds" can be reduced or kept under control.

COUPONS Coupons delivered by direct mail have the highest redemption rate; they also have the highest cost per thousand.

COURIER Expedited Nationwide Service for delivery of data packages and documents on a next day (or two day) delivery schedule. Both Federal Express and United Parcel Service maintain accessible computerized status information from pickup to delivery on every shipment. Roadway Express offers a similar service, for shorter hauls, via trucks.

The USPS competitive product, Express Mail, is at lower cost, but entails delivery to the Post Office, and, as yet, cannot provide status or tracing information. Lower cost Parcel Post has no means to trace a package.

CPI The short form for cost per inquiry. Usually refers to the first stage of a two-step (or more) selling operation.

CPM The total promotional cost in the mail of 1,000 pieces. This includes four parts: cost of printing, cost of the list, cost of the postage, and cost of all aspects of fulfillment at the mailing shop. It does not usually include the cost or preparation of the pieces, prior to printing.

CPO (Cost Per Order) Almost no direct mail prospecting is done at a profit. There is a promotional cost to buy a new customer. This cost is the differential between gross profit on sales and cost in the mail per 1,000 pieces.


Cost in mail (all promotional costs) - $300 Per M Order Margin (Gross Profit Per Unit) - $30 If Sales = 8 x $30 order margin = Gross Profit - $240. Cost in mail - $300 Less Gross Profit on Sales -$240 = Loss of $60 $60 Gross Profit Loss - Divided by 8 Sales = Cost of Order of $7.50.

CREATIVE COST The amount spent to produce camera-ready copy for production of a mailing. This is a "sunk" cost which can only be amortized by additional mailings for an original offer. Usually creative cost is disregarded, initially, in measuring the effectiveness of an offer against promotion cost.

CREDIT CARD BUYERS Respondents who buy by phone or by mail and charge such purchases to a credit card.

CREDIT CARD REPORTS Daily logs of credit card transactions provided for authorization and control. (Manual, if under twenty-five per day; usually automated to save clerical time if more numerous.)

CREDIT SALE A direct-response sale to be paid after delivery. May involve financing the account receivable if time payments are involved.

CREDIT SCREENING Formerly included matching a desired list against a credit masterfile and being able to mail some "short form" financial offers only to that small proportion of those matched individuals who passed a given limit. Process was costly and time consuming. Now credit granters are providing lists approved for credit.

CRIS FILE The Carrier Route Information System file contains information about each carrier route in the country, and is updated monthly. The file is used to code address records to permit carrier route presort of mail files.

CRIS TAPE A USPS coding structure or magnetic tape providing a means to carrier-route code a list for third class presort bulk mailing.

CRITERIA If there were to be one word to define the most important aspect of lists, it would be "criteria." Criteria distinguish one list from another, one segment from another, one selection from another.

The four major forms of criteria for selection (which see), are:

Demographics - Attributes Psychographics - Lifestyle
Characteristics Mail Order Characteristics - Relation of Name to
List Owner Physical Characteristics - Mailability Attributes

CROSS-SECTION A statistical selection from a list segment or universe which is accepted as a representative sample. Sampling methods include Nth number, fifth-digit of zip, first letter of last name and randomization.CROSSTAB To tabulate a row of inputted figures, by segments of a column to provide a spreadsheet. Can be accomplished for any pair of accessible variables.

CRT In computerese this describes a cathode ray tube on which customer data (usually) can be displayed and individually manipulated. Off premise data processing uses CRTs to obtain access to data on the lists of others.

CRUTCH FILE A copy of all records being utilized for a given task as a bit of security. Holding a tape copy of multiple keyed prospecting lists, for look up of source codes is a form of a crutch file.

CULTURAL A large number of mailers seek cultural lists for books, records, newsletters, opera, theater, ballet and fundraising. There are cultural-type buyers and cultural-type donors. Some 5 million homes qualify as part of the cultural market.

CURBLINE BOX A mailbox fixed to the top of a post or standard at the side of the road. They are typical of rural and some suburban addresses.

CUSTOMER PROFILE The demographic and/or psychographic description of a typical buyer on a direct response customer file.

A report following matching of a customer file against a masterfile of consumers; an essential first step in the production of a computerized model.

CUSTOMERS For printed data, these are subscribers, or recipients. For charitable and fundraising offers they are known as donors. For products and services sold by direct response they are the buyers.



DAT TAPE Digital Audio Tape: A magnetic medium for data storage, produced on a PC or a mainframe, typically either 4mm or 8mm wide, in a cartridge.

DATA Any and all information available on a list file or made available to augment, correct, enhance, change or effect that file. All demographic or psychographic information found on that file. Hard copy source for conversion to magnetic form.

DATA CAPTURE The act of extracting from each transaction the data required for list building or list updating and preserving such data in magnetic mode.

DATA CARD A printed card providing basic data as to price per M as well as all other list rental information for a given list. Standardized as to size (5-1/2 x 8-1/2" or 8-1/2" x 11") and also for the most part by the information presented. Most list brokers now create such cards from their on-site computer system. The majority of such systems are provided and updated by MIN which also provides the basic data for the Database America list card delivery system.

DATA ENTRY Conversion of selected data of transactions from hard copy to magnetic form.

DATA INTEGRITY A performance measure based on the rate of undetected errors.

DATA OVERLAYS Programatically transforming any items or data from one list to another. Typically utilized to add demographic data (and telephone number) to a business or a consumer customer file. Also includes reverse appending of establishment name or individual name to a given phone number.

DATABASE A database is an organized collection of data. The data can be names & addresses, used cars or any other collection of data. Retrieving the data quickly and easily makes the data useful for analysis or to generate labels, lists, reports, etc. It is a file consisting of all inputs owned or controlled by a single company, including its customers, which can be accessed, retrieved, selected, augmented, and manipulated through multiple channels on line in real time for management of the marketing function.

DATE OF COMPILATION When dealing with compilers, it is good practice to ask the source and date of the data. If the compiler cannot or will not answer these questions, find one that can. There are no secrets on this type of list.

DATE STAMP The date of the order or response, essential if a list is to be expired after a given time. It is imperative to keep the initial date stamp on every record and add on date stamps for subsequent transactions. Two digits usually suffice -- one for month, (with X and Y for November and December) and one for year. (See Julian Dating.)

DBA MAILABILITY SCORE As a standard feature of DSF processing, Database America interprets the results of DSF processing and summarizes them in the form of a Mailability Score. This score ranks records according to the quality of the address, and scores them on a scale of 1-7 to predict the likelihood of the address getting delivered. The Mailability Scores can be used to make better mail/no mail decisions, and to provide direction for file updates.

"DEADBEAT" LIST List of "bad pays" or poor risks which are used as suppress files prior to a major mailing.

DEALER LOCATOR A computer program which identifies the closest retail outlet (or repair shop) for a given product line or brand to the home of the requester.

DEALERIZATION Allocation of given records in given classifications in given areas to match branch, dealer, or sales representative markets. Lists so "dealerized" are usually utilized several times. (See Availability Report.)

DECISION POWER Business mailers have a constant need to reach the individuals (or individuals) who can authorize an order. Often the order is issued by a purchasing agent, but he is not the specifier, the party who has made the decision to order. It is because of this that both "Ship To" and "Bill To" addresses, when given, are of value.

DECODE Almost all direct mail is coded or keyed with a few characters or numbers. A decode convert this short form code into the name of the source.

DECOY Also known as a "seed" or dummy. A record unique to only one list inserted as a control to flag what was mailed, at what time, by whom.

DEDICATED TELEPHONE LINE A line typically set up to facilitate data transfer between computers in different locations, as opposed to access via dial-up modems. Dedicated lines are not as prone to the static and interruptions which can turn the transfer of large amounts of data into a nightmare. Most fax lines are now dedicated.

DEDUPE The process of eliminating all duplicate records that have been identified.

DEFAULT MATCHING Many high-rise locations have multiple ZIP+4 codes, one will identify the building, another a specific floor, and another a specific company. In the process of appending ZIP+4 codes to a mail file, the software tries to make the most specific match possible if there is insufficient address information to verify, for example, a company's ZIP+4, the software will default to a lower level of specificity and assign the proper ZIP+4 for that level.

DELETIONS All updating of lists involves adds (new records), changes (canape adds or changes in a record already on the file) and "kills" (deletions). Simplistically "changes" are often made in two steps: first a kill of the old record then a changed add (as a replacement).

DELINQUENT A mail order buyer who has not paid his or her bill.

DELIVERABILITY The proportion of a list which is deliverable by third class bulk mail. (This varies immensely from 99 percent or more for a list like the AMA list which is updated weekly, to 75 percent or 80 percent for some segments of compiled files which have not been updated in eighteen months or longer.)

DELIVERABILITY GUARANTEE Most compiled files (and virtually no response files) guarantee to pay postage costs for the portion of mail "undeliverable as addressed" which exceeds a stipulated percentage. This guarantee does not apply to duplicate sets. When undeliverables or "nixies" exceed the "guarantee" a refund is made providing the mailer sends proof in the form of the returned pieces to the owner within the stipulated time frame.

DELIVERY DATE The date set by the list renter (or his or her agent) for the receipt of a list at a mailing house or a merge-purge house.

DEMOGRAPHICS The basic demographic selection factors on a list, chief among them for consumers; income, location, age, education, family makeup, length and type of residence and ownership of cars. For non-households, the chief demographic factors are classification, size, and location.

DENSITY From a list point of view, how many records are available for a given geographical area. For floppy disc use, it is essential to know the name and physical characteristics of the disc and the system under which it will operate.

DESCENDING In order from the greatest magnitude to the least magnitude.

DIRECT ADDRESSING A means to address directly to the mailing piece with or without coding and commentary. Now done by creating a mailing tape to run a computer or ink jet. Formerly done through moving the pieces to where the list was maintained primarily on metal plates.

DIRECT MAIL (OR RESPONSE) ADVERTISING The process of placing ads in space or on electronic media to elicit a direct response. (Direct mail describes mailing an offer to a prospect to elicit a direct response.)

DIRECT RESPONSE LIST Individuals or establishments that have responded to offers through the mails.

DIRECTORIES Defined by the American Library Association as "a list of persons or organizations systematically arranged usually in alphabetical or classification order, giving addresses, affiliations, functions and similar data for organizations." In the list world, the major directories are alphabetic and classified (yellow pages) lists of phone registrants. Other directories for list work include industrial directories, trade directories, membership directories, club rosters, and so on.

DISCIPLINE The rigor exercised in converting raw data into magnetic form per such variables as tables, spelling, prefixes, suffixes, prestige addresses. If is principally the differences in discipline which determines the proportion of one list which can be matched against another list.

DISCOUNT List owners provide a discount of 20 percent to brokers for placing business on their lists. In addition, the management fee, if the list if managed, runs from 10 to 20 percent and is, in effect, a sales discount (so far as the owner is concerned) from the published list price.

DISCRETIONARY INCOME The U.S. government stipulates that the line delineating affluence is an income 30 percent greater than the local cost of living plus taxes. The sum above this is "discretionary income" available for the better things in life. Much of direct mail to householders is an attempt to tap this fund of discretionary income.

DISK A means to store list data magnetically for easy retrieval in compact form. Can be a hard diskette, a laser disk, or a floppy diskette. A round, flat, data medium that is rotated in order to read or write data. See also compact disk, hard disk, and diskette.

DISKETTE A thin, supple metallic disc is used as a magnetic means to store transfer relatively small volumes of data from one computer to another. Some producers of lists on diskettes also provide an operating system to provide output in the form of labels, sheet lists or cards.

DISKETTE DRIVE A mechanism used to seek, read, and write data on diskettes.


DMA MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE See Mail Preference Service.

DNM Individual list records coded for "Do Not Mail" suppression.

DNR Individual list records coded for "Do Not Rent" suppression.

DOLLARS A selection factor for the size of purchase or purchases from a direct response customer file. Can be dollars per item, per quarter, per year, highest dollars, or cumulative dollars where available.

DOLLARS PER CATALOG This usually pertains to the average number of dollars of gross sales generated by each copy of a catalog. It may also relate to the cost of the catalog in the mail.

DOLLARS PER M The total promotion of cost to place 1,000 given pieces in the mail.

DOLLARS PER PIECE The total promotional cost to place one given piece in the mail.

DONOR LIST Individuals (or establishments) who have made a donation to a charitable or fundraising appeal.

DOS (Disk Operating System) The original and still popular program that runs on PCs.

DOWNLOAD To accept data coming in from an outside source -- which could be a diskette to slip into a PC, or a file that has come in electronically via modem from another computer. Conversely, to upload a file is to send data to another computer, typically, electronically.

DRIVER'S LICENSES The major source of exact age data utilized by compilers of consumer data.

DROP (MAIL DROP) The time and usually the description of a given mailing. Drop day is the day such a mailing is scheduled to be delivered to the postal service. (If test groups are not mailed at the same time, the measurement of half life may be mangled.)

DROP SHIP Some mailers save time and money by bypassing the local postal facility, and transporting mail directly to a more distant postal facility that is nearer to the addresses in the mailing. To qualify for Destination Entry Discounts, mail is drop shipped to BMCs, SCFs or Destination Delivery Units. Second class publications are often drop shipped to postal facilities in distant zones to save on the zone-rated postage. (Merchandise purchased through a catalog may be "drop shipped" from the warehouse or storage of the actual maker.)

DRY TEST A mailing made to solicit orders for a product not yet available to determine the likelihood of success through direct mail or direct-mail-advertising.

DSF (Delivery Sequence File) The DSF, compiled by the USPS, is a comprehensive database of every one of the 120,000,000 addresses that the USPS delivers to. DSF serves as a tool to improve mailing list selections and to provide walk sequencing of mail files. DSF processing will confirm the accuracy of mailing lists, identify address errors, and provide information about the address. DSF processing is performed by commercial vendors under license by the USPS. Outside lists compared to the DSF by one of a handful of licensees can make a substantial contribution to reduce wasteful mailings.

DUAL ADDRESSES In business lists, the ship-to-address may be and often is different from the bill-to-address. It is a good customer protection policy to mail both. Suitably equipped mail fulfillment skills can provide dual addressing for catalogs in line, one as the mailing address (on the cover) and the other on a card or form with identical coding information serving as the order form. This form is then gathered in and bound into the catalogs - increasing dramatically the proportion of responses which can be captured by key code.

DUMMY Another name for a decoy or seed.

DUMP A printout, character by character, of a few hundred records of a given tape. A dump should accompany any tape delivery along with a description of the file, and a "tape layout."

DUPE Trade lingo for a duplicate record that has been identified and eliminated. It is good practice to look at the "matched pairs" or "dupes" so identified to make certain the dropped record is really a duplicate.

DUPE ELIMINATION The process through merge-purging, by which duplication is removed from a list or group of lists.

DUPLICATION FACTOR The proportion of names and addresses on one list that also are found to be on another list. Merge-purge programs produce reports on internal duplication (intradupes within the house file), duplication between outside lists and house files, as well as interduplication between two or more outside lists brought in to merge-purge against the house files. The rate of duplication between the house lists and each outside list is a meaningful indicator of the affinity of such outside lists for the product or service being offered.

DWELLING TYPE Consumers live in one of two kinds of dwelling units - Single Family Units or Multiple Unit Dwellings. Almost 19% of the American population lives in multiple dwellings, the great majority in high rise buildings.



EBCDIC (Extended Binary-Coded Decimal Interchange Code) The primary machine language coding structure used by IBM and IBM-compatible mainframe computers.

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) The exchange of information (orders, invoices, counts, list cards, requests for quotations, list approvals) between two computers. EDI consists of standards which use a combination of rules (syntax) and tables to encode and transmit business information (a form of electronic mail between computers).

EDIT CHECKING A progammatic screen to ensure that the data entered fit given parameters such as zip to be numeric only and five or 9 digits. Checking of labels or sheet lists by the mailer to see if output agrees with instructions as to sex, geography, unduplication, typography, copies (if any) and other selection factors.

EDIT REJECTS Records identified via data processing as faulty, eliminated from further processing. Such records might, for instance, lack a last name, lack a primary or secondary address (see definitions), have a mismatched ZIP and city or state which are not correctable.

EDITING RULES A discipline created by a printed set of rules of publishing standards for entry of each data element. Includes handling of titles, innovation, punctuation, length of field, numerals and all variants.

EDT Electronic data transfer via telephone lines.

EDUCATION This is a field served exceptionally well by list compilers - Public Schools, Private Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Trade & Personal Training Schools. Includes educators by over 250 disciplines, coaches, special education. For most lists, data is available by enrollment.

EFFORT KEY REPORT A report covering responses, over a period of time, to multiple keyed offers. Results, in numbers and percentages, usually per thousand pieces in the mail, for each key of a multi-key mail plan. Provides a way to compare lists, packages, offers . . . and determine next steps to take, if any.

ELASTICITY Comes from "elasticity of demand" to determine what effect in response a change in price or offer will create. Those markets that show little change are inelastic; those that vary greatly with price are highly elastic.

ELECTRONIC BULLETIN BOARD In the data processing world, a facility for electronic data transfer (EDT) whereby senders can "post" a data file to a telephone number provided by the receiver, avoiding the delays inherent in creation, mailing and processing of a magnetic tape. Now an important feature of the Internet.

ELECTRONIC MEDIA The original electronic medium was the telephone, followed by Radio, TV, Fax, E-Mail, Intercommunication, the Internet, for the most part direct response by electronic media, is now generated through commercial time purchased on Radio or TV.

ELEVEN-DIGIT BAR CODED ADDRESSING All bar coded mail now includes 11 digits - the 9th digit zip code, plus the last 2 digits of the local address. There is also now a check digit, something the 9-digit zip code never provided.

ENGINEERS Direct mail covers all types of engineers: aeronautical, chemical, plastic, industrial, sanitary; quality control, electronic, safety - over 30 disciplines selectable via 8-digit SIC - with phone numbers.

ENUMERATION DISTRICTS The small geographic areas assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau. For these small areas and subblocks (with an average of about 140 families), the census publishes a huge volume of median demographic data. There are some 400,000 enumeration districts and subblocks. The 9-digit zip code has made these far less important as there are over 19,000,000 separate 9-digit zip codes or one for every 6.5 mailable addresses in America (both households and non-households).

ENVELOPE The addressed outer carrier (paper or plastic, or a combination of the two) in which the pieces of the mailing package are enclosed.

ENVELOPE STUFFERS Printed offers placed in the envelopes of others. Can be other mailers (known as ride-alongs), or in billing envelopes, for utilities, cable companies, credit card companies or department stores.

ENVELOPES Envelopes come in all sizes and all colors. The conventional envelope for first class mail is the 4" X 9-1/2" number 10 envelope. Other frequently used sizes are the 6" X 9", the 9" X 12", and the Baronial measuring 5" X 7".

ETHNIC LISTS List data, selected on the basis of surnames, to indicate ethnicity. List proportions of Black families and Hispanic families are published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Overlays based on surnames are available to ethnicize segments of a customer file.

EXACT DATE OF BIRTH Age is one of the important demographic facts about consumer. Through overlays with Driver's Licenses a large proportion of Age Data on major consumer files includes the day, month and date of birth. The balance of age codes are usually in one or two-year ranges, part of which is compiled.

EXCHANGE A reciprocal relationship in which one mail order company swaps buyers, usually on a name for name rental basis, with another mail order company; often both prospect in the same market. Some mail order buyer lists are available only on an exchange basis. Where exchanges are not even, careful control is mandatory.

EXECUTIVES A good portion of business mailings goes to executives, both at home and at business. Major lists offer up to thirty or forty functional titles for executives. Some lists provide selection by size of company (by employees or sales) provided the stock exchange, besides making possible geographical selection, with or without the phone number.

EXPIRE A former customer or former member of an organization, or former subscriber, or former continuity buyer; any record which is removed from a live file.

EXTENDED ATTRIBUTES Additional information that the system or a program associates with a file. An extended attribute can be any format, for example text, a map, or binary data.

EXTERNAL LIST Any list other than the house files of a mailer.

EYEBALL A LIST Visually reviewing output of a list on cheshire or sheet list to check the validity of the data. This should be done prior to mailing or use by the buyer of the list. Things to look for: Geography, Sex, Selection, Duplication, Two-Line Addresses, 9-Digit Zip Code, SIC Classification (Fifth Digit Zip, if used as a select).



FACTOR ANALYSIS A statistical analytic tool used to determine the selection factors within a list that influence response.

FAMILY Members of a given family, or family group, living at a given household. Households are always unique, some families consist of just one family member. Usually connotes presence of children on a file of consumers.

FANFOLD FORMS Folded, perforated, continuous (blank or preprinted) forms utilized for computer printouts.

FARMERS China has 800,000,000 living on farms; the United States feeds itself and part of the rest of the world from 2,600,000 farms. Selection is available by size, crop, type, as well as number of livestock, also by type.

FAX MODEM Really should be fax/data modems. Modems that enable you to send and receive faxes in addition to ordinary computer-type data.

FIELD The location on a tape of a given set of information--such as name, address, city, state, SIC, ZIP code. May be variable length or fixed. For addressing purposes almost always in "fixed fields" where ZIP code for example, is always found in the same five positions in a record.

FIELD LENGTH The number of bytes or characters in a particular data field for a record on a magnetic medium.

FIFTH-DIGIT ZIP SELECT Utilizing the fifth number in a ZIP code as a cross-section selection method.

FILE LAYOUT The sequence of data fields for a particular record stored on magnetic media. For example: First and last name, Primary address, Secondary address, phone number, date of last purchase, amount of last purchase. In a Fixed-Field file, each of those data elements, or fields, will always occupy the same number of bytes on each records, whether or not any data resides in those fields. In a Variable-Length file, the length of each data element -- and each individual record -- depends entirely upon the length of the "live" data in that field. For example, a fixed-field file will always have the name field take up a specific number of bytes, say positions 1 to 30. In a variable-length file, if the first and last names (and the space in between them!) add up to 22 characters, or bytes, that is how long the name field is in that record. You can immediately see two consequences immediately: Variable-length-field files take up less space on a tape or diskette, but they can be a nightmare to decode, read or process, because the data is never in a consistent position for each record!

FILE SEQUENCE The sequence (alphabetic, zip code, SIC, arranged by volume) in which a list of names is maintained.

FILE SERVER A heavy duty mini computer CPU (central processing unit) dedicated to handling and processing data shared by a network of PCs.

FILE TAGGING Adding data from one file to another; can refer to the unauthorized additions to house files of information owned by others.

FIM Facing Identification Marks (FIM) are a series of vertical bars that must appear in the upper right of business reply mail. The FIM bars are used by automated equipment to identify business reply, and to properly orient the piece for processing.

FINANCIAL SERVICES There are over 500,000 establishments providing financial services. Here are found lists of banks, savings and loans, stockbrokers, insurance and real estate firms, and cemeteries.

FIRM NAME The firm or organization name appears on the USPS DSF and ZIP+4 file only if that firm has its own ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code.

FIRST CLASS Any mailable matter can be sent First Class mail, but mail that is of a personal nature and mail that is sealed against inspection must be mailed at First Class service. This includes personal correspondence, bills and statements, and any other mail that is specific to the addressed individual. Under Classification Reform, First Class will be restructured into two subclasses for mail preparation and postage rates: Automation (bar-coded mail), and Retail (non-bar-coded mail). It is now estimated that 15 percent or so of all mail with advertising is placed in the mail stream as first class mail. (This is more or less balanced by that portion of 3rd class which does not include advertising.)

FIRST TIME BUYER On a given list, a mail order patron who has purchased for the first (and only) time to date. Customer information should always be accompanied by the key or source code, and a date stamp.

(Many mail order companies concentrate on buying "first time" buyers and this is necessary. But building a Direct Mail operation is based on converting such first time buyers into regular repeat buyers.)

FIRST-IN-FIRST-OUT (FIFO) A queuing technique in which the next item to be retrieved is the item that has been in the queue for the longest time. [A]

FIVE-DIGIT ZIP CODE A numeric code that identifies the addresses served by a specific post office and its branches. Mail that is presorted to the 5-digit level can earn postage discounts.

FIXED COST A way of establishing a fixed cost per sale including not only promotion cost but also all other costs. Can and should be calculated on large unit sales.

FIXED LISTS Cost per sale including all other costs except promotions.

FLAG A computerized means to identify data added to a file or the usage of a list segment, by a given mailer.

FLAT CHARGE A fixed cost for the total of a rental list, usually applies to smaller lists.

FLEXIBLE DISK See Diskette, floppy.

FLIGHT A given mailing, particularly where multiple drops are to be made on different days to reduce number arriving at one company at one time.

FONT A particular style (shape), size, slant, and weight, defined for an entire typographic character set; for example, 9 point Helvetica Italic Bold. When applied to outline or scalable character sets, which can be scaled to any size, font refers to style, slant, and weight, but not to size.

FOREIGN LIST HANDLING A few data processing centers are now equipped to convert, store, access, update and merge purge foreign lists.

FOREIGN MAIL Lists of householders and business outside the United States.

FORM 3202 This is the Statement of Mailing that must be provided by the mailer of any bulk mailing. The 3602 identifies the class of mail, the level of sortation, the postage rate, the number of pieces, and the postage due for the mailing. It provides certification by the USPS.

FORMAT The location of each item of data on each record of a mailing list.

FORMER BUYER Record of an individual or establishment showing purchase within a prior record.

FORTUNE 300 Fortune Magazine's selection of the largest fifty companies in six classifications: banking, retailing, wholesaling, insurance, construction and utilities. Compilers provide up to ten executives by name and title for each of these large companies.

FORTUNE 1000 Until recently, the one thousand largest manufacturing companies in the U.S. as published by Fortune Magazine. Now includes parts of what was formerly Fortune 300 - the largest fifty companies in six major classifications: banking, retailing, wholesaling, insurance, construction and utilities. All of these companies have sales in billions of dollars. (Compilers can provide the top 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, et al in any given major classification. Thus no necessity to restrict pulls to these published by Time, Inc.)

FOUR-LINE ADDRESS The typical individual name list at business addresses requires a minimum of four lines: name of individual, name of company, local address, and city, state & zip code. Three-line records at business addresses can have a title on the 1st line. Three-line name lists are usually at home addresses. Computers can easily split out three-line addresses from records with 4 or more lines. (Cheshire labels can accommodate 8 lines of closely packed address data.)

FOURTH CLASS Includes books, records, tapes, educational materials, and printed material that can't be mailed as any other class of mail. This by another name is parcel post, the USPS service to deliver mail parcels weighing over 16 ounces.

FRAUD There are at least 50,000,000 list transactions per year that mail over the facilities of the USPS. The number of misuses or misappropriations of lists is an infinitely small percentage of these transactions. These few problems which do surface in direct mail use usually involve misrepresentation or other shoddy, even criminal offers.

FREE-STANDING INSERT An advertising insert, either solo or co-operative, inserted in newspapers, usually the Sunday editions, delivered with the newspaper. It is a little known fact that this form of prospecting is now greater by a substantial margin than all direct mail for prospecting.

FREQUENCY A measure of multiple purchases by a mail order buyer. One of the selection factors when utilizing mail order buyer files.

FRONT-END RESPONSE The initial responses generated by a direct-response promotion without consideration of returns, credit, payment, and subsequent purchases.

FULFILLMENT All activities to get in the mail stream performed after printed pieces and mailing list data are delivered to the mailing service plant; also refers to the physical handling of an order, or an information request, or a premium or a refund. (Should not be confused with subscription fulfillment which requires unique computer programming.)

FUNDRAISING LISTS Lists which contain individuals who have either demonstrated willingness to contribute or are considered worthy of testing for contributions.



GAINS CHART An aggregate table showing the range of predicted consumer response rates for the best to worst prospects.

GALLEY LISTING OR SHEETLIST A printout of list data on sheets, usually in zip or alphabetic order.

GENDERIZATION A program run to add gender to mailing lists (based on first names where available). Sex is a useful selection factor in the list business.

GEOGRAPHICS A selection factor based on location, can be state, city, SCF, zip code, telephone area code, enumeration district, or carrier route.

GIFT BUYERS Mail order buyers of gift merchandise, also buyers who order gifts in some quantity to be shipped to others.

GIFTEES List of individuals sent gifts or magazine in bulk by mail by friends or donors or business firms. Giftees are not truly mail order buyers; rather they are mail order recipients and beneficiaries.

GOVERNMENTS An often overlooked source of lists. Governments register cars and homes and dogs; bankers and hairdressers, plumbers and veterinarians. Government lists include buyers, subscribers, inquirers. Governments license TV stations, ham operators, and CBs.

GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION Access to spreadsheets and windows make possible analysis of markets graphically by Age, Income, Dollars, Time or any other variable studied.

GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE (GUI) The key to Windows access to data by means of graphical icons.

GRAPHS A tool to analyze and present numerical data in a visual way.

GRID TEST A means to test more than one variable at the same time. This is a particular useful method to use to test different offers by different packages over a group of prospect lists.

GROUPS Society is formed of "groups"--that is clubs, associations, memberships, churches, fraternal orders, political groups, religious groups, sporting groups, collector groups, travel groups, and singing groups. Wherever human beings are, there we find groups.

GUARANTEE There is no "guarantee of results or response" in direct mail. Some compilers offer guarantees of percentages of delivery (usually from 90 to 95 percent) and pay the postage costs on all returned "undeliverable as addressed" that exceed the guaranteed proportion. Almost all direct mail operators have "money back" guarantees in case of dissatisfaction with the merchandise received.

GUI (Graphical User Interface) (Pronounced "gooey") Graphical User Interface, typically synonymous with Windows, although, as many know, Windows is an emulation of the Mac OS.

GUMMED LABELS A form of perforated label requiring dampening to affix. Replaced for all practical purposes by pressure-sensitive labels which can be peeled off and affixed without water.



HALF LIFE A formula for estimating the total response to be expected from a direct-response effort shortly after the first responses are received. Makes valid continuation decisions possible based on statistically valid early partial data.

HANDSHAKING Exchange of predetermined signals between two devices establishing a connection. Usually part of a communications protocol.

HANDLING CHARGE A fixed charge added per segment for special list requests. Also shows up as part of "shipping and handling" charges for transportation of labels, cards, sheets, or tape and merchandise.

HARD COPY A printout on a sheet list or galley of all data available on a magnetic source such as a tape, a disc, or a floppy.

HARD DISK A rigid disk in a hard disk drive that you cannot be removed. The hard disk can be partitioned into storage areas of variable sizes that are subdivided into directories and subdirectories. See also partition.

HEAD OF FAMILY From telephone, voter, or car data, the name and sex of the individual on the registration file.

HEADLINE The primary wording utilized to induce a recipient to read and react.

HEAT TRANSFER A form of label which transfers reverse carbon images on the back of sheet to mailing pieces by means of heat and pressure. (After use for transfer, the labels, now one-up, can be glued and affixed by machine which provides a second copy of the list.)

HELP A choice on a pop-up menu that gives assistance and information; for example, general help about the purpose of the object.

HIGH RISE An apartment or office building that has a bank of lock boxes for mail receptacles (a minimum of four mail boxes).

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS Several compilers provide lists of high school juniors and seniors at their home addresses. The original data, usually printed phone rosters, are not available for all schools or localities.

HIGH-TICKET BUYERS Buyers who have purchased expensive items by mail.

HIGHWAY CONTRACT ROUTE Similar to a rural route, except that the mail is delivered by a private contractor under the terms of an agreement with the USPS. Highway contract routes are usually in areas that are sparsely populated or too remote to justify a full-time postal employee.

HOME BUSINESS Businesses, run from homes, estimated to be over 6,000,000 households of which over 2,000,000 charge off home-office on their IRS reports.

HOME BUYER (Home Buyer, New) Usually a recent (or very recent) purchase of a brand new house or a house formerly owned by others. To be distinguished from "Home Owners" in general who can have owned a house at the same address for a number of years.

HOME OFFICES For major businesses, the executive or home office location as differentiated from branch offices or plants.

HOME OWNERSHIP Seventy-five percent of American families live in homes they own. Twenty-five percent of American families are renters. Renters have little interest in offers to maintain, upgrade, or improve living quarters.

HOMOGENIZATION The unfortunate and misleading combination of responses from various sources. Often the use of a single "average" response for a mailing made to customers and prospects alike.

HOT LINE The most recent buyers on a list which undergoes periodic updating. (Those who have just purchased by mail are the most likely buyers of other products and services by mail.)

HOUSE LISTS Those list segments controlled or owned by the list owner. Includes customers, inquiries, expires, warrantees, white mail, salespeople's qualified prospects, gift buyers, giftees, trials, and so on.

HOUSEHOLDS All lists are delivered to households (homes) or to non-households. Households are selectable on a demographic basis. Householders (consumers) may be selectable on a psychographic basis.



ICON A graphical representation of an object, consisting of an image, image background, and a label.

ID A number assigned to a given individual or company record as a permanent identification code.

INACTIVE BUYERS Buyers who have not placed an order or responded during a specified period of time.

INCOME Perhaps the most important demographic selection factor on consumer files. Major compiled files provide surprisingly accurate individual family incomes up to about $40,000. Incomes can be selected in $1,000 increments; counts are available by income ranges for every ZIP code.

INCOMING CALLS A log of inbound calls, including duration, usually by trunk or line, or agent.

INDEX A means to translate a field of random data results into a form which makes possible direct comparisons.

INDEXING Creation of a standard, say 100% of recovery of promotion cost, to enable comparison between mailings of different sizes.

INDICIA What the USPS calls a permit imprint, many mailers know as the indicia. It's preprinted in the upper right corner of the mailpiece, and indicates that postage has been paid to a permit-numbered account. The indicia substitutes for stamps or metered postage.

INDIVIDUAL Most mailings are made to individuals. However, all occupant or resident mail in effect is to an address only. A portion of business mail is addressed to the establishment (by name and address) only, or to a title and not to an "individual."

INFLUENTIALS In business mail order, those executives who have decision power on what and when to buy. Also those who exercise clout in their business classification or community. In consumer PR mail, those individuals (executives, professionals, educators, clergy, labor, and so on) who make a difference in their localities or work.

INITIAL SOURCE CODE The code of the mailing effort which brought the name to the customer file for the first time. It is important to maintain this code, as well as the date stamp of the sale:


To evaluate the source code. 
To calculate "Lifetime" value. 
To provide a means to expire the name when prospecting names provide greater response. 
INK JET A method of printing that uses minute nozzles to spray ink onto paper. Data on magnetic media must normally be reformatted to allow the ink-jet equipment to properly apply the name, address -- and perhaps a message generated by the key code accompanying the record -- perhaps directly onto a catalog.INPUT DATA Original data, usually in hard copy form, to be converted and added to a given file. Also taped lists made ready for a merge-purge, or for a data bank.

INQUIRY (OR REQUEST) A response in the form of an inquiry for more information or for a copy of a catalog.

INSTALLMENT BUYERS Mail order buyers who have purchased goods or services on a periodic payment basis.

INSURANCE LISTS Insurance lists abound. There are lists of companies - life, property, casualty, and health. There are lists of agents: general agents, special agents, brokers, adjusters, and agents who are also real estate agents. There are lists of buyers and inquiries for each and every kind of insurance -- including buyer by age. There are lists of buyers of books and resellers on insurance.

INTER-FILE DUPLICATES Duplicates between different files.

INTERACTIVE PROCESSING A processing method in which each action by a system user causes response from the program or the system. Contrast with batch processing.

INTERLIST DUPLICATE A name and address appearing on two or more lists. (Usually not duplicating the basic customer file.)

INTERNET See special section at end of the mail marketing glossary.

INTRA-FILE DUPLICATES Duplicates within the same file.

INVALID RECORDS Records which when passed against an edit screen are found to be wrong in some significant way. Such records are "bumped" from the file, and then printed out for clerical review.

INVOLVEMENT A means to get the prospective to do something, to get "involved", in the order or inquiry procedure. Includes instructions as to tabs, tokens, labels or other devices to be handled.

IPS Instructions Per Second -- a measure of the speed with which a computer processes information, typically in the millions of instructions per second: MIPS.

ITEM In the selection process with a mail order list, denotes the types of goods or service purchased. In input terms, it is a part of a record to be converted.



JCL (Job Control Language) The language that assigns and controls specific data processing projects for mainframes. JCL is, essentially, a kind of all-purpose programming language that allows the execution of programs written in any programming language: Cobol, Assembler, etc.

JOB FUNCTION The descriptive title of an executive at a business address; also a title added to a three-line business address to direct the mailing piece to a given function.

JOB NUMBER An assigned number given to a completed order.

JULIAN DATING A three-digit numerical systems for date stamping a transaction by day. January 1 is 001, while December 31 is 365.



KEY CODE A means utilized to identify a given promotional effort so response can be identified and tracked and measured.

KEY CODE--GENERIC A form of hierarchical coding in which promotional vehicles can be analyzed within type of media -- newspapers, magazines, Sunday supplements, self-standing stuffers, mailing lists, radio and promotion, TV promotion, take-ones, and so on.

KEY LINE A line of alphanumeric characters designating selected facts about an individual customer record such as length of term, size of purchase, classification, identification number. In magazine updating, it is almost imperative for the key line to be provided to make any change in the records, as for example, a change in address.

KEY PUNCH A means to convert hard copy to machine-readable form by punching holes in either cards or paper tape.

KEY PUNCH/KEY STROKE The clerical means used to convert hart copy data, one character at a time, to magnetic form.

KEY STROKE A means to convert hard copy to machine readable form through a typewriter key or similar. A good portion of key stroke conversion today goes directly to some electronic form usually either on a cassette or a tape. When many key-to-tape machines are linked together, the data go directly to disc in the computer complex.

KEY VERIFYING Having two operators at the data entry stage key punch that same data for 100 percent accuracy.

KEYSTONE A measure of mark-up (100% of all costs except promotion). Not recommended for direct mail (See Order Margin.)

KILL To delete a record from a file.



LABEL A paper form bearing a name and address which when affixed (usually by machine) to a mailing piece, serves as the mailing address.

LABEL IMAGE FILE Also a PRINT IMAGE FILE: A file wherein data elements are kept in precisely the same sequence and order they will appear upon printing. For example, a file kept as Last Name, First Name, is typically not a label image file. Also, if a particular field is missing in a label image file, it does not print as a blank, but all other fields move up: a record missing a first and last name will not print a blank first line, but will print the primary address as the first line.

LABEL, PEEL-OFF (OR PRESSURE-SENSITIVE) A self-adhesive label form that can be peeled off its backing form and pressed onto a mailing piece by hand. When the backing sheet of a peel off label is affixed to a mailing piece, the recipient can be invited to peel off the label and affix it as his or her return address to an enclosed order form.

LABELS, GUMMED Perforated label form on paper stock which must be individually separated and moistened before being applied with hand pressure to the mailing piece.

LABELS, ONE UP Conventional cheshire or pressure sensitive labels for computer addressing are four-across horizontal. One-up labels are in a vertical strip with centerholes for machine affixing.

LAN (Local Area Network) (1) Two or more computing units connected for local resource sharing. (2) A network in which communications are limited to a moderate-size geographic area, such as a single office building, warehouse or campus, and that do not extend across public rights-of-way.

LASER LETTERS Letters printed by the latest high speed computerized imaging method. The new lasers can print two letters side by side, each of thirty-five or forty lines, in one second.

LAST DIGIT ZIP See Fifth-Digit Zip.

LATE CHARGE A charge for the cost of money imposed by some list owners for list rentals not paid within a specific period.

LATITUDE A measure, in degrees, of distance north or south of the Equator, where 0– equals the Equator, 90– N. Latitude is the North Pole; 90–S. Latitude is the South Pole. Used in conjunction with an East/West measurement: Longitude, any point on the globe can be pinpointed.

LATITUDE & LONGITUDE Precise location of a site for mapping or calculating coverage in miles. Until recently, it was restricted to the control of a zip code. Now available for any one of 21,000,000 9-digit zip code addresses. Appearing on major business universe files.

LAYOUT See File Layout.

LENGTH OF LINE The computer which has capacity to print 132 characters across a 14-1/2" sheet has forced discipline here. In four-across cheshiring, the longest line can not be more than thirty characters; for five across this limit is twenty-three characters. Capable data processors, utilizing all eight lines available on a 1" deep label can provide two full lines, if need be, for the title line.

LENGTH OF RESIDENCE Major compilers who utilize telephone or car registration data maintain the number of years (up to 16) a given family has been at the same address. This provides another selection factor available from these stratified lists.

LETTERSHOP A lettershop handles all details of printing and mailing letters and stuffers; a mailing house essentially handles the preparation and the mailing of bulk quantities of mail.

LIBRARY LISTS There are two major classifications of libraries, private (plus special) and public. Public libraries can be selected by number of purchase dollars available per year for book funds. In the public sector, there are public libraries, high school libraries, and college libraries. In the private sector, there are specialized collections such as science, business, law, medicine, and religion. There are also librarians by name, including members of the Special Libraries Association.

LIFESTYLE SELECTIVITY List professionals seek actual proof of lifestyle habits through lists indicating what people need, what people read, what people buy, what people own, what people join, and what people support. Major lists based on consumer surveys provide data on hobbies, ownership, and interests.

LIFETIME VALUE There are two key factors: the first is the cost to buy a customer, and the second is the lifetime value of that customer. It is the lifetime value (and the promotional span) which determines whether or not a given effort key has produced a profit for the operation.

LIFT LETTER A separate piece added to conventional solo mailings asking the reader to consider the offer just once more.

LINE OF TRAVEL Sortation of carrier-route coded lists (and hence pieces for delivery) in the line of travel utilized by the individual postal carrier. Under re-classification, may become mandatory for lowest postal rate. In development in 1995.

LIST AFFINITY Correlation of a mailing offer to selected mailing list availabilities.

LIST BANK See Data Bank.

LIST BROKER A service to handle all details to bring the buyer (the list owner) and the seller (the list owner) together.

LIST BUILDING The process of collecting and utilizing list data and transaction data for list purposes.

LIST BULLETIN An announcement of a new list or of a change in a list previously announced.

LIST CARD The conventional 5-1/2" X 8-1/2" card utilized to provide essential data about a given list.

LIST CATALOGS Directories of lists with counts prepared and distributed, usually free, by list managers and list compilers.

LIST CLEANING Another phrase for list updating -- the process of correcting a mailing list. "Cleaning" implies the removal of the records "undeliverable as addressed."

LIST COMPILATION The business of creating lists from printed records. The individual or company making such lists is known as a compiler.

LIST COUNT The number of names and addresses on a given segment of a mailing list; a count provided before printing of tapes or labels. The universe of names available by segment or classification.

LIST CRITERIA Those factors on a mailing list that differentiate one segment from another. The criteria can be demographic, psychographic, or physical in nature.

LIST, CUSTOM COMPILED In prior years, all compiled lists were typed and thus were custom prepared to order; today, virtually all compiled files, with multiple data elements, are precompiled on tape for virtually any selection the user wishes.


LIST ENHANCEMENT The transfer via overlay of data elements from one list to another; to differentiate from augmentation list enhancement occasionally means the adding of data from inside sources (as an executive to a business file) while augmentation is enhancement from outside sources.


LIST FRANCHISE Major compilers often provide copies of all or parts of their files on a franchise basis to list wholesalers and mailing shops. Most such contracts are for a short period of years. The list may be paid for on a fee basis or, particularly on large files, on a royalty basis.

LIST KEY See Code or Key.

LIST MAINTENANCE The methodology to keep a mailing list current through timely updating of adds, kills, and changes.

LIST MANAGER, IN-HOUSE Almost all list managers are independents serving multiple list owners; some very large list owners, however, opt to manage the list rental activity through full time in-house employees.

LIST MANAGER/LIST MANAGEMENT While the list broker works for the mailer, the list manager services the list owner as merchandiser of a list, involving all details of promotion, rental, collection, and control.

LIST MONITORING Checking deliverability and time of delivery for a given list.

LIST PAYMENT The sum transmitted for an individual list transaction to the list owner; either directly from the list user, or from him through his list manager or list broker.

LIST PERFORMANCE The response logged to a mailed list or list segment.

LIST PROTECTION Lists are valuable. They are protected by review of mailing and mailer, insertion of lists seeds, obtaining of a guarantee of one time use only.

LIST RANKING In building a "bank" of lists for future use, each list is ranked in descending order on the basis of logged response and/or logged dollars of sales.

LIST RENTAL An arrangement in which a mailer obtains the right to mail the list owned by another on a one-time basis at an agreed upon cost per thousand names.

LIST RENTAL HISTORY A report showing tests and continuations by users of a given list. This usage record, exclusive to each broker or to the list manager, is the key to list recommendations. Historical data can be maintained by list, mailer, product or source of business. Repeat usage by mailers by name is perhaps the most important information desired by a knowledgeable direct marketer.

LOG IN The act of identifying yourself as authorized to use the resource. Often, the system requires a user ID and password to check your authorization to use the resource.

LOG OUT The act of removing access to a remote resource from a workstation. Contrast with log in.

LONGITUDE A measure of distance east and west of the Greenwich (England) Meridian (Greenwich was the site of the original Royal Observatory), also called the Prime Meridian -- a north/south line, considered Zero degrees, 0–. Points around the globe are measured as degrees east and west of the Prime Meridian, up to 180– East or West, where a meridian, very roughly along the International Date Line, bisects the Pacific Ocean. See: LATITUDE.



MACHINE-READABLE Imprinted alphanumeric data, including name and address, which can be read and converted to magnetic form by an optical character reader.

MAGALOGUE A mail order catalog that includes paid advertisements, and in some cases brief editorials, making it similar to a magazine format.

MAGNETIC TAPE A means to store names and addresses in magnetic form for sequential processing by a computer. Most tape lists are furnished in fixed field format (the ZIP code is always in the same five positions on each record), on nine-track tape, 1600 or 6250 BPI (bits per inch) in IBM mode.

MAGNETIC TAPE CHARGE A charge made for the tape reel on which a list is furnished. The reel usually is not returnable for credit.

MAIL (PIECE) VOLUME The USPS publishes monthly figures on Units, Dollars and Pounds. This is further broken down by class of mail and the current data (a total to date) is compared with each of these volume figures for the year prior.

MAIL COUNT The amount of mail deposited with the USPS on a given date as reported on the certification form (3602) provided by the postal service.

MAIL DATE The date selected for delivery of a mailing program to the U.S. Postal Service. Working backwards from this date, mailers can calculate time needed for creation, printing, purchasing, assembling and fulfillment.

MAIL DOLLAR SALES Estimates of dollars of sales due to Direct Mail Advertising or to Direct Response Advertising as a whole. Catalog dollar sales are usually reported separately. Care must be taken when referring to such estimates. For example, all catalogs in 1995 totaled about 12 Billion pieces (17% of Third Class volume). Total catalog dollar sales are estimated to be from $15 Billion to $65 Billion. As to the latter often quoted figure, each catalog is credited with sales of over $5 - which is absurd.

MAIL MONITORING A means to determine how long individual pieces of mail take to reach their destinations; also utilized to verify content and ascertain any unauthorized use.

MAIL ORDER Direct sale of a product or service, or elicitation of an inquiry or a catalog request by direct mail.

MAIL PLAN A mailing using records based on specific criteria to target a select group of people. The selection of segments of the house file to mail during a given period plus those outside lists to be continued as well as new lists to test. Utilizing answers to "what if" scenarios, many direct marketers are now producing mail plans via computer.

MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE A well advertised program of the DMA providing a means to consumers to remove their names from a large number of mailings. When this same service provided a means to consumers to add their names to get more mail, two of three opted to add, only one-third to remove.

MAILER The organization that enters mail in the postal mail stream. For third class mail this includes over 750,000 establishments with permits; this is almost 1 of every 10 establishments in America. The mailing house is also sometimes called by this term.

MAILER'S TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE A group of representatives from virtually all associations involved in any form of mailing and related services that meets periodically with USPS officials to provide pragmatic advice and technical information and recommendations on postal policies.

MAILING HOUSE A direct-mail service establishment which among other services for the mailer, will affix labels, sort, bag and tie the mail, and deliver it in qualified ZIP code strings to the USPS for certification. Many mailing houses also provide printing as well as computerized services.

MAILING PACKAGE What is mailed with all of its pieces. This is the way the offer is "dressed" when it arrives in the mailbox.

MAILSTOP An internal routing number at many large companies, without which third-class mail will not be delivered. Business-to-business mailers must allow for the inclusion of a mailstop in their customer and prospect file layouts.

MAINFRAME A traditional "computer," distinguished not by processing power and ability, but by sheer size. Typically dedicated to mainline data processing: high-volume bulk processing of records; traditional access is through "dumb" terminals. IBM and IBM-compatible mainframes use EBCDIC machine coding language.

MARGINAL LIST TEST A test that almost, but not quite qualifies for a continuation.

MARK SENSE Use of a pre-coded multiple choice mail questionnaire. Answers indicated by filling in circles or squares. Response then tabulated by an optical character reader.

MARKET In the list world, each list is a market; all potential buyers that can be reached by mail are the market.

MARKET PENETRATION The proportion of buyers on a file to the total list or to the total area. For business lists, penetration is usually analyzed by two- four and 8-digit SIC classifications.


MARKUP A term utilized by retailers to denote percentage added to cost of goods sold. It is not germane in direct-mail calculations. The operative phrase in direct mail is "order margin" which is a discrete number of dollars, not a percentage or proportion of anything.

MARRIAGE MAIL A form of co-op in which the offers of two or more disparate mailers are combined in the same folder or envelope for delivery to the same household or establishment.

MASTERFILE A single combined file of all list inputs owned or controlled by a company, which can be found individually on subsidiary files. Publishers offer executives from multiple magazines. Mail order customers offer selects across product lines. Compilers offer any segment- consumer, business - embraced in the master file. Masterfiles provide large data banks now marketed in Science, Computers, Ethnics, Professionals, et al.

MATCH CODE An extract of parts of a name and address which serves to identify a specific record.

MATCH RATE The proportion of records on a customer file which match a master business or consumer file. Match rates vary considerably based on the discipline exercised by the owner of a list, the age of that list, the presence or lack of a zip code or a phone number.

MATCHED CITY PAIRS For testing purposes when individual markets must be utilized, a means to do A in city Y, but not B, while doing A and B in city X with the premise that the two cities are reasonably matched as to size, income spread, and type of lifestyles.

MATCHING The process of overlaying one list with another and transferring selected data attributes (usually from a masterfile) to a customer file. Matching shows up in many ways in direct marketing: phone appending, merge-purge, list suppression, merge identification, all partake in a matching process.

MAXIMUM COST PER ORDER Lifetime value (and time span) of each major cell of customers on a customer file. This helps set a limit to the price to pay for a new customer.

MECHANICAL ADDRESSING SYSTEMS While this is the computer age, numerous lists are filed on cards or plates and addressing is done by mechanical means. Most such lists are quite small. Card lists can be easily updated by the owning organization.

MEDIA Response is the name of the game, and direct mail is just one of the players. The other major media used for response include space advertising (newspapers and magazines) self-standing stuffers, radio, TV, take-ones, car cards, package inserts, billing inserts, and hand delivery. (With generic coding, response for each one can be compared, in total, with response for each other media.)

MEDIAN DEMOGRAPHIC DATA All U.S. Census data are based on medians rather than on an individual basis. Thus a census age is the median for a group of householders. It is important to distinguish between stratified median data and individualized data such as length of residence, ownership of a car, and family income.

MEDIUM The specific part of a given media--that is, the individual magazine, TV station or mailing list.

MEGABYTE (MB) A term meaning approximately 1,000,000 bytes.

MEMBER A person who belongs to a given organization. Direct mail creates some special members such as book club members, discount club members, barter exchange members, and on-line service members.

MEMORY The storage on electronic chips, for example, random access memory, where programs and data are held while you use them or read-only memory where information is stored that your system can refer to but not change.

MENU A displayed list of accessible items, fields, or functions from which you can make a selection. See also pop-up menu.

MERGE To merge two or more lists into a single list utilizing the same sequential order (without unduplicating between them); the lists are sorted together, usually by ZIP code.

MERGE-PURGE A process to combine two or more lists and at the same time unduplicate the output files required for third class or carrier-route coded mailing. A quite simple step for consumer lists which are ordinarily overkilled to guarantee very small residential duplication. But the process for business lists is highly technical and difficult.

MILITARY LISTS Lists of those in the military service (or recently released) are quite scarce. Military personnel can be moved on one day's notice so deliverability in and around large military post offices is sometimes problematical.

MIN (Marketing Information Network) The principal compiler in the U.S. of list data for list cards. Data changed daily. Used on-line by a sizable proportion of list brokers. Another large group of list resellers utilize MIN data, on a monthly basis, on a PC delivery system created by Database America.

MINICATALOG A relatively new prospecting device consisting of a fanfolded set of minipages 3" x 5" used in cardvertisers, billing stuffers, and package inserts. Also utilized by some mailers as a bounce back.

MINIMUM A minimum billing applied to list rentals involving a small number of names. May cover an entire small list. Also a minimum billing for given mailing and/or computerized services.

MINIMUM ORDER REQUIREMENT A stipulation, irrespective of the quantity utilized, that payment of a given number of dollars will be expected.

MOBILITY RATE The United States is a nation on the move. Some 20 percent of U.S. families move in a year; 15 percent of businesses die or change names or are absorbed each year, and 15 percent new starts take their place.

MODELING A process involving computerized cloning of a given customer list (Business or Consumer) to provide prospecting names in descending array based on probability of response. Also, a means to provide reasonable answers to "what if" scenarios when various offers are under consideration.

MODEM (Modulator, Demodulator) A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.

MONETARY VALUE A selection availability on a good proportion of mail order buyer lists as to price range, amount of last order, and cumulative buying history.

MULTIBUYERS The identification through a merge-purge of all records found on two or more lists.

MULTIFAMILY See Multiple Dwelling.

MULTIMEDIA (1) The combination of different elements of media (for example, text, graphics, audio, and still images) for display and control from a personal computer. (2) Material presented in a combination of text, graphics, video, image, animation, and sound.

MULTIPLE BUYERS Those who have made more than one purchase from the same mail order firm. (These can be selected on the basis of frequency.)

MULTIPLE DWELLING A housing unit for three or more families at the same address. For adequate delivery to apartment dwellers, it is more and more necessary to include the apartment number in the address. Multidwelling families can be selected or omitted on major compiled files.

MULTIPLE REGRESSION ANALYSIS A statistical procedure that studies multiple independent variables simultaneously to identify a pattern or patterns that can lead to an increase in response.

MULTIPLE SICs On major files of large businesses, the primary SIC classification is augmented with up to three more four-digit SICs. Business merge-purges often disclose multiple SIC alignments unavailable on any single list source.



NAME An entry of an individual by name, on a mailing list.

NAME DRAIN The loss sustained by almost all businesses, of the names and addresses of prospective customers who write or call to them or visit their stores.

NAME REMOVAL Names prior to mailing are removed if they match the DMA Mail Preference File, if requested by the customer, if marked on the file "Do Not Mail", if known to be a non-deliverable address, or if matching against the DSF file so indicates.

NCOA (National Change of Address) NCOA is a service of the USPS to improve the accuracy of mailing addresses. The NCOA file is compiled by the USPS from Change of Address cards that are submitted by movers to their local post office. Mail files can be matched against this file to identify movers, and to supply the current mailing address. This service is performed by commercial vendors who are licensed by the Postal Service.

NEGATIVE OPTION A book club utilizing negative option provides its customers, usually each month, with the opportunity to return a card and refuse a selection; if the card is not returned or not returned in time, the selection is automatically forwarded and billed to the customer.

NEGOTIATED PRICE With the growth of technology, list rental is becoming more and more a form of negotiation based on list data provided against list data actually mailed.

NET NAMES The actual number of names of a given list mailed after a merge-purge. Also, the concept of paying only for such name.

NET-NET NAMES An agreement made by a renter with a list owner to pay only for names that survive given screens including income, credit, house list duplicates, prior list suppress names, zip suppress programs, and so on. The surviving portion can be quite small.

NET UNIQUE NAME FILE The resultant one-per-record unique unduplicated list, one of the chief outputs of a merge-purge operation.

NETWORK Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet. See also: Internet, LAN.

Computers that are connected together. Those in the same or nearby buildings are called local area networks , those that are farther away are called wide area networks , and when you interconnect a large number of networks all over the world, you get the Internet.

NETWORK ARCHITECTURE A set of design principles, including the organization of functions and the description of data formats and procedures; the basis for the design and implementation of a network (ISO).

NEW BUSINESSES Lists of businesses just started (or just located as just started). In the United States there are some 1 million new business starts (including institutions and offices of professionals) per year. In the same time an equal number of non-household establishments go out of business, or change their name, or are absorbed by others.

NEW CONNECTS New names added to connected lines of telephone, gas or electric utilities. While actually posted daily, such data are coming onto the list market, usually after a time delay of 30 or 60 days. Several major phone companies now offer "ride alongs" with the delivery of the phone books - usually within a few days of the "new connect".

NEW HOUSEHOLDS Data on new connects by local phone companies are beginning to come on the marketplace. Original data on new household formation (in the form primarily of new home owners) is available for part of the country based on compilation at the offices of the various county clerks. Other services include Magazine change of address files, expansion of the DSF file by the USPS, correction via NCOA files by the USPS, comparison of current registers (car and telephone ownership) against prior, and local compiling efforts.

NEWSPAPER LISTS List data on engagements, births, deaths, and newsmaking items and changes published in newspapers.

NINE-DIGIT ZIP CODE A USPS system designed to provide an automated means to utilize an extended ZIP code to sort mail down to small contiguous areas within a carrier route. (It has now been expanded, in addressing, to 11 digits. It is now 20 years old and shows no indication of any kind that it has increased productivity at the USPS. Moreover, the system, as planned, will not be complete for a decade or more.) Also known as the ZIP+4. Comprised of the 5-digit ZIP Code, and the 4-digit add-on. The add-on describes a block face, a specific building, a specific floor, or a specific company.

NIXIE A piece of mail returned as "undeliverable as addressed." In direct mail, nixies always arrive before responses.

NODE A point of interconnection to a network. Normally, a point at which a number of terminals or circuits attach to the network.

NONPROFIT Over 350,000 institutions have qualified with the USPS as non-profit agencies and can mail at the nonprofit rate, a preferential rate which has been eroding of late.

Nth Used when the total number of records exceeds the number desired. Nth is a term used for selecting the total names in the list by the number chosen.

Nth NAME OR INTERVAL A statistical means to take a given number of names equally selected over the full universe of the list being sampled. The Nth number interval is derived by dividing the total names in the list by the sample number desired.



OCCUPANT Mail addressed to "Occupant" will get delivered to an address regardless of who resides at the address. Occupant mailings are usually saturation mailings that are sorted into carrier walk sequence.

OCCUPANT (RESIDENT) LISTS Lists compiled from households passed which consist of addresses only. The chief lists used for chain grocery and department store flyers. Include apartment numbers and are the only list source covering all 100 million households. Occupant lists are maintained not only in carrier-route order, but in carrier-walk order, the order the carrier utilizes in delivering to his route. (See DSF file of all addressable USPS delivery points.)

OFFER A description of what it is the mailer wishes the recipient to buy or request.

OFFICES Compilers of businesses with telephones can provide offices of professionals as well as multiple professionals per office.

ON-LINE AVAILABILITY A linkup system in which an operator at a remote terminal can obtain list information from a data bank or database at another location. Most database management systems provide virtually instantaneous on-line access to individual customer records for updating or selection. Fax on demand as well as almost all interactive activity on the Internet may be classified as "on-line".

ONE-SHOT MAILING An offer designed to make the sale in a single transaction. Usually the order margin on such an offer is substantial in an effort to clear a profit (against all costs) by this one (and possibly only) sale.

ONE-TIME BUYER A single transaction buyer who has not placed an additional order.

ONE-TIME USE An established trade custom that a list rented for a mailing will not be used more than one time.

ONE-YEAR CONTRACT A form of lease in which the renter is granted unlimited use for one year (for one company use only) of a given set of compiled records. Usually treated as a "sale for one year."

OPERATING SYSTEM The basic software that runs on a computer and is responsible for all the things a computer has to keep track of, such as files and disks and printers.

OPPORTUNITY SEEKER A class of mail order buyers or prospects that seeks a new and different way to make an income. This ranges from people who wish some modest way to work at home, or "at their homes" to expensive franchises.

OPTICAL CHARACTER READER (OCR) An electronic scanning device that can read characters, either typed with a special OCR font, or computer created, and convert these characters to magnetic form. The 9-digit zip code system is designed to utilize an OCR to read the address back and to print a 9-digit bar code on the piece. A few lists are now being created by scanning alphabetic phone books. No real headway as yet has been made to use OCR to convert classified (yellow pages) telephone files.

"OR CURRENT RESIDENT" A line added via computer to a three-line consumer list in an attempt to obtain greater deliverability and readership in case of a change in residential personnel.

ORDER ENTRY PROCEDURE The process of capturing the name, address, item, dollars, and key for a transaction, and connecting it to electronic data which then triggers creation of a picking document, a billing document, and usually the effect of that transaction upon inventory and inventory control.

ORDER FORM Key to good direct mail. What the customer is to fill in per your direction.

ORDER MARGIN The sum represented by the differential between all costs (except promotion) and the selling price (after returns).

OUTGOING CALLS A log of outbound calls, including duration, usually by trunk or line, or agent.

OUTPUT For a list, the form in which the computer produces the record - as a tape, as a label, as a short list, as a diskette, as a tape reel, or as a tape cartridge. Also, the quantity or amount of information that has been processed by a computer.


OVERLAYS The authorized use of a list to add information and data, through match identification, by tagging to another list. The transfer can be demographics, or a telephone number, or a job function, even psychographic data on buying habits.

OWNERS The owners of mail order response lists are the operators of mail response companies. They "own" the customer and inquiry lists that they offer on the list rental market. All such proprietary lists must be "cleared" by such owners or their agents to be rented for one-time mailing by others. Owners can also pertain to possessions - particularly homes, or cars, computers.



PACKAGE The mailing piece as placed in the mail stream; can be a package to fulfill a request for information.

PACKAGE INSERTS Mail response offers by outside operators placed in current packages being sent to most recent customers of a given mail order firm. New customers receive package inserts before their names and addresses are available for promotion or rental. These package inserts offer greater recency than any other form of promotion.

PACKAGE TEST A test of two or more packages, one of which should be the current "standard" to determine which package to mail on any continuation.

PACKET A group of bits (including data and all control signals) transmitted as a whole on a packet-switching network. Usually smaller than a transmission block.

PAID CIRCULATION Subscribers to a magazine who pay for the privilege of receiving the publication.

PANDERING LIST List of individuals who have reported receipt of sexually offensive literature to the USPS to insure that the same mailer cannot, except by facing criminal charges, mail similar matter to them again.

PANEL A group of people of similar interests used for research purposes.

PARENT & SUBSIDIARIES Computer programs can now produce a "tree" for each parent corporation, to includes its branches and branch plants and subsidiaries, even if the latter does not use the name of the parent. For the country's largest 4,000 manufacturers, this produces a file of over 500,000 subs and branches.

PARSE To divide a group of words and/or numbers into components. In data processing, parsing typically puts first and last name into their own fields, title into its own field, primary and secondary addresses into their own fields, etc.

PARSING A system of analyzing a name and address record - by each of its parts, individually. An essential step to successful matching of one file to another.

PARTITION A segment or piece of an operating system on a computer within which a particular job is processed. In mainframe computers, different partitions can be assigned different parts of a single project, with all parts running concurrently.

PASS-ALONG EFFECT Mailings to businesses may benefit from this effect as executives tend to forward particularly interesting mail to their associates. Businesses catalog mailers seek to harness this effect by printing a group of germane titles on the cover as a suggested routing for such pass-along readership.

PASSING A FILE This process of reading a file sequentially by computer to select and/or copy specific data.

PASSWORD A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as "virtue 7".

PAYMENT RATE The percentage of respondents who buy on credit or take a trial on credit and who then pay.

PAYMENT, METHOD OF A record or tag showing how a customer paid for a purchase (by check or credit card or money order). Available as a selection factor on a number of response lists.

PC A personal computer. There are now two very different types of PC's, which represent two different generations: 1) The original concept was a miniature, stand-alone, independent machine, which talks only to itself, and which needs to run only as fast as the single operator could think. 2) The next generation is the networked PC, which communicates both with other PCs on the network, and with the file server, which stores common data to eliminate redundancy and to increase network performance.


PENETRATION The relationship between the number of names on a segment of a customer file and the universe available for that segment expressed as a percentage or ratio--that is, 2 percent or 1 in 50.

PENETRATION ANALYSIS A study made of the "share of market" held by a given mailer within various universes by classification or other demographic characteristics. For business mailers, the chief means to ascertain which markets by SIC and number of employees are most successfully penetrated in order to prospect more efficiently. This type of analysis is preceded by a customer profile based on SIC and number of employees. Sadly, most Business-to-Business mailers do not as yet utilize an 8-digit SIC, and the number who have found the great advantage of a "Share of Market" study is still surprisingly rare.

PERIODICAL Lists of recipients of printed material mailed to them on a regular or periodical cycle; primarily magazines and newsletters.

PERIODICALS MAIL Classification Reform will restructure and re-name the current Second Class. A new Publications Service will be added as a subclass to regular rate mail.

PERIPHERAL Peripheral list thinking is the creation of a variant kind of audience from that specified. For example: To the parents of College Student or High School Student X; titling to Mrs. X from a list of doctors by name and address at home; addressing a child by name, to attract the eye of the parent; inviting the new neighbors to view a new car at a given address.

PERSONALIZATION A means to add the name of the individual to a mailing piece; or the use of a computer to input data about the psychographics of the customer being addressed. The wave of the future will see entire catalogs printed and selectively bound to match personal data identification.

PHONE LIST See Telephone List.

PIECE RATE Third class mail breaks into two main streams, third class bulk (for discounts) and third class piece rate. For the price of a first class stamp, a piece weighing up to 3-1/2 ounces may be placed in the mail stream without any prior sortation. This charge is substantially greater than the unit charge for third class bulk mail, and this differential is bound to increase. Mail that is not presorted is charged at the piece rate.

PKZIP The most common compression (see definition) utility used on PC-generated files. Files are said to be "zipped" when PKZIP has been applied. "Unzipping" a file involves decompressing one that has been PKZIP'd.

POLITICAL LISTS There are two main forms of political lists, voter registration files mailed primarily during political campaigns, and fundraising files of donors to political causes of different hues.

POSITIVE OPTION A book club on positive option mails mainly offers of new selections to its membership and solicits orders as a catalog mailer might. There is no obligation to buy.

POST-DIRECTIONAL What differentiates Pennsylvania Ave NW from Pennsylvania Ave SW is the post-directional. directionals (North, South, East, West, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest) may be pre- or post-, depending upon whether they precede the street name or follow it.

POSTAGE REFUND A sum returned to a mailer by an owner or manager for non deliverables exceeding a stipulated guarantee.

PPP (Point To Point Protocol) Most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make a TCP/IP connection and thus be really and truly on the Internet . PPP is gradually replacing SLIP for this purpose. See also: IP number, Internet, SLIP, TCP/IP.

PRE-DIRECTIONAL What differentiates East Main St. from West Main St. is the pre-directional. Directionals (North, South, East, West, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest) may be pre- or post-, depending upon whether they precede the street name or follow it.

PRECLEARANCE The act of getting clearance on a rental before sending in the order.

PREMIUM (Premium Buyer) An addition of a gift to an offer to induce greater responses. Usually a buyer who responds may keep the premium, which raises the cost per completed sale, particularly if the product ordered is subsequently returned or cancelled.

PRESORT Mailers can earn postage discounts by sorting mail and putting it in trays or sacks that can then be easily routed by the USPS. Containers of mail destined for the same 3-digit ZIP location (3-digit sortation), or to the same a 5-digit ZIP location (5-digit sortation), or to the same carrier route (carrier route sortation) can be transported and processed more quickly, and so earn discounts. Mail that isn't presorted (residual or basic rate) must be sorted within the postal system several times before reaching its final destination.

The USPS offers discounts for those who prepare the mail for direct delivery to post offices or to carriers at post offices. While little known, over half of all for-profit third class bulk mail is now mailed at carrier-route presort discount rates.

PRICE LINING Price lining in retail parlance means choosing either even dollars or selected endings in cents ($11.95) to obtain best sales results. In direct mail parlance pricing lining means testing a group of prices through a grid test to permit the buying public to select for the operator the one price producing the most bottom-line profit.

PRIMARY ADDRESS A street number and name, a P.O. Box or Rural Route number. (See Secondary Address.)

PRINTOUT A copy on a sheet listing of a list, or of some selected data on a list such as matched pairs indicating duplication from a merge-purge, or an array of largest buyers or donors.

PRIOR LIST SUPPRESS Utilization of prior data to remove matching data from a new run and thus reduce the payment for the list data as used.

PRIORITY For a continuation, arranging the tested lists and list segments in descending order on the basis of number of responses, or number of dollars of sales per thousand pieces mailed. For political mail, a special next day delivery service offered by the USPS. For a merge-purge, one method of payment for duplicates.

PRIVACY Consumer dissatisfaction, often exceedingly vocal, over possible utilization of attributes (as selection factors) which border on invasion of personal privacy; some items such as medical records, credit ratings, sexual interest are quite possibly beyond the pale. Common demographics, such as age, inferred income, size of family, length of residence, brand use, or car ownership are all reasonably acceptable by all but a small fringe group. It is likely though that more will have to be done by list compilers and list users to defuse what is now perhaps the number one problem in direct mail - the sector of government regulation of the list business - on the Internet.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS See Public Schools.

PRIVATIZATION The movement, worldwide to convert government run postal services to private or semi-private ownership and operation.

PRIZM A lifestyle segmentation tool developed by Claritas that in it latest version divides the United States, through Census Data at the Census Block Group level (an average of 340 households), into 62 types of neighborhoods. They believe six broad categories are critical in defining those neighborhood types: Social Rank, Household Composition, Mobility, Ethnicity, Urbanization and Housing.

PROCESS A function being performed or waiting to be performed.

PROFESSIONALS Every professional with a telephone listing is available from major business compilers. There are some thirty classifications from architects to veterinarians. A fair-sized number can be reached at home addresses. A new list on the market based on a classified list of doctors (MDs) with phones has verified addresses and phone numbers of over 100,000 of some 190,000 physicians in private practice.

PROFILE Data that describes the significant characteristics of a user, a group of users, or one or more computer resources.

PROGRAM A sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret and process.

PROJECTED ROLLOUT RESPONSE Based on test results, the response anticipated from a large continuation or program.

PROMOTIONAL LIST See Cost in the Mail.

PROPORTIONAL ALLOCATION When two or more lists provide the same record, this form of accounting gives each the same share.

PROSPECT LIST A list owned by others used to obtain new customers, subscribers, donors, or requesters.

PROSPECTING Mailings made to lists, usually untried, owned by others. It is not too well understood that prospecting to cold lists results in a cost to buy an inquiry or a sale 99% of the time.

PROTECTED MAILING DATE A time, usually one or two weeks prior and one or two weeks after the protected mail date for a large quantity of names, in which the list owner guarantees no competitive offer will be given access to the list.

PROTOCOL A formal set of conventions governing the formatting and relative timing of message exchange between two communicating systems. A system that two computers agree on.

PSEUDO-CARRIER ROUTES The USPS Carrier Route (CRIS) Tape lists millions of bits of data to delineate 160,000 individual carrier routes. Major consumer compilers break up the areas not serviced by individual carriers into 240,000 extra pseudo-carrier routes for marketing penetration selection or omission.

PSEUDO-SEQUENCE NUMBER To sort mail files into carrier walk sequence, DSF processing identifies the USPS-assigned sequence number for each address, and puts addresses into order by that number. The USPS number cannot be released to mailers. To identify the proper sequence for mailing, DSF processing replaces the USPS number with a pseudo-sequence number that is specific for that particular file.

PSEUDO SICs The United States Department of Commerce has created a 4-digit numerical system with some 1,050 classifications - called the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). List compilers first added a fifth character to this to cover the thousands of classifications based by the Department of Commerce under Not Elsewhere Classified. Now the two major list compilers, Dun & Bradstreet and Database America, have extended the 4-digits to an 8-digit SIC system, with over 10,000 classifications. This is a hierarchical system in which each 8-digit SIC is contained within its own 4-digit SIC. Eight-digit is now the accepted standard for Business-to-Business marketing and management.

PSYCHOGRAPHICS The lifestyle characteristics or qualities of individuals on a list which indicate living styles; purchase, reading and hobby habits; opinions, mores, and social roles. The affinity of such psychographics are matched as closely as possible to a specific offer.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS All schools are available by type (Public, Private, Special) and by pupil enrollment. There are some 100,000 Public Schools (all with phones) in America.


PULL Usually refers to the proportion of response by mail or phone to a given promotional activity.

PURGE The act of identifying and eliminating duplicate or undesirable names from a mailing list or from a file of names.

PYRAMIDING See Continuation.



QUALIFICATION SORTATION Third class bulk mail sorted to meet USPS qualification for three different mail streams. Also pertains to leads verified as to potential by field or phone research.

QUALIFIED LEADS Names and addresses of individuals who have taken a positive action to indicate genuine interest in a given type of offer. Also pertains to leads verified as to potential by research.

QUANTITY PRICING Pricing, usually by compilers, offering price breaks for varying list quantities rented over a period of a year.

QUERY A question posed to the computer based on specific criteria to extract records from the database.

QUOTE, QUOTATION A price transmitted to a prospective mailer before running of a list order requiring special processing.



RAM (Random-Access Memory) Semiconductor read/write volatile memory. Data stored is lost if power is turned off.

RATE OF RESPONSE See Response Rate.

RE-CLASSIFICATION A set of hearings before the Postal Rate Commission early in 1995 designed to bring into better balance postal rates charged for various classes of mail.

RECENCY The group of names on a file with the most recent purchase or activity.

RECORD A name and address entry on a file. A self-contained collection of information about a single object. A record is made up of a number of distinct items, called fields.

RECORD LAYOUT A description covering the entire record length to denote where on a tape each part (or field) of the record appears such as name, local address, city, state, zip, and other relevant data.

RECORD LENGTH The number of characters occupied by each record on a file.

REFORMATTING Changing a computerized tape list to a different type layout.

REFUND For a list, return of part of payment due to shortage in count, or excessive non-deliverables (over the guarantee). For a product sold by mail, a complete (usually) return of the purchase price if an item is returned in good condition. Refunds of style merchandise normally run 10 percent or more, and their costs are built into the cost per completed sale.

REGISTRATION LIST See Telephone, Car, Driver's License, Voters Lists. Some business lists are constructed from state or local political division registration data.

REGRESSION ANALYSIS A statistical means to improve the predictability of response based on an analysis of multiple stratified relationships within a file.

REMOTE BAR CODING About 7% of the mail flow in America, called "Aunt Minnie Mail" is addressed by hand. The image of such mail which cannot be coded locally is moved electronically to one of a number of remote sites where a USPS clerk takes the time to read and study the address and decide on the correct 9-digit zip code. At that point, the 11-digit bar code is applied to the image, and that image, now bar coded is re-transmitted electronically and the piece is then entered into the mail sheaves. By mid-1995, the remote stations were bar coding an estimated 4 billion pieces per year, about 1/3 of the total addressed by hand.

RENTAL An agreement to utilize a list for one-time mailing.

REPEAT BUYER See Multiple Buyer.

REPEAT MAILING Mailing of the same or very similar packages to a list for the second time.

RESIDENT LIST See Occupant List.

RESIDUE When mail is sorted into tiers, at discounted costs, the balance which cannot so qualify is then mailed at the highest (piece) cost. This balance is called "Residue".

RESPONSE RATE The percentage of responses received from a given promotional effort.

RESPONSE TIME The time elapsed to access data or information on a computer, or a computerized system.

RESTRICTIONS Limitations on rental use placed on a list by its owner or manager.

RETAILING In the business field there are over 2 million retailers with telephones and several hundred thousand without. They are selectable by over eighty different specialized product lines. Catalogs are a special form of retailing in which the specialty store and its product line is brought to the home of the consumer rather than the consumer physically going to and entering the store.

RETURN CARD A postage paid business return card (BRC).

RETURN OF LISTS Lists are computer printed to order. There is no way they can be utilized by the owner. When list orders are cancelled after being run, negotiation for a run charge is required.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (R.O.I.) In direct response, the return on investment is one of the main ways to measure the effectiveness and profitability of any given promotional effort. Since response starts very quickly, dollars from an effort often permit multiple use of a given investment as the charges against that investment are being paid off, thus providing a particularly attractive "return" on the original dollars put to risk.

RETURN POSTAGE GUARANTEED An optional USPS delivery service. By printing this message in the upper left corner of a mailpiece, the mailer is requesting the return of any mailpieces that are undeliverable. The mailer pays return postage plus a return fee for each piece.

RETURN POSTAGE GUARANTEED Third class bulk mail so marked, if undeliverable, will be returned, for a fee.

RF$USISM Acronym covering major selection availabilities on major direct mail sold customer files: R = recency; F = frequency; $US = dollars (highest periodic, total); I = item or service purchased; S = source of initial order (not subsequent mailings by age on file); M = Method of payment. Large operations like Sears, Roebuck and Co. utilize over 160 "cells" based on this acronym.

RIDE-ALONG A form of co-op mailing in which outside offers are accepted to accompany the cold-prospecting mailing the ride-along provides.

ROLLOUT A continuation mailing after a successful test made to a full list or to a substantially larger portion of a list.

ROYALTY See List Royalty.

RUN CHARGE A charge by a list owner for names produced for a renter but not used. On a list order negotiated for an 85 percent payment, irrespective of the names utilized, the fee per thousand for the run charge, determined by the list owner, is billed for the balance or for 15 percent in this instance.

RURAL ROUTE A delivery route that is served by a motorized carrier in rural areas.



SALES TAX Current attempts by many state governments to impose a tax on goods sold via mail in their jurisdictions.

SALTING (Via Seeds, Dummies Or Decoys) Names with special characteristics added to a list for protection and identification purposes.

SAMPLE MAILING PIECE Owners or managers of mail response lists for protection of their lists, require presentation of a sample of what is to be mailed for review and clearance or rejection. Rough copy occasionally is acceptable.

SAMPLE SIZE See Test Sample.

SAS (Statistical Analysis System) A report generation programming language, typically used for complicated statistical analyses.

SCAMS A type of flat out fraud when the offer is a rip-off, often directed to vulnerable older unsophisticated citizens.

SCF (Sectional Center Facility) The first three digits of the ZIP code.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS These are the local headquarters for groups of schools in a given geographical entity such as a town, a city, or a county. Size of districts (by pupil enrollments) are available as a selection factor. There are some 18,000 School Districts (Public and Catholic) in America.

SCIENTISTS Just as there are different classifications of engineers available in list form, so there are lists of scientists available by their field of specialization from bio-chemists to physicists, from data system operators to geologists. Most such data comes from rosters of associations or from magazines.

SCORING (Also, see Weighting.) To provide potential (for business-to-business need) and probability of response to consumer mail, modeling programs effectively calculate a "score" or "weight" for each record. For business, such scored weights for each 8-digit SIC by one of the 9 employee size groups - are added together to provide comparable potentials for individual territories, branches, divisions or product groups. Consumer lists by similar means can be scored high to low in deciles.

SCRATCHING The term used to describe "wiping out" or erasing data from a magnetic tape.

SCREEN The use of an outside list (based on credit, income, deliverability, ZIP code selection) to suppress records on a list to be mailed.

SCROLL To move a display image vertically or horizontally to view data that otherwise cannot be observed within the boundaries of the display screen. Usually utilized to review a list of items in order - either up or down.

SEASONAL OCCUPANCY The Postal Service identifies addresses that are unoccupied during at least one season of the year. These Seasonal Addresses are coded on the USPS master file of deliveries (the AMS file) and on The Delivery Sequence File (The DSF file).

SEASONALITY Selection of time of year; also influence of timing (seasonality) on response rates.

SECOND CLASS Second class mail in the postal system covers periodicals. Under reclassification, this will be called "Periodicals Mail." Magazines and periodicals may be mailed at second class rates. To qualify, a publication must publish at least four times a year, and adhere to rules governing advertising and circulation of the publication.

SECONDARY ADDRESS On Consumer files, the apartment or suite number, mailstop, c/o, or building name. On Business files, the bill-to-address where different than the ship-to-address.

SECTIONAL CENTER FACILITY The first 3 digits of zip. A postal facility that receives and distributes mail that is going to or coming from post offices within its service area. Out of the 466 SCFs, roughly half of them service a single 3-digit ZIP area (typically a metro area with a multi-ZIP city).

SECURITY FILE A copy of a valuable file (the most recent update, for example) kept at a remote location. Often a copy sent by a process or to the owner of a list which then serves as a remote site copy.

SEED A dummy or decoy name inserted into a list.

SEEDS Additional names merged into the output order to determine if a mailing has been received or the number of times the list has been mailed.

SEGMENT A portion of a list or file selected on the basis of a special set of characteristics.

SEGMENTATION The process of segregating or selecting specific records from a list with specific criteria. Creating major customer segments or minimarkets using the most significant historical purchase data.

SELECTION The process of obtaining from a list, file, or data bank only those records with desired criteria. Often one select is within another, as $50 buyers, female, who have purchased in the last six months.

SELECTION CHARGE A fee above the basic cost of the list for a given selection.

SELECTION CRITERIA The options for segmenting a list open to a mailer.

SELF-MAILER All mail can be divided into three types: envelope mail, "flats," (large pieces requiring hand rather than machine handling) and "self-mailers" cards (on card stock) or folded pieces of paper placed in the mail stream without an outside carrier. The majority of catalogs are mailed without an envelope as "self-mailers," or "flats." "Three by five" cards can be mailed most economically.

SELF-STANDING STUFFERS Promotional printed pieces delivered as part of a daily or Sunday newspaper.

SENIOR CITIZENS Lists of older individuals past a specific age. Lists are available for over-50, 55, 60, 65 year olds, some by exact age.

SEQUENCE NUMBER A unique identification number assigned in sequence order to individual records in a given file. Once allocated to a given record, that sequence number cannot be used for any other record in that file. Arrays of such data may be in descending order, or ascending order.

SERVICE BUREAU See Computer Service Bureau.

SET-UP CHARGE A flat charge assessed on some lists in addition to the cost per thousand.

SEX This is now a significant selection factor in business lists as well as on consumer files. Female lists in business include over 30,000 top female executives in big business, over 300,000 working women subscribers to a magazine, over 1,500,000 owners of individual Keough investment plans.

SHIP TO ADDRESS Usually there is both a "Bill-To" address (for purchasing or accounting) and a ship-to address. The name on the latter may be the specifier or user.

SHIPPING TIME The approximate number of days required for production of a list order.

SIC Standard Industrial Classification, a system to provide a pigeonhole for every type of business, institution, and office of a professional.

SIC COUNT A count of the number of records for each 2-3-4 or 8-digit SIC. When SIC is appended by an overlay (against a master 8-digit SIC listing of all businesses), a "profile" results. From this profile, a penetration analysis can be produced. And, from such a "Share of Market" report, a model of a business can be provided with weighting given for each individual SIC record on the file.

SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE In mathematical terms, a difference between tests of two or more variables, which is sufficient to indicate that similar mailings will produce the same or similar differentiation. The significant difference varies with the confidence level desired. Most direct-mail prospecting utilizes a 95 percent confidence level wherein 95 times out of 100 the results found in the test will come close to duplicating on a retest or combination. It is fair to state that most mailers do not understand this term or its significance.

SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSEHOLD Private homes, housing only one household, as distinct from multiple-family residences.

SINGLES One or single-person households. Also refer to lists of unmarried adults usually for social linking.

SOFTWARE Computer programs that make computers usable.

SORTING A computerized process to change the given sequence of a list to a different sequence or to interfile two or more lists.

SOURCE CODE A key or code identifier on a list or list segment.

SPACE One of the major producers of new mail order buyers is mail order advertising in newspapers, magazines, and self-standing stuffers. Space ads, electronic media, and direct mail are the major media utilized for prospecting for new customers.

SPACE BUYER The media buyer (usually at an advertising agency) who places mail order advertising.

SPACE SOLD RECORDS Any record on a house file (customers, inquirers, catalog requests) which has been generated through advertising space placed in printed publications.

SPANISH LISTS Hispanics may in a few years exceed Blacks as the major ethnic minority in America. Lists based on surname selects are available to reach this market.

SPECIFIC LIST SOURCE Original source material for a compiled file.

SPECIFIC ORDER DECOY A seed or dummy inserted in the output of a list order for that order only. The specific seed, which identifies the order, is usually in addition to list protection decoys in the same list.

SPECIFIER An elusive list desideration, particularly at larger businesses, the name of the individual who can specify or purchase a product or service. In many cases the specifier is not the individual who enters the order.

SPLIT RUN Printing of two or more variants of a promotional ad run on an Nth or AB split through the entire edition; use of geographical segments of a publication for testing of variants.

SPLIT TEST A mailing in which two or more variants are tested simultaneously. (See also Grid Testing.)

SQL Structured query language, used in a mainframe computer environment.

SRDS (Standard Rate & Data Service) Prints a Rates and Data book covering basic information on over 20,000 mailing lists.

STANDARD INDUSTRIAL CLASSIFICATION A U.S. Dept. of Commerce assigned four-digit number by function and product for every U.S. business, institution, and office a professional. There are now some 1,050 4-digit SIC codes. Two major business list compilers now provide over 10,000 classifications utilizing the new business standard, the 8-digit SIC.

STANDARD MAIL Classification Reform will restructure and re-name the current Third Class. Standard mail will have three subclasses for preparation and for postage rates: Automation (bar-coded mail), Enhanced Carrier Route (carrier route mail sorted into the carrier's line-of-travel sequence), and Regular (includes 3/5 Presort and Basic Rate mail).

STANDARD METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA (SMSA) Major compilers provide proportions of a national list based on metropolitan area coverage.

STATE COUNT Publication of list counts for each state. Usually as part of a list card.

STATEMENT STUFFER See Billing Stuffer.

STATISTICAL MODEL A formula to predict future consumer response from historical data such as prior purchases or demographics.

STORAGE A data processing term indicating the volume of name and address and attached data which can be stored for future use on a given computer or system.

STRATIFICATION The capacity to offer demographic segmentation on a list; the adding of such demographics to a customer file.

STUDENT LISTS A number of compilers provide lists of students. For college students, both home and school addresses are available. For high school students, home addresses for juniors and seniors are available . . . for most but not all schools.

STUFFER A short form for self-standing stuffer, a form of promotion piece delivered with daily and Sunday newspapers.

SUBBLOCK Along with enumeration districts, the smallest geographical segment of the country for which the U.S. Census Bureau provides demographic data.

SUBSCRIBER A recipient of a magazine who has paid for the privilege.

SUBSIDIARIES Branch plant or branch operations under the mantle of a parent head office.

SUPPRESS FILES Files entered into a merge-purge for the express purpose of removing all records that match before mailing.

SUPPRESSION Utilization of data on one or more files to remove any duplication of specific names that the mailer wishes to be removed before mailing.

SUPPRESSION OF PREVIOUS USAGE This can be accomplished by using the previous usage or stat tab match codes of the records used as a suppress file. Unduplication can also be assured through fifth digit pulls, first digit of name pulls, or actual tagging of each prior record used.

SUPPRESSION OF SUBSCRIBERS The use of the subscriber file to suppress its current readers from rental lists prior to mailing.

SURNAME SELECTION For ethnic selection, the surname is a reasonable method for section of such easily identifiable groups as Irish, Italian (and hence Catholic), Jews and Spanish (actually Spanish-sounding names). Specialists have extended this type of coding to more esoteric groups such as German, English, Scotch, and Scandinavian.

SUSPECT A somewhat qualified cold prospect, one more likely to order than the cold prospect. In some two-step operations, a name given the initial inquirer when only one in X can be expected to convert.

SWEEPSTAKES LISTS (Sweeps) Responses, the majority of them non-buyers, to a sweepstakes offer.

SYNDICATION A mailing for a specialized offer prepared by a company having inventory or access to inventory which is mailed to its customer list by a company having nothing to do with the product except the use of its name to increase response. Oil company and utility and bank card stuffers are good examples. Some syndicated offers are so powerful that they can be successful as solo mailings.



TAB DELIMITED FILE A file produced by, and readable by, a PC, wherein individual records are separated by keyboard tabs.

TAGGING The process of tagging information to a list, Can be the transfer of data or control information for usage and unduplication.

TAKE-ONES Direct Response offers available in boxes or displays to be "taken" by any who see them. An inexpensive way to distribute simple consumer offers at high traffic locations.

TAPE Refers to magnetic tape, the principal means of recording, storing and retrieving data for computerized mailing list operations.

TAPE CONVERSION Converting hard copy data to magnetic tape.

TAPE DENSITY The number of bits of data packed into one inch of magnetic tape (BPI). The usual densities today are 1600 BPI and 6250 BPI.

TAPE DUMP A printout, character by character, of a few hundred records of a tape sent along with the tape and its layout as a checking copy.

TAPE FORMAT (OR LAYOUT) The location of each field, character by character, of each record on a list on tape.

TAPE (OR CARTRIDGE) LIBRARY Good practice calls for reproducing every tape as it is recorded and logged into the tape depository or library. It is essential to provide and maintain all needed data on each such file.

TAPE REEL One of the media on which data for computer addressing or merge-purging is handled.

TARGET MARKET The ideal audience for a mailing effort. Usually defined in psychographic and demographic terms.

TEASER A bit of introductory copy, usually on the outside envelope, to induce the recipient to open the envelope and find out more.

TELEMARKETING The use of the telephone to increase sales to customers, inquiries, catalog requesters. Phoning to prospects who already have a relationship to the caller. (See Teleprospecting.)

TELEPHONE HOUSEHOLD A household with a listed phone number. (Random access calling can ring unlisted and non- published numbers).

TELEPHONE HOUSEHOLDS Those households with phones listed in alphabetic phone books (now some 70 million).

TELEPHONE LIST A list of consumers (usually) or establishments compiled with phone numbers from published phone directories. Both consumers with listed phones and business establishments with phones are available now on CD ROM - for the entire United States.

TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE A program instituted in 1985 by the DMA to provide consumers a means to have their names removed from the calling lists of teleprospectors.

TELEPHONE USE RESTRICTION A large number of owners of mail order lists will not permit their customers to be called by strangers by phone.

TELEPROSPECTING Cold canvassing of telephone households or telephone non-households by personal phone calls. (Not to be confused with telemarketing which pertains to calls made to customers or inquirers.)

TELEPROSPECTING LIST A list of prospects with phones used for telephonic (cold calling) prospecting.

TERMINAL More and more dumb (receive only) terminals are being replaced by PCs (as Smart Terminals). The origin of list orders electronically connected to a master list source.

TEST CAMPAIGN Mailings of test pieces to number of outside lists to establish a bank for continuation mailings; must not be to only one list which is a "continuous series of one experiment."

TEST QUANTITY A test mailing of a sufficiently large number of names from a list to enable the mailer to evaluate the responsiveness of the list. The test quantity must satisfy three conditions. It must be a reasonably random sample of the universe, it must be large enough to provide break-even response for the mailer, and it must provide enough response for statistical validity. Most mailers require fifty to one-hundred responses. (Note: The size of the test quantity has nothing to do with the size of the list.)

TEST SAMPLES When initially testing lists, a sample of names is drawn - by Nth number, or zip spread, or by 5th digit of zip. The samples are to be equal, irrespective of the varying sizes of the lists. The tests must deliver enough responses to meet two additional basic requirements - break-even on the tests and sufficient responses for statistical validity.

THIRD CLASS MAIL Over 85 percent of mail carrying advertising or promotional material utilizes third class postage which costs considerably less than first class. Primarily advertising mail. Piece weight can be up to 16 ounces. Will be called "Standard Mail" under Classification Reform.

THIRD CLASS PERMITS There are now over 850,000 establishments with permit numbers entitling them to mail via third class bulk mail. Some 350,000 are for nonprofits; 500,000 and more are issued to for-profit establishments. This is roughly 1 of every 10 establishments in the United States.


THIRD PARTY ENDORSEMENT A mailing made for the joint benefit of an outside mailer and a company over the company's customer file, with the express imprimatur of the company. (Example: Brittanica mailing the Farm Journal list with an offer ostensibly from the publication to its subscribers.)

THREE-DIGIT ZIP The first three digits of a five-digit zip code denoting a given SCF (sectional center facility) of the USPS.

THREE-DIGIT ZIP CODE The first three digits of the 5-digit ZIP Code. These three digits identify a specific geographical area, usually a city or a Sectional Center Facility. On average, a 3-digit ZIP contains roughly 45 ZIP Codes.

THREE-FIVE DIGIT SORT One of the three levels of sortation for third class bulk mail. All addresses destined for the same 3-digit ZIP are sorted together and placed in trays or bags, and all addresses destined for the same 5-digit ZIP are sorted together and placed in trays or bags.

THREE-LINE ADDRESS For consumer mail, a conventional home or household address of an individual; for business mail, the name and address of an establishment, without the name of an individual.

TIERS Postal rates for 3rd class mail differ due to qualification and mail make-up. These various price segments are called tiers, and a computer printout with counts is required for acceptance by the USPS.

TIME BUYER The media buyer (usually at a specialized agency for direct response electronic media) who "buys" time periods and spots for direct response radio or video promotion.

TIME ZONING SEQUENCING Providing lists with phones for telemarketing or teleprospecting by time zones for most productive calling.

TIMING See Seasonality.

TITLE ADDRESSING Utilizing the title or function at a business, or adding a title to a business address rather than addressing to a specific person by name.

TOKEN In direct-mail sweepstakes packages, a paper piece to be punched out and placed in one of two slots, usually "yes" or "no." It is a means to get involvement on the part of the prospect.

TOKEN RING A way of connecting computers in a local area network. A competitor of Ethernet.

TOWN MARKERS Asterisks printed on mailing labels at the end of geographical areas by the computer, usually one for each town, two for each five-digit zip code, three for each three-digit zip code sectional center facility. Also, see Bag & Bundle Markers.

TRACK RECORD What a given list or list segment has done for given mailers in the past.

TRADE SHOW REGISTRANTS Registrants published by Trade Show Operators: those registrants who stopped at a given booth and signed up to receive additional information or a sales call; those individuals or executives assigned by their companies to operate the booth or booths.

TRANSACTION REPORT Usually a count of the number of transactions (inquiries or sales) logged over a given period of time. Updates are often accompanied by reports of transactions by type.

TREE A LAN topology that recognizes only one route between two nodes on the network. The map resembles a tree or the letter T.

TRIALS Individuals who ordered a short-term subscription to a magazine or newsletter, or continuity program. In list rental parlance, trials are not equal to those that convert to full customer status.

TRUNCATION Dropping the end of words or names to fit an address line into thirty characters for four-across cheshire addressing.

TURNOVER RATE The number of times within a year that a list is or can be rented.

TWO-STEP See Inquiries.

TYPE AND SCAN A computerized data entry system that utilizes data typed by typewriter with a special font that is then optically scanned to magnetic tape.



U.S. BUSINESS UNIVERSE A database containing the names and addresses of virtually every business, institution, and office of a professional in the United States. Some 9.8 million are available through commercially available sources.


UNDELIVERABLES A nixie--a piece returned as not being deliverable. Pertains to Third Class Pieces "Undeliverable as addressed". These are returned to sender if fee for such service is authorized, otherwise they are trashed by the USPS. Undeliverable first class is so marked and return to sender. See "Nixie".

UNIQUE RECORDS When two tests are merge purged, three outputs are created - the matched names (both A & B) A names only, B names only. These last two are records unique to just one file.

UNIQUE ZIP CODE A five-digit ZIP code assigned by the USPS to a company or organization to expedite delivery of its large volume of incoming letter mail. With the advent of ZIP + 4 a large number of businesses and institutions will have their own unique ZIP codes.

UNIVERSE Defined as the total number of records. A universe can refer to a database, a query, or a mailing. Also, the total names and addresses in a given list or segment.

UNIX A powerful computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is "multi-user") and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

UPDATES Additions or changes to a database that occur periodically to keep the file current.

UPDATING The process of maintaining and keeping a file current, usually on a scheduled basis.

UPPER (OR LOWER) CASE Type computer set or created in caps. Can be caps only, or caps upper case plus lower case - as in new data as if typewritten.

UPS The initials of the United Parcel Service, a major supplier of small package delivery (with tracing capabilities) of mailing list tapes and labels, and direct mail sold packages.

UPSCALE LIST A generic description of a list of affluents. Can be mail-responsive or compiled.

USAGE HISTORY A listing of utilization by mailers or managers or brokers of a given list.

USER INTERFACE The hardware, software, or both that allows you to interact with and perform operations on a computer.

USER PROFILE (1) A description of a user, including user ID, user name, default group name, password, owner, access authority, and other attributes obtained at logon. (2) A file in the user's home directory named .profile that contains shell commands that set initial user-defined characteristics and defaults for the session.

UTILITIES One of the major groupings of business lists. Often included with mining, contracting, manufacturing, and transportation as part of the "industrial complex" of America. (This does not include wholesaling, retailing, finance, or services.)



VALIDATION MAILING A second modest mailing to confirm initial test results prior to making a large continuation or rollout.

VARIABLE LENGTH RECORD A means of packing characters on a name and address record so as to eliminate blank spaces. For most rental work such lists must then be reformatted to fixed fields, in which each field whether filled or unfilled occupies the same numerical positions on a tape.

VARIABLES (CRITERIA) Identifiable and selectable characteristics that can be tested for mailing purposes.

VENDORS Suppliers of any facet of direct-response advertising. Includes lists, creative, printing, marketing, computerization, merge-purge, fulfillment.

VIDEODISC A disc on which programs are recorded for playback on a computer (or a television set); a recording on a videodisc.

VOLUME DISCOUNT A scheduled discount for volume buyers of a given compiled list.

VOTERS REGISTRATION LISTS Lists utilized to add multiple family members as well as age data to compiled consumer files. At election time, such lists are crucial for candidate use. Most locally compiled voter lists can only be used for registration and election purposes.



WALK-ORDER Lists sorted to individual carrier routes in the precise order in which each route is walked for delivery of the mail. Almost all occupant or resident mail is in Walk-Order sequence. Any list matched against the DSF (Delivery Sequence File) is automatically sorted into walk-sequence.

WALLET FLAP ENVELOPE A special BRE that utilizes the inside of a large flap to serve as the order form.

WARRANTEE LISTS Buyers who mail in warrantee cards identifying the particular product and its type, with or without additional demographic data.

WATS (Wide Area Telephone Service) Almost all direct mail operators selling to consumers as well as to businesses provide WATS for free inbound telephone communication for their customers. Many also buy area coverage for outbound WATS.

WEIGHTING For evaluation of customer lists, a means to apply values to the RF$UISM data for each cell. (For large lists this is better one by a computer regression analysis.) For merge-purge, a means to apply a form of mathematical analysis to each component for unduplicating. (Also, see Scoring.)

WEIGHTS The level of importance given to historical purchase data or demographic attributes in predicting future consumer response.

WHITE MAIL Mail that comes in from customers without a purchase order form or other identification, It can include complaints, commendations, names of friends, "hate" mail, orders, checks, even cash. A very important part of every direct- mail operation.

WHOLESALER (OR RE-SELLER) A merchandiser of lists compiled or owned by others, usually working with compiled lists mainly covering a local area. Differentiated from a broker by type of list and coverage.

WINDOW ENVELOPE An envelope produced with one or more openings, usually glassine covered, through which the address of a direct-mail piece shows along with some color or teaser copy, if there are two areas. The window envelope is preferred for computer-addressed personalized mail which can be folded to show the address and thus not need a separate addressing on the envelope.

WINDOWS An operating system for the PC that includes a graphical user interface.

WORD PROCESSOR A typewriter with a memory utilized to produce individualized letters; also useful in updating of smaller mailing lists.

WORKING WOMEN A relatively new selection factor for mailers. Lists may be compiled (as women executives of S&P major companies) or mail order responsive (as paid subscribers to Working Women magazine.)

WORKSTATION Though this term gets bandied about in a lot of different contexts, it generally means high-powered microcomputers with big screens.



YIELD The count anticipated from a computer inquiry; the responses received from a promotional effort, the mailable totals from a merge-purge.

YUPPIES A term describing young upwardly mobile professional people.


ZIP+4 Specific segments of geography within each ZIP Code are identified by a 4-digit number. Added to the ZIP Code, this number can designate a block face (one side of a block, from one intersection to the next), a specific building, a group of residences/businesses within a building, a specific floor or a specific company within a building.

ZIP + 4 CODE The designation by the USPS for the nine-digit ZIP coding structure. There are over 21,000,000 9-digit zip codes.

ZIP CODE A 5-digit number that identifies a specific piece of postal geography. The first digit identifies the postal region, the first three identify the city or Sectional Center Facility, and all five identify a specific post office. There are over 40,000 ZIP Codes, not including the unique ZIPS, within the US postal system.

Zip code areas range from a few dozen locations for smaller cities and towns to concentration of over 20,000 in major city markets. The average number of households in a 5-digit zip code is 4,000.

ZIP CODE COUNT The number of names in each zip code on a given mailing list.

ZIP CODE OMISSION The use of a zip code suppress file to eliminate all records from a mailing in given zips.

ZIP STRING Compilers can provide multiple selections merged into one zip code string to avoid minimums. In the SIC system, each record can be individually coded and counted so response can be calculated.