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A Quick Guide to Magazine Inserts

Add some marketing power to your publication!

We’ve all been there… impatiently waiting in a seemingly never-ending line to have our groceries scanned. To kill time, we leaf through one of the magazines conveniently stacked around us. If you gave that magazine a good shake, chances are a few small cards will tumble to the ground. Similarly, you might even find some of these cards stitched directly into the binding. In the biz, we call these magazine inserts.

For association publications, inserts are an excellent way to advertise membership, upcoming events, and new member benefits. But they can also be tricky your first time. If you don’t know the head-trim or postal requirements so that the piece mails correctly, you could face a rejected mailing or get hit with hefty additional costs. This is why we’ve developed a brief guide to inserts, with everything you should consider before you get started.

Stitch-In vs. Polybag?

This scenario is based on a four-page insert.

If your magazine does not polybag already, stitching into the magazine makes the most sense. If you are mailing periodically, the additional postage cost is minimal since it is added to the overall magazine’s advertising vs. editorial ratio. Another option is mailing presorted standard, meaning there are fewer than 200 addressed pieces of mail sorted and prepared according to postal standards. If you decide to mail presort standard, you will want to keep the combined weight of your magazine and the insert to four ounces or less to avoid higher postage costs.

In order to stitch into a magazine or member publication, one side of your insert can not exceed the magazine size; smaller than the magazine is a popular choice to help the insert stand out. The other side of the insert should be a minimum of 3” (flap) with a ¼” pick-up/lap. Keep in mind the trim that the saddle binder will cut off to ensure you don’t cut into your insert – 3/16” from all three sides (top/head, bottom/foot, right/face). If the insert is going to be smaller than the magazine size, then you may just need to include head trim only. Where you would like your “two sides” of your insert to appear in the magazine will determine the direction of the fold. If you would like the 3” flap to appear sooner in the magazine you will want to fold it to the front and vice versa.

If your magazine is polybagged, that expense is already covered. With a polybag you have a few options for your four-page insert. You can stitch it in, blow it inside the magazine (randomly), or have it be loose in the bag. If mailing periodical you will want to stitch it in to keep the postage cost to a minimum (added to the advertising vs. editorial ratio) or you will pay approximately $.175 per magazine under the Post Office’s “ride-along” classification. However, in some cases, if your insert’s content “relates enough” to your magazine (not an ad) you can simply add “Supplement to <<your publication title>>” to the front cover and it will fall under the ad/edit ratio with the magazine. The Presort Standard rates four-ounce maximum rule still applies. To get this all right the first time, an experienced designer as well as someone who is well-educated in postal requirements is essential to save you time and money.

If you have any lingering questions or you’re ready to discuss adding an insert to your publication, send us an email!

beth-pico

Article written by:

Elizabeth Pico

Senior Client Success Manager

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