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Different Types of Envelopes and Their Uses

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There are more uses for envelopes than just enclosing letters. They can contain heavy and solid items as well. Many envelopes are available for consumers to buy with several different lining and adhesive options. This article will explore the most common types and their applications so you can make an informed decision that will cater to your needs. 


A Bit of History 

There were crude renderings of envelopes made from clay before the advent of the paper envelope, primarily used for correspondence in 2000 BC in Babylon. China’s earliest use of a paper envelope was created about 200 BC. It was handmade, and instead of using it for sending letters and messages, the people in China sent gifts of money inside them. In Japan, affluent men would send gifts to their families after someone died using these initial envelopes. 

From the Medieval era to the Industrial Revolution, the envelope improved in functionality through the years. Different patents were created for a “sticky gum” to close the envelope and envelopes with a window. 


Parts of an Envelope

The standard envelope consists of paper that has been glued and folded to form the shape of a rectangle or square encasing. There is one edge left open that has a flap. This flap folds over and seals the materials inside. There are nine main parts to the design of an envelope. The following (in alphabetical order) are those specific parts. 


  • Bottom flap (back)
  • Bottom fold
  • Face
  • Seal flap
  • Seal (gum)
  • Shoulder
  • Side flap
  • Side fold
  • Throat

The Types of Envelopes

The word envelope, also meaning “wrapper,” stems from a French word in the 1700s that means “to envelop.” President Grant Johnson (Johnson Direct) states there are just two reasons why an envelope exists. The first is “to securely carry its contents from origin to destination,” and the second is “to get opened.” However, the modest envelope is much more than that and deserves additional credit. It protects and keeps your written communication private but holds great power in the way it can contain positive or negative news or information. 



This envelope is designed with square flaps and is often used for cards, invitations, brochures, announcements, corporate stationery, booklets, and advertisements. They are available in a bunch of sizes, textures, and colors. Under the A-Style umbrella, there are four common kinds of Announcement Envelopes. They include the following: 


  • Social 
  • Commercial
  • Traditional 
  • Contemporary 


This style envelope has a big, pointed flap and is deeper than your usual A-style. It has classic and ceremonial characteristics that make them useful for invites, announcements, and cards. The Baronial design comes in a vast number of colors and textures. They also come in four different sizes to ensure a perfect fit.



Square envelopes stand out because of their particular design. They have a square flap (hence the name) and a sturdy side seam. People often utilize this envelope class for specific greeting cards, advertising, invitations, and special announcements. You might need to pay for extra postage when using this envelope style.



This type of envelope is most common for business communication and is available in different styles of flaps and sizes. The #10 envelope with a square or commercial flap design is the most popular. They are great for checks, invoices, statements, and direct mail because they can be run through a machine. These efficient envelopes can also be used for letterhead and personal mail. They open with a top edge, and their seams are diagonal. 


The square flap is favorable for printing methods like thermography and engraving but should not be used for machine insertion. The policy flap has the opening of the envelope on the end and is used for invitations, marketing, and advertising purposes. The Dimension Lengthwise (DL) type has a privacy feature making your correspondence confidential. It is ideally used for A4 paper that has been folded into thirds. 


Envelopes are helpful for a lot of different businesses. Car dealerships, for example, use license plate envelopes to mail their customers their license plates. These License Plate Envelopes can be purchased from MBR Marketing at:



They are heavy-duty envelopes that are usually bigger than announcement-style envelopes and are often used for brochures, sales information, proposals, reports, and folders. Their opening is lengthwise with a traditional flap style and can be used in machine insertion apparatus. You can choose from a square flap design or a “peel-and-seal” type that is suitable for many applications. It comes in sizes 9 x 12 or 10 x 13. 



This open-ended envelope, having a center seam, is excellent for mailing heavy-duty and multiple items. People tend to use catalog envelopes for catalogs, presentation documents, and numerous materials. 



This article covered the most standard class of envelopes, but believe it or not, there are 19 different kinds! This doesn’t even involve types of glues, linings, and sizes. That amount covers the construction methods and shapes of the evolved envelopes. What is realized now is that envelopes are more than just enclosing letters. 


We live in a fast-paced, technological world where the internet has evolved how we correspond with people both socially and for our jobs. Regardless, billions of envelopes are used worldwide annually to send messages, materials, and business information. Despite how things have evolved digitally, envelopes remain part of our lives and will probably continue to do so for years to come.