Last updated: August 16, 2021

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An invitation letter, a thank you note, an important payment or simply a postcard to send greetings is nothing without a good envelope to protect it and keep its contents safe.

This product may seem very simple and unnoticed, but its importance goes from the simplest levels of our lives to the most important formalities at a global level.

Especially thanks to its diversity of functions and models to suit every need.
Their variety of options and ease of purchase and use will make you want at least one of each. Here we will tell you about the features it must have, the different forms you will find and the most outstanding models on the market today.




Summary

  • Envelopes are covers made (mainly) of paper to hold papers or other objects such as banknotes, coins and the like; all in order to be sent or received from one person to another.
  • When looking for envelopes, you will find 2 most frequent models: those with a regular or traditional structure and those in pouch format. Each of them will allow us to send, deliver, receive and transport different types of documents with different requirements.
  • Before purchasing your envelopes, take into account their size, the material they are made of, their sealing system, whether or not they have windows and if they have a material suitable for increasing the privacy of their contents.

The Best Envelope: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about envelopes

Envelopes will be necessary at some point in our lives, regardless of our location, religion and profession. That's why we not only show you the most loved models, but also tell you more about them.

In the executive and professional environment, envelopes allow for discreet, organised and secure transactions of documents and other items. (Photo: Aleksandr Davydov / 123rf)

What is an envelope and what are its advantages?

An envelope is a paper envelope designed to hold items such as letters, money, documents, cards and the like inside. They are widely used around the world because of the formality they represent and the protection they provide for their contents.

It is surprising the number of models you will find and all the uses you can give them, but the most important thing at this moment is to know the windows we will get by having envelopes always at our disposal.

Advantages
  • Various sizes
  • Various models and designs
  • Lightweight
  • Economical
  • Various closure and security systems
  • Customisable
Disadvantages
  • Not all of them have a closure system
  • Some can be transparent against the light

Traditional or pouch-style envelopes - what should you look out for?

Although the most common envelopes we are familiar with are those that are half a letter size or smaller, and usually carry simple papers and documents, there are others, also called pouches, whose function extends much further.

Traditional. Traditional envelopes are usually larger in width than in length, so you will be able to include your letter and legal size papers without any problems when folded vertically. These are usually used to send letters, invitations, greeting cards, invoices, postcards, money and the like.

The materials commonly used in this area are bond paper, cardboard and kraft paper, depending on the model and design you want to achieve, as well as the strength you prefer to obtain. You can find versions with light adhesive or without adhesive.

Bag. These usually carry heavier and more delicate material, such as documents that include several sheets, books, CDs and other papers that do not need to be folded. These envelopes are ideal, as their length allows the inclusion of several pages without having to fold or damage them to fit inside.

They usually have strong, light or no adhesive, depending on what you want to include, its nature and weight. Although kraft paper is usually the most commonly used, you can also find combined or all-plastic paper, as well as padded versions (with bubble wrap) to protect the contents.

Buying criteria

You know about amazing envelope models and where to go to get them, but the most important thing before making your purchase is to take into account those factors that are essential to make the right choice. Here we talk about them.

  • Sizes
  • Material
  • Closure
  • Window
  • Privacy material

Sizes

Just as sheets are determined by their size thanks to their A classification (A2, A4...), in the case of envelopes, the classification is located with the letter C. Here we tell you a little about the most common sizes.

C3 envelope: This version is most commonly found in pouch format, and is the particular size of manila envelopes. It measures 32.4 cm wide by 45.8 cm high and you will be able to include several letter-size sheets in it without fear of having to fold or mishandle them. Use them to deliver resumes and important documents.

C5 envelope: This model is 22.9 cm wide by 16.2 cm long, so you can include several letter sheets by folding them vertically into a trifold. They are usually used to deliver welcome letters, letters of introduction, apologies, invoices and similar.

C6 envelope: In this case you will not be able to include a letter sheet without folding it horizontally, but it will be ideal for small cards, invitations to birthdays, weddings, graduations, thank you cards and similar. Its measurements are 11.4 cm high by 16.2 cm wide.

Envelope C7: These models measure just 8.1 cm wide by 11.4 cm long, so they can be used for small mailings, such as coins, small cards, a little folded money and the like. You can find them in pouch or traditional formats.

Material

You can find different materials when it comes to envelopes, depending on the motif or content you need to put in them. Here are the most common options that will suit every occasion.

Bond paper. These are the most fragile envelopes, as their thickness is equal to that of an ordinary sheet of paper. It is recommended to use it only when it is a small model, to prevent it from bending on the way. Use it mainly for small informal cards or a little money.

Kraft paper. These models are more resistant, always depending on the thickness of the kraft paper used. They are widely used when it comes to pouch-type envelopes, as they can carry delicate or heavier loads than sheets of paper. Use it safely in sizes C5 or smaller.

Cardboard. Envelopes made of cardboard will be strong, depending on their thickness. In addition, it also allows models with patterns or prints to be added for a much more personalised design adapted to each occasion, such as invitations to events.

Plastic. Plastic envelopes have a great advantage: they can be used more frequently and for a longer period of time, as long as they are treated with care, thanks to their resistance. They are often found in bag format for transporting documents that do not need to be folded. Use them with confidence in school or work environments.

Reseal

The magic of envelopes is not only to receive a content, but also to protect it from external agents, possible falls and unwanted openings until it reaches the right hands. Here are the most common closure options.

Self-adhesive. These models have an adhesive film on the flap, which is covered by a protective plastic tape. Once you remove the tape, you can stick it to the envelope. This option is ideal for delicate contents such as money or personal documents, and for when you need to seal many envelopes at once.

Gummed. This option contains a film of dry glue on the flap, which must be moistened to activate its adhesive nature. Use it only when you need to seal few envelopes, as its sealing mechanism can become uncomfortable or tiring after a while.

Tape and button. Envelopes with tape and button are designed to be opened and closed more than once, so they are ideal for transporting documents from one place to another and reusing them without any problems. In these cases, the ribbon is wrapped around the button until it is fixed, and the same process is used to open it.

Hook. There are models that have hooks for fastening. These are placed on one of the flaps and will go through holes in the parallel flap to allow the two to be joined together. Like the ribbon and button ones, they are ideal for transporting their contents and being reused, such as money or identity documents.

Non-sealable. Some simpler envelopes will not include a closure system, especially traditional envelopes. In this case, it will be up to the user to use them open or to use closing mechanisms. They are ideal in case you want to make humerus stamps, as a decorative or distinctive method.

Envelopes in solid pastel or white colours will allow you to personalise them in a better way, which makes them ideal for invitations and themed events. (Photo: Monique Carrati / Unsplash)

Window

After positioning the content on our envelopes, it will be important to indicate the address or name of the recipient, even if you want to make a personal delivery. In this case, you will find 2 options of envelopes: those with or without windows.

Without windows. Envelopes without windows will be more common to find. In these cases, you can write on the front (where the flap is not visible) the address, the recipient's name, a special message or any other detail you decide. Use it mainly for informal mailings.

With windows. On the front of the envelope you will find a hole covered by transparent plastic on the bottom left-hand side that will show the address and the name of the addressee. Use this option for corporate communications and formal documents.

Privacy material

We know that envelopes can carry anything from simple contents to important documents and even money. For this reason, if you want to protect the contents of an envelope from prying eyes, there are materials that will help you with this task.

Although you can choose dark, thick kraft paper, there are other models that will not allow the contents of your letter to be slightly visible when placed against the light, thanks to the coloured patterns on the inside. Choose this option when you need to add extra security to the enclosure of your envelopes.

(Featured image photo: Diana Akhmetianova / Unsplash)

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