|Discussions of dBase, ASCII, tab delimited, comma delimited, and other sorts of data files can be confusing. Most of us use these types of file formats every day without realizing it.
You have likely used or at least heard of Microsoft Excel. Open the program and the first thing you see is a lot of rectangles in rows and columns. As you enter bits of information such as a name in the first rectangle or "cell," and an address in the next cell and a city in the next, a string of data is beginning to form. If you drop to the first cell of the next row, and put a name right under the name in the first row, an address under the first address, and so forth, you are creating a "database."
You can export the information-database you just created in a variety of formats. Likewise, many of the programs you currently use to store addresses can be converted or exported in a variety of ways. Some of the programs we work with include: MS Excel, MS Access, dBase, FileMaker Pro, Fox Pro, Super base, ASCII comma delimited, ASCII tab delimited, and fixed length files. To see if your program is compatible or convertible, e-mail your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mainframe databases contain vast amounts of information and reside on an agency´s "super computer." The people who run the mainframe computers know how to pull the label information you need in a "data string." Generally, it is an ASCII delimited file of some type. We then import or load the file right into our program. We do not expect you to know what your files are or worry about converting them to a usable format. Just remember, the only two programs we do not work with are WordPerfect and MS Word label files.
WordPerfect and MS Word label files
Long ago, with the advent of desktop publishing, data stored on mainframes became available to desktop programs that created nifty labels that could be printed using a 9-pin or 24-pin printers. As peel-off labels became popular, WordPerfect, Word and Word for Windows became popular ways of creating and maintaining labels as they were WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). While it is reasonably easy to convert data to text, converting text labels back to database files is difficult, if not impossible. For that reason, we cannot use address label files created in WordPerfect or Word for Windows unless you supply the mail merge file that corresponds with the labels. If all you have is a “word processing” format, please contact us prior to the mailing to see if we can convert it. If conversion is possible, the converted file will be sent to you for review prior to the mailing.
Standard address formats
Address Format for Automation
|(OPTIONAL) Non-Address Data
Name of Recipient
Post Office, State, ZIP
HARRY FELDMAN PRES
FELDMAN INSURANCE AGENCY
236 SUNSET AVE RM 101
LOS ANGELES CA 90012-0001
Dual address format
You may use both a post office box number and a street address when addressing mail. However, mail will be delivered to the address line immediately above the city, state and ZIP code line. For example:
|Mail will be delivered here
|GRAND PRODUCTS INC
100 MAJOR ST.
PO BOX 200
PORTLAND OR 97214-1100
|.... or here
|GRAND PRODUCTS INC
P O BOX 200
200 MAJOR ST
PORTLAND OR 97214-1000
Number of characters in each field
|ZIP (or ZIP+4)
If your database file fields contain more characters than this, please note this in the special instructions of your work order. In addition to the standard fields listed, we can accommodate two additional fields. These fields can be printed above the address line.
It is imperative you indicate the additional fields that are to be included when we address the mail piece. If not, all fields not pertaining to the address or recipient will be removed.
When Publishing and Distribution receives your address file, it is checked and verified for the required addressing information. The file is converted to a CSV format and imported into our postal software. In the postal software, the address is standardized, ZIP+4 is added and presorted. Additional file services include:
NCOA compares your mailing list to more than 160 million address changes. When a postal customer files a permanent change of address with their local post office, the move is added to NCOA. Change of address information is kept on NCOA for 48 months. When name and address information on your mailing list matches name and "old" address information on NCOA, you will receive the new address for your customer.
For additional information, see How NCOA Works
Duplicate check and elimination
Your address file will be checked for duplicates and matches eliminated prior to mailing. Duplicates need to be an exact match for name and address information. You can request an optional duplication report that will show you all the addresses that were eliminated.
Address error reporting
When processing your list through our postal software, a report can be generated indicating error codes from addresses that do not meet postal standards. This information can be filtered and sent to you in a variety of formats. Using this information you may fix your address database. Addresses that contain errors cannot be sent out at the discounted rate or may not be deliverable at all. Address problems can range from a street number missing, street name misspelled, directional incorrect (NE, SW) to no street found.
You need to indicate if you want any or all of these services
on your digital print order or print order.
Common database problems:
Feel free to send a sample file of your mailing label; we will test it free of charge. Please enclose a brief description of the file such as program used and the basic layout. We will be glad to get you online so you will be ready to do your mailings with Print-to-Post. For questions concerning database issues, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Punctuation in the fields -- please eliminate all punctuation in data fields. Punctuation, especially commas, can be interpreted as a delimiter in the data causing the fields to be misaligned.
Data fields contain too many characters -- see the table above for the maximum number of characters.
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