Data Quality Glossary

This page contains a non-exhaustive list and brief definitions of the most important technical terms used in the Data Quality Industry.


These initials stand for Area Distribution Center or Automated Area Distribution Center. These are postal facilities the USPS uses to accept mail destined for a set of ZIP codes the center services. Mail sent to ADC/AACD facilities is sorted and shipped to post offices serving individual ZIP codes.

Address Block

An address block defines the space on a mailpiece where the recipient’s name and address will be imaged. The address block may include the postal barcode and/or a keyline. Some mailers include a small 2D barcode that shows through the window of an outbound envelope. The barcode is used to for tracking and quality control.


These acronyms stand for Army Post Office or Military Post Office for mail sent to military service members. Domestic military bases are APOs and foreign bases are MPOs.

Automation Compatible Mail

Automation compatible mail meets USPS requirements for processing on their automated equipment. Material specifications for automation compatible mail include mailpiece dimensions, address orientation, thickness, shape, and flexibility.

Aspect Ratio

The USPS requires the ratio of length to height to be between 1.3 and 2.5. The aspect ratio is computed by dividing the length by the height. The length of a mailpiece is the edge parallel to the address.

Barcode Clear Zone

The USPS designates a rectangular area in the lower right portion of a letter-sized mailpiece. Mailers must not print anything in this area except the postal barcode.


These abbreviations stand for Business Reply Card or Business Reply Envelope. Postage for these return pieces is paid via the mailer’s Business Reply permit account. Mailers only pay postage on BRCs or BREs actually returned.


Bulk Mail Entry Unit. These USPS facilities accept discounted First Class and Marketing Mail. Mailers typically take their mail to a BMEU to enter the mail into the USPS mailstream.


Bound Printed Matter. This USPS designation typically applies to books, catalogs, or directories weighing at least one pound. Certain restrictions apply to this mailing class.

Bulk Mail

This is an obsolete term but is still sometimes used to describe presorted First Class or Marketing Mail.

Carrier Route Presort Mail (CR/CRRT)

Mail the mailer has sorted by carrier route is referred to as carrier route presort. This mail provides mailers the greatest postage discounts as it bypasses primary and secondary sortation by the USPS. Some mailers even sort mail into the walking sequence of the postal carrier as he/she delivers the mail, in return for additional postage discounts.


CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. CASS improves delivery accuracy by matching mailing list entries to USPS-defined address ranges on a street. The USPS verifies that postal matching software meets the CASS standard. Any mailer claiming discounted automation postage rates must process their addresses through CASS-certified address matching software.

Co-op mailing

Co-op mailings include two or more offers, usually from different companies, in the same envelope. The marketers share the costs.

Courtesy Reply Mail/CRM/CRE

Courtesy reply envelopes are often included in bills and invoices. They feature a pre-printed address, or a window designed to allow the delivery address printed on the remittance stub to show through. Unlike Business Reply, customers mailing checks or materials back to the biller must pay the postage for CREs.

Data Quality

Data Qualityis the measure of the suitability of a data set for its intended business role. In a business context, data quality is specifically measured for data quality characteristics including accuracy, completeness, and consistency.

Deliverability Rate

The deliverability rate refers to the proportion of names on a mailing list with valid, deliverable mailing addresses.

Domestic Mail Manual/DMM

The DMM contains all US Postal Service mailing standards, rules, and regulations. This large, cross-referenced volume is periodically updated and is only available online.

Delivery Point Validation/DPV

DPV is necessary to confirm that addresses in a mailing list are actually deliverable. CASS processing or assigning a ZIP+4 code only verifies an address falls within a defined range of house numbers for a particular street. DPV is the process that determines whether an address exists and accepts mail.

Delivery Sequence File/DSF

The DSF is a tool used to standardize mailing addresses and contains every valid postal address in the USA.

Destination Entry Discount

The USPS offers destination entry discounts to mailers who transport mail to USPS facilities close to the final destination. This technique is sometimes referred to as drop-shipping.

DPV No-Stats

The USPS designates an address as “No Stats” when the address is a vacant property, it receives mail as part of a drop, or it doesn’t have an established delivery yet.

Every Door Direct Mail/EDDM

EDDM is a USPS program allowing marketers to blanket a geographic area with non-personalized mailpieces. The mail does not contain individual addresses. Postal carriers simply deliver identical pieces to every residential address on their routes.

First-Class Mail/FCM

First Class Mail provides mailers with services such as automatic mail forwarding at no additional charge. Unlike the less expensive Marketing Mail class, the USPS publishes delivery standards for First Class Mail, allowing mailers to better predict in-home dates for their communications.

Facing Identification Mark

Facing identification marks, or FIM’s, are a set of five vertical lines found at the top center of reply cards and envelopes. The USPS uses FIMs to orient the mail before scanning the addresses. The presence of a FIM is required for Business Reply mail.


Flats are large mailpieces, taller than 6 1/8”, longer than 11 ½” or thicker than ¼”. The USPS publishes several guidelines concerning the design and construction of flats to make sure they process through their automated equipment properly. Flats cost more to mail than letters or postcards.

Intelligent Mail barcode/IMb

The IMb is a series of vertical bars that appear in the address block or in the lower right portion of a mailpiece. These codes allow the USPS sorting equipment to route the mail to its destination. They also carry important information to identify the mail owner, mail preparer, mailing class, and ancillary services. Each IMb includes a serial number that identifies a unique mailpiece, allowing the USPS to track each mailpiece as it travels throughout the delivery network.


Indicia is the box that appears in the top right corner of a mailpiece. Indicia’s show the USPS the class of mail and tells them the postage has been prepaid via a permit. The advantage of permit mail is that postage is paid only when a mailing is deposited, unlike stamps or meter impressions which require a pre-mailing investment in postage.

Keyline/Match Key

A keyline is a combination of numbers and letters, usually printed directly above the mail recipient’s name on a mailpiece. Information in the keyline helps identify the mail recipient and provides information used for mail tracking and quality control during the print and mail production process.

In-Home Date

Marketers use the in-home date as a target for the ideal time for the mail to be delivered to the recipients. For direct mail advertising, in-home dates are frequently expressed as a range.


This class of mail refers to mailpieces between 3 1/2″ and 6 1/8″ tall, 5″ and 11 1/2″ long, and between .007″ and 1/8″ thick.

Mail Drop

Mail drops are portions of a mailing that mailers enter ento the mailstream at different times. In some cases, the distribution is spread over time to better manage expected responses. In other cases, mail drops can be used to contact the same set of contacts multiple times.

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists come in several varieties. A “House List” is usually the best performing mailing list because the people on the list are current customers, former customers, or prospects who have previously shown an interest in a product or service

“Response Lists” are lists of people who share an attribute with your target audience. They might subscribe to certain magazines, belong to professional organizations, or be former students of a certain university. Acquiring these types of lists yields better than average results.

“Compiled Lists” contain contacts chosen by general criteria such as estimated income levels, age, sex, or geographic location. These lists will not be as productive as others. However, marketers may augment or enhance the data on compiled lists to improve segmentation and targeting.

Marketing Mail

Marketing Mail is a mailing class formerly known as Standard Mail, or Third-Class Mail. Marketing Maili s most popular with high volume direct mail advertising because of low postage rates. However, the USPS publishes no delivery standards for Marketing Mail. Predicting in-home dates becomes more difficult for marketers.


The North American Industry Classification System is a classification of business establishments by type of business activity. It is widely used by government and business in the US and Canada.

Typically, a code represents a business establishment at a single physical location. Each business establishment is grouped into an industry category depending on the primary business activity performed there. It is important to note that a company can be composed of multiple NAICS business establishments at various locations.

National Change of Address/NCOA

The NCOA database (pronounced nō’-ca) includes information on every person, family, or business that has filed a change-of-address notice with the US Postal Service. The USPS requires mailers seeking postage discounts to use an approved move update method to correct mailing addresses before they present the mail. NCOA processing is the most common method mailers choose to satisfy the move update requirement. The NCOA database changes constantly as individuals, families, and businesses submit new change of address notices and older change orders expire.


A nixie is an undelivered mailpiece which has been returned to the sender.


Non-machineable mail cannot be sorted on mail processing equipment because of size, shape, content, or address legibility. Such mail must be processed manually and is subject to a surcharge.

Non-Profit Class

The USPS allows non-profit organizations to send mail at reduced rates. Organizations must apply and be granted a permit. Non-Profit mail service is similar to Marketing Mail.


Palletization refers to sacks and trays of mail arranged on pallets. Palletized mail can often be delivered faster because of less handling. The USPS publishes rules about how to palletize mail, label the pallets, and document the mailings.

Postal pre-sort

Mailers sorting outgoing mail in a USPS-approved way to take advantage of postal discounts.

Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation/PAVE

PAVE is the USPS process to assess the address handling quality of postal software. Vendors of such software will often advertise their product is CASS/PAVE certified.


Presorting is the process a mail owner or mail preparer uses to arrange the sequence of the mail thereby reducing the USPS labor required to route and deliver it. Presorting can be done before printing, by arranging the data in the proper order, or after printing using large mail sorting machines. Presorting mail involves several steps, including calculating mailing tray capacity, printing and affixing tray labels, and preparing electronic mail submission reports.


RTS is sometimes handwritten or rubber-stamped on a mailpiece by a mail carrier, usually on First Class Mail. Carriers sometimes include a reason for returning the piece such as NFA (No Forwarding Address), NSA (No Such Number), NMR (No Mail Receptacle), Refused, or Deceased.

Response Device

Response devices are items a mail recipient returns to the marketer, such as an order form or donation form.

Saturation Mailing

A saturation mailing is a mailing to 90 percent of the residential addresses, or 75 percent of the combined residential and business addresses, within a specified geographic area or carrier route.

Sectional Center Facility/SCF

An SCF is a major mail entry and handling point in the USPS delivery network designated by the first 3 digits in the ZIP codes. SCF’s oversee distribution of mail to several ZIP codes. The USPS may at times reorganize the delivery network according to demand and efficiencies.


A self-mailer is a direct mail piece without an envelope. Folded brochures or flyers are examples of self-mailers. Several design requirements pertain to self-mailers including how they are folded, and the methods used to seal them, such as glue lines, glue dots, and wafer tabs.

Simplified Address

Examples of simplified addresses include “Postal Customer”, “Postal Patron”, “Current Resident”, “Current Boxholder”, etc. This form of addressing is used for saturation mailing purposes and won’t contain any actual addressee names.


A stuffer is a marketing or informational piece included in an envelope containing a bill or statement. Though these kinds of materials may be selectively inserted into envelopes according to certain criteria.

Third Class

Third Class is an obsolete term. The US Postal Service renamed Third Class as Standard Mail, and then renamed it again as Marketing Mail.

Title Addressing

Title addressing uses a title, job function, or description rather than a specific person’s name on a mailing label. Examples would be “Sales Manager”, “HR Director” or “Software Buyer.”

Workshare Discount

Mailers earn workshare postage discounts from the USPs when they lessen the Postal Service’s workload by sorting, bundling, or transporting mail closer to the delivery destination.

Zone Improvement Plan Code/ZIP Code

ZIP codes have been the primary way the USPS uses to sort and deliver mail since 1963. A five-digit ZIP Code generally identifies a postal delivery unit. The numbers are arranged incrementally from the East coast of the United States to the West. ZIP Codes change frequently as the USPS reacts to population shifts and new development. Using postal software to prepare a mailing list ensures the list matches the current ZIP Code scheme.


This term refers to the first 3 or 5 numbers in a ZIP code. Mailers often divide their mailings according to 3-digit presort and 5-digit presort, depending on how many pieces are addressed for a given area. Mailers pay less postage on items qualifying at the 5-digit level than the 3-digit level.


ZIP+4is an extension to the traditional 5-digit ZIP Code that identifies addresses more accurately geographically. ZIP+4 codes can identify the side of a street or the floor of a building.Read more about zip plus 4.