Ohio News Media Association

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Postal Service offers marked copy alternative

Usps Postal TruckReprinted with permission from the Oklahoma Press Association

Thanks to an understanding with the National Newspaper Association, periodicals publications mailers are able to opt into a new process for verifying the advertising content of their mail with the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal rules currently require newspapers mailers to provide the USPS with a copy of each issue marked by hand, indicating the paid advertising percentage.

Now, the Postal Service will permit publishers to enroll in an annual verification. After being accepted, the “marked copy” will no longer have to be submitted for every issue. Instead, next September post offices will randomly select one issue from the year and ask publishers to present a single marked copy of that issue. If the marked copy and the postage statement’s claimed advertising total match, the publisher will be cleared for the rest of the year. If there is a difference in the advertising amount within a 5 percent rate of understatement, further procedures will be conducted.

NNA Postal Committee Chair Max Heath said his committee had worked for this change for about two years.

“This step seemed pretty simple, but accomplishing it required a lot of changes at USPS, including some training adjustments and accommodating concerns of some non-newspaper users of Periodicals mail,” said Heath.

“We are fortunate to have willing partners in the Postal Service’s business systems department who were willing to work through the intricacies of changing this rule. Now our job is to educate our members on the value of making the change. I believe they will be glad to get rid of the burden of doing these marked copies every week.”

NNA is pleased to help its members streamline their mailing processes, said Matthew Paxton IV, NNA president and publisher of The News-Gazette in Lexington, Virginia.

“Time is money, and in today’s electronic world, many of our members were doing everything online except for this one burdensome step,” said Paxton. “Postmaster General Megan Brennan and her team wisely recognized an opportunity for all parties to avoid this unnecessary compliance procedure so we could devote our time to building our businesses. We think this new process may take a little time to become rote for our circulation people. But in the end, it makes eminent sense to sign up now and start saving some time.”



  1. Email the USPS PostalOne! Help Desk at postalone@usps.gov. Or telephone 1-800-522-9085 option 3, then 6.
  2. Attach the completed Excel form providing information about your publication. A separate form is needed for each publication. Form available at http://tinyurl.com/zedkx7j)
  3. Wait for the Help Desk to acknowledge your request by email. Verify that the information is correct and, if necessary, send a follow up email to the Help Desk with any additional changes. Your postmaster or Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) will contact you to confirm the start date for your enrollment at which time you will stop submitting marked copies with each issue or edition. It doesn’t hurt for you to follow up with your local USPS associate if you haven’t been contacted in a reasonable amount of time. Throughout the year, it is important to retain a marked copy of each published issue and edition for USPS review (September-October).
  4. Your next action will be in September-October, 2017. At that time, the postmaster or BMEU will contact you with a request to submit the selected issue(s) to the post office or BMEU.
  5. If the advertising percentage for the initial marked copy sampled is less than or equal to 5% of the amount of advertising claimed on Form 3541 no assessment is applied and you will be approved for another year.
  6. If the advertising percentage for the marked copy sampled is greater than 5% of the amount of advertising claimed on Form 3541, an assessment may be applied to the initial issue and the USPS will review an additional 4 marked copies. If any of the 4 sampled are greater than 5% of the amount of advertising claimed on Form 3541, an assessment may be applied to the additional 4 issues. A final assessment, averaging the difference of the additional 4 samples, may be applied to any un-sampled issues published throughout the year.
  7. Remember that the postage payment being examined is for your Outside County copies, and then only for the pound price postage percentage for the issues. Thus, adjustments should be relatively minor if they occur. But if your issues fail, it may signal that you and the USPS do not agree on your measurement system, and you may need to work together to be back in sync to remain in the program for the year.
  8. You will have a right to appeal if you disagree with any postage assessment.
  9. If all is well, just keep mailing. You won’t hear from the postmaster again for validation until September 2018.