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  • Lauren Makowski

The Complete Beginners Guide to Beautiful Calligraphy Envelopes

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Do you struggle with creating straight lines in your envelope addressing? Are you looking for an easy way to center your writing on an envelope? Look no further! I've designed this tutorial to walk you through my process, step by step, to help make the calligraphy envelope addressing process easier for you. Please see the YouTube video below, and step by step instructions!

I’ve been working on addressing a very large envelope order for a client every night for the past 3 weeks. I did not think it was going to take me this long to complete, but with a full time job and a 1 year old, the only time I could find was at night after a full day of running around. While I love these projects, I found that trying to finish them in a reasonable amount of time was a challenge because of my other priorities and ineffective processes. I used this project as a learning experience to help me streamline my efforts in the future. Here’s what I learned:

1. High quality envelopes and ink

I cannot stress this enough. The past two orders I’ve done have been extremely challenging because of the materials I was using. This past order, the client preferred a shiny metallic envelope, which is very difficult to write on with any ink. As a calligrapher, you know that thin upstrokes and thick down strokes creates the beauty of the writing, but with the shiny envelope, it was very difficult to do. The ink would flow into the paper, creating really thick lines and inconsistencies across the envelopes. I had to re-do quite a few for them to look professional. My suggestion is to use a matte cardstock envelopes.

Now, let’s talk about ink. If you’re using a dip pen (which is what I use), I suggest trying different inks on the types of envelopes you are going to be using to make sure you find one that’s right for you. Everyone has their own personal preference on brands, and when you’re doing large jobs such as this, it’s best to offer your clients something that you’re comfortable working with. On my first envelope order, I tried the Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments, and it was not the ink for me. This needs to be mixed with gum Arabic and water to be turned into usable ink, and I could not get the consistency right. Moving forward, I will not be using that brand because trying to make it work on the envelopes I had was very challenging and time consuming.

2. Mail merge in Microsoft Word for spacing

Spacing. This is the trickiest part for me, as I’m sure it is for most of you as well. Centering your calligraphy on an envelope doesn’t come easy to most people. Using the Mail Merge in Microsoft Word made this process a bit easier for me. When receiving address lists from clients, I prefer to have them over to me in Excel. As a Type A personality, I love have things organized and Excel is perfect for this. To perform a Mail Merge in Word, follow the steps below:

  • Open Microsoft Word, and set up your page the same size as your envelope by selecting the “Layout” tab and then “Size”. I selected 5” x 7” and changed the orientation to landscape. I also edited the margins to reflect how I will be writing. I did custom margins and selected 1.5” for the top and .5” for the rest.

  • Once your document is set up exactly how you like, click on “Mailings” from the top bar.

  • Click the drop down under “Start Mail Merge” and select “Normal Word Document”.

  • Now choose the drop down for “Select Recipients” and select “Use an Existing List”. You will then need to locate your Excel file to import into Word.

  • Once you find your file, select it and click “OK”. A window will pop up in Word with the names of your spreadsheets in the Excel document. Make sure you select the correct spreadsheet with the addresses on it and click “OK”.

  • Click “Address Block” and make sure all of the fields are matching. The preview box to the right should have the address the way you like it to appear on the envelope. Make necessary changes and click “OK”.

  • Click the drop down for “Finish and Merge” and select “Edit Individual Documents” and click “OK” for all.

  • A new window will open with your addresses separated by page. I typically choose a script font that looks similar to my handwriting so I can see the spacing I need. To select all of the addresses, click CTRL and A and it will select everything so you can change the font on each individual address.

  • Lastly, make sure your ruler can be seen by clicking “View” and select the checkbox next to “Ruler”. From there, you will be able to mark your guidelines on the envelope based on the dimensions in the document. Voila! Mail merge complete!

3. Laser level for straight lines

For all of my projects, I use a laser level to create straight lines. This one from Black and Decker is inexpensive and works great! I love using this because I feel that it would take a lot more time to draw the lines on the envelope and then erase them once the ink is dry. Plus, I worry that I will smudge the ink and make marks on the envelope, which would create more work, which would not be efficient J If you don’t want to invest in a laser level, your best bet is to lightly draw the guidelines with a pencil and erase it. For me, I’d rather spend the $15 to save myself some time!

There you have it! These are the 3 things I learned in order to make my envelope orders look great and be completed in a timely fashion. What are your best tips for addressing envelopes? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

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