Handling Outward Mail: Collection of Outgoing Mail, Entering the Mail, Folding of Letters and Preparation of Envelopes

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Almost every office sends out mail daily. Outward mail must be handled with care, speed and accuracy due to the following reasons:

  • Improper handling of outward mail creates bad impression on outsiders.

  • Delays in sending replies may result in loss of business opportunities.

  • Delay may result in additional cost, for example, a telegram may have to be sent if a letter has been delayed.

All outgoing mail passes through three stages:

Stage of Outgoing Mail Passes Through

Stage of Outgoing Mail Passes Through

Stage of Outgoing Mail Passes Through

Production involves drafting or dictation and typing (or transcription) of the draft or dictated matter. Routine letters may be signed by the junior staff on behalf of the head, but important letters are signed by the concerned officer or head. Proper control on signatures is a must; only authorised person should sign the letters. Thereafter, every letter has to be marked at the top with code or file number for future reference. This is known as referencing. Each organisation follows its own method of coding and referencing, e.g. reference number ACC/148/1998 indicates that letter No.148 relates to Accounts Department (Acc.) and it was sent in 1998.

Handling outward mail generally involves the following steps:

Step of Handling Outward Mail

Step of Handling Outward Mail

Step of Handling Outward Mail

Collection of Outgoing Mail

Generally, each department sends its correspondence to the mailing department for despatch. In certain offices a messenger from mailing section goes around at scheduled intervals to collect mail from different departments. A tray marked as ‘outgoing mail’ is kept in each department. All letters to be sent outside are placed in this tray and the messenger collects the mail from such trays. Timely collection of outgoing mail improves the efficiency of despatch section.

Entering the Mail

All letters sent outside are to be recorded. The letters which are to be delivered locally through a messenger or peon are recorded in “Messenger Book” or “Peon Book”. Outstation letters are entered in ‘Outward Mail Register’ or ‘Despatch Register’.

Folding of Letters

  • The letter (attached with enclosures) should be folded carefully and in the correct size. Creases should be straight and should not spoil the neatness of letters. They should be folded with minimum number of folds. If window envelope is used, the folding should be done in such a way that the address becomes visible through the window. Standard envelopes should be used to accommodate the letters. Before the letters are inserted in the envelopes, care should be taken for:

  • writing the number of letters on the envelope and on the letter, itself as recorded in despatch register.

  • checking the enclosures as mentioned at the left-hand bottom of the letter, and

  • fastening the enclosures by the main letter with pins, tags, clips or stapling wires.

  • It may be noted that, of late, machines are being used for folding letters and inserting them in the envelopes automatically.

Preparation of Envelopes

After folding, the letters are inserted in the right envelopes. A complete and correct address must be written. Pin codes should be given as they ensure a prompt delivery of letters. Address written on the letter and on the envelope should tally. Window envelope can be used to avoid rewriting of address on envelope. Address must be fully visible whether written by hand or typed. Addressing machines may be used whenever necessary. The envelopes should be sealed with gum, adhesive or cello tape. This work is tedious but should be done with care. The adhesive should not spread inside as it may spoil the content. Different categories of mail, like ‘Book Post’, ‘Registered Parcel’ etc. should be stamped or written as per regulations of the post office.

Sorting, Weighing and Stamping

  • The envelopes of different categories of mail are to be sorted out category wise. The outward mail generally is of two categories — Local: to be sent through messenger, and Outstation: to be sent through post office, courier, airlines. The second category may be further classified as mail to be sent by ordinary post, registered post, speed post, book post, foreign mail, under certificate of posting, parcels to send through Indian Airlines, Air India, Sea mail, etc. The sorted mail should be put in separate trays so that the task of stamping is facilitated.

  • Stamps are to be affixed on mail which is sent by post. It is necessary to weigh the different articles to be sent by post so that proper value of stamps is affixed. An up to-date copy of the ‘Post Office Guide’ should be kept with the despatch clerk responsible for affixing stamps. In large organisations franking machines are used for stamping.

  • The letters which are to be sent by messenger are entered in the Messenger or Peon Book and handed over to the messenger for delivery.


Finally, the posting and delivery of letters have to be arranged. Ordinary mail is posted at the nearest Post Box at regular intervals. Special kinds of mail like registered and insured articles etc. are separately sent to the post office. Letters to be sent by speed post are to be presented at the counter of a post office meant for it.

Handling Inter-Departmental Mail

In big organisations, all inter-departmental mails are handled almost in the same way as described above. A separate register may be maintained for inter-departmental mails. But in small organisations, these may be handled simply in mentioning peon book or messenger books.

Handling E-Mail

  • Electronic mail popularly known as E-mail is the fastest and most convenient mode of sending message, data, graphics etc. through internet. Internet is a network of computers all over the world connected through satellite. To receive and send mails through internet you need to have an e-mail address. In offices the e-mails are generally received and sent by the concerned officer. In case of senior officers this task is entrusted to their personal assistant or personal secretary.

  • While sending the e-mails, one must be very careful because it is not possible to rectify the original message once it is forwarded. Another important aspect is a hard copy of the message must be preserved in the file as a proof.

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