19 types of envelope

Who’d have thought there are 19 different types of envelope? And we’re not talking about sizes, adhesives and linings.

Different shapes and construction methods have evolved over the years to suit many applications, and not always letters! Envelopes can carry three-dimensional, and sometimes heavy-duty, objects, such as nuts and bolts, and are much more sustainable than plastic bags.

As a manufacturer, Baddeley Brothers can make unusual shapes and sizes that aren’t a standard item. We have special machinery to cut, fold, perforate, attach and stick envelopes that make it a piece of marketing in itself.

Imagine being able to intrigue your prospect before they’ve even opened your letter. You can do this with the right envelope.

Then there’s material… it doesn’t have to be brown paper, or white, and it can be recycled for the environmentally-conscious, heat-resistant for the sterilisation purposes, or acid-free for archiving.

And who wants to be licking envelopes in the 2000’s? There’s peel and stick, tuck and slit, or even string and washer.

In reality, there are many more combinations than 19, but it gives us a starting point.

Envelope have feelings too!

At Baddeley Brothers, we have an endearing love of the envelope; we don’t buy them in and add them as an optional item. We think the envelopes evoke emotion, they are the start of a memory, the ice-breaker, it’s the first few words of a story, even if it’s just ‘here’s your invoice’, or the suspense of an Oscar nomination, envelopes carry a message before you open them. Their style, colour, weight and feel, carry an emotion as well as a message. It’s a document in its own right.

We are envelope makers. We manufacture the carriage of good news, everyday communications and joyous events. And in doing so, we are adding another dimension to your stationery or campaign, adding coloured paper, branded print or even personally addressed, one by one.

But did you realise just how many different styles there are? We counted 19 distinctly different variations we have made over the years.

How many of these envelope types have you seen in active service?

Diamond Flap Envelope

Diamond flap

(also available in pocket and wallet) Probably the most common consumer envelope (C5). If you unfold it, you’ve essentially got a square folded in at the corners, with the last flap left unstuck to allow you to fill it and seal it. These are the most common high-volume production and most common are C6 and DL.

Diamond High Cut Envelope

Diamond high cut

For a bit of extra security, this variation of the Diamond Flap adds an extra level of privacy by hiding the contents after opening. It retains the diamond-shaped flap that offers a slightly more attractive presentation for B2C communications.

DL Wallet Envelope – gummed

DL Wallet

Designed to take a A4 letter folded into three, the wallet is instantly recognisable as a business letter. Typically, brown or white depending on its content.

Square Envelope


It’s called square but it doesn’t have to be. The flap goes straight across the top, providing the security of the high cut, and easier to handle in volume. However, they are often used for single-purchase greetings cards and invitations, along with the diamond flap.

Window wallet

DL Wallet with window

A variation on the regular wallet, the transparent window offers the huge benefit of not having to write on the envelope, saving time and money when using large volumes – as long as you get your fold right! A custom window shape or position is a good way to draw attention.

DL Wallet pocket

Another variation on the standard business envelope. The pocket alternative uses a side entry flap. Arguably easier and quicker to fill, and possibly why they’re used largely in the finance department.

Block bottom

Moving on to something a little different, this has a sturdy inset to make it suitable for bulky items, such as nuts and bolts. The bottom folds out flat to make it idea for labelling

Board-back pocket

If you ever received or sent photos in the mail, you’ll be familiar with this, it’s a board on side, and paper on the other, stiff enough to stop the postie from bending it, one would hope!

Commercial Square Flap

Commercial square Flap

This is an envelope that you might not seal. It’s used for gifts or vouchers and has a large top flap equal in size to the bottom flap. They’re square cut so the meet in the middle and look a little luxurious for public presentation.

Broad pocket

Broad pocket

Let’s not be too ostentatious, this just a big envelope. Diamond-shaped flaps don’t work at this size, so they’ll nearly always be a wallet-style closing at the short side.

Sample Pocket

Sample pocket

Once used for seeds, these are securely closed by split fastener to allow for re-use and storage.

Gusset pocket

Gusset pocket

A variation of the ‘block bottom’ but expands on all sides often strengthened for tougher uses. When made to order, the gusset can be place wherever the strain will be most likely.

Long pocket

Long pocket

The term ‘pocket’ typically denotes the flap on the short side, so this can be used for long, narrow documents, or wider ones folded to fit.

Eagle pocket

Eagle pocket

We wonder if this is named after ‘legal eagles’, because it’s type you get from a lawyer. However, cut of the eagle provides a single unobscured back panel for adding a return address.

String and washer

Don’t you just love unwinding the string from the washer. What a piece of luxury to be handed one of these. Not for the postal system though, keep in-house or for special occasions.

Tissue-lined tuck

Tissue-lined tuck

This is basically a diamond flap because you’re showing off some luxury here. Inside, the envelope is lined with tissue paper. Only special messages go in here.

Topless thumb pocket

Topless thumb pocket

Made without a flap of any sort and a thumb cut to gain easy access for documents, record cards, CDs etc, reusable thousands of times.

Tuck and slit

Tuck and slit

No glue here, just a handy slit to tuck your flap. Another reusable envelope that closes for security but doesn’t need to be accessed often.

Tuck Flap

Tuck flap

Where throat of the envelope is cut off, unlike the more utilitarian diamond, which enables the flap to be placed inside the throat.  Often used when you wish to remove and protect the contents, perhaps when presenting an invitation to pass through security and gain entry to an event.  Of course, if you are making to order, skip the glue all together possible to choose to have peel and stick instead.