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What is a Periodical Alternative Auto Flat?

The Presort product can process many different mail piece types.  A mailer defines the type of mail piece they intend to presort in the Presort “Version” or “Version Defaults” blocks of the job file.  These also show up in the left-hand tree of blocks when Views has a Presort job open. 

Various mail piece types are defined as different “Processing Categories” in Presort.  Pieces are assigned different Processing Categories based upon the piece shape and weight. 

Here is an example of the Presort Version block from the job file.

And here are the selections for the Processing Category setting.

The “PER ALTERNATIVE AUTO FLAT” category can be confusing.  The “PER” means that it is only a valid selection for a Periodical mailing.  The “ALTERNATIVE AUTO FLAT” portion tells us that this category is an alternative to the standard Automated Flat processing category.  A few years ago, pieces that fell into this category were identified in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) as UFSM 1000 pieces, or pieces that could be run through the USPS’s UFSM 1000 sorting machines at their facilities.  If you’re dying to know what one of these machines does, here’s a short video:

But today, the UFSM 1000 language has been removed from the DMM.  Instead, the pieces that qualify as PER ALTERNATIVE AUTO FLATS are described in section 707.26 “Physical Criteria for Nonmachinable Flat-Size Periodicals”.  Here is a link to the online DMM:

The 707.26 section of the DMM tells about all the physical regulations regarding a piece in this category and has links for how the pieces are presorted and the postal discounts that may apply for properly preparing a mailing of this type of piece.  Hope this helps!

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