- 3 x 5 cards and papers: It's recommended you use unlined, plain white cards and papers unless the sponsor specifically asks for lined cards.
- Postcards and odd-sized plain papers: Sometimes a postcard entry is required. There are certain specifications to follow for a card to fit within USPS guidelines for postcard postage. It must be a rectangle measuring at least 3-1/2 inches x 5 inches x 0.007 inches thick and no more than 4-1/4 inches x 6 inches x 0.016 inches thick. You can use commercial postcards or make your own but do your best to stay within these guidelines. They may seem nit-picky but you don't want to have your entry sent back to you for insufficient postage. Also, instead of postcards, some sponsors may ask for postcard size or odd-sized papers mailed in an envelope. The paper you use in your computer printer is fine for this or other plain white paper.
- Envelopes: The best ones to stock up on to begin with are #10, plain white envelopes.
- Paper trimmer: Scissors are good enough to start with but a paper trimmer makes quick and easy work of cutting your own papers. Luckily, you don't need a professional expensive cutter. You can usually find one under $20 online and in stores for sweepstakes purposes.
- Postage: For occasional entries, this may not be a big consideration at the moment. But once you get serious about this hobby, you'll probably want to set aside a monthly postage budget of letter and postcard stamps.
There are theories about creatively dressing up your entry cards, papers and envelopes to get the attention of the judges. But don't worry about that now. Getting these basics together is the best place to begin and sponsors certainly can't disqualify you for using them.
Business Mail 101. USPS website, 2012. http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/mailcharacteristics/cards.htm