March/April 2011 issue


March/April 2011


The LoDown 


News and Information  

from the team at Lorton Data

Did You Know?

Finding Your Missing Zeros in Excel


When opening or importing delimited files in Excel, you may notice that the leading zeros in data fields such as Zip, Zip+4, Line of Travel, or barcode are missing. This can happen with any field in the file starting with one or more zeros.  For example, important data like unique customer numbers could also look odd.  While Excel offers a simple way to format ZIP Codes, other fields can be a bit trickier.


ZIP Codes for the northeast United States, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other locations often start with a zero.  To properly format ZIP Codes, Excel offers two straight-forward options under the number category of Special.  


  1. For a simple 5-digit ZIP Codes choose Zip Code, which is in the format of "00000". 
  2. For a 10-digit ZIP Codes, choose Zip Code + 4, which is in the format of "00000-0000". 

What happens if your file has separate 5 digit ZIP Code and ZIP+4 fields?  How do you get that leading zero back on the ZIP+4?  Or what about a barcode field that may be 11-digits long (as in "00125999901")?  The answer is hiding the number formatting category of Custom.  


To fix these records:


  1. Select the cells, rows, or columns that are missing those leading zeros. 
  2. Right-click and choose Format Cells
  3. On the Number tab, select Custom at the bottom. 
  4. In the text box under the word "Type", enter in a string of zeros for each digit you want the field to have.  For example, if you are formatting a ZIP+4 field, enter '0000'.  If you are formatting that 11-digit barcode field, enter '00000000000'. 
  5. Click OK, and your cells, rows, or columns will have those leading zeros you've been missing. 

It's important to note that formatting cells that already have the correct number of digits has no effect.  In other words, it is safe to format the entire barcode field, even if only some of the records are missing that leading zero.


Special Interest

Choose the direct mail and phone calls you want to receive


We should all have choices relating to how issues of privacy affect our lives.  Unfortunately, in the Direct Marketing Industry by the time we hear from an unhappy mail or telephone call recipient they are already disgruntled and they are really ready to yell at somebody!


You do have choices on what mail you receive.  If you want to control what you receive in your mailbox, go to  Log in and make your choices.  You can choose specific magazines that you would like to receive, or you can stop all magazine offers.  Same is true for catalogs.  Use the tab for 'other mail offers' to stop all other mail offers or, again, you can select specific companies from which you wouldn't mind receiving offers.  To manage credit offers, you will be directed to a free website published by the major credit bureaus.  Even if you register with these sites, you will still receive mail from companies with whom you do business and those with whom you have signed up to receive offers.


Telemarketers always call during the dinner hour you say??  You have a choice to stop most of these calls by going to  You can also register your cell phone number at this site which would not only stop unwanted calls, but would cover unsolicited text messages as well. Again, even if you register, you will still receive calls from companies with whom you do business, along with non-profit organizations, political affiliates and those conducting surveys. 


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Upcoming Events

On Demand

March 22-24, 2011

Washington, DC  


National Postal Forum (NPF) 

May 1-4, 2011

San Diego, CA

Booth #627 



Public Media Direct Marketing Conference (PMDMC)


July 14-16, 2011

Pittsburgh, PA

Booth #24 


National Association of College and University Mailing Services (NACUMS)

July 17-18, 2011

Nashville, TN



Graph Expo 2011


September 11-14, 2011

Chicago, IL

Booth #4618



MAILCOM Fall 2011


September 25-27, 2011

Las Vegas, NV 



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Processing Tips

Top 3 reasons to use an Online Processing Acknowledgement Form


A Processing Acknowledgment Form (PAF) must be completed when a mailer requests NCOALink® processing, a product of the United States Post Office® and a means to meet the Move Update standard.  The USPS® requires a PAF on file so that they comply with federal privacy regulations. 


For years the only way to submit a PAF to a service provider was to manually complete the paper form and then send it via mail or fax. More recently, online forms such as Lorton Data's ezPAF, have become available.


Like most forms, an electronic version has many benefits for both the person filling out the form as well as for the service provider.


Here are the top 3 reasons to use our online PAF:

  1. No handling of paper, saving you time and money
  2. Information entered is more legible - reducing errors 
  3. PAF approval in minutes


Products and Services

Monthly subscriptions will be available for A-Qua Mailer, our cloud-based suite of direct mail services, starting April 1. These new subscriptions will provide unlimited use of services such as CASS Certified ZIP + 4® coding, NCOALink® processing, PAVE Certified Presort, duplicate elimination, and more for both commercial and end users.


Monthly subscriptions offer distinct advantages over typical annual fees associated with on-premise mailing software packages. Mailers have an initial lower cost of entry, and budgeting is easier. Monthly subscriptions also enable a mailer to decide whether the services suit their needs 12 times per year, rather than locking them in to annual commitments.


A-Qua Mailer Unlimited Monthly Subscription options include End User Unlimited Processing at $199 per month and Commercial User Unlimited Processing at $398 per month. Discounts are available for 12 month prepayments. Pay-per-Job and Unit subscription pricing options are also available for those customers who only periodically need services. There are no minimum usage requirements.


For more information on our monthly subscriptions, please call 651.203.8290