Have you ever been stumped by how to address an envelope? Over the years the post office has made changes to their preferences, so it’s always a good thing to brush up on your mailing address knowledge to make sure your cards and letters are properly delivered.
Need more details? Read these tips for properly-addressed envelopes worthy of Emily Post’s stamp of approval, courtesy of our letter-loving etiquette experts.
- Step 1: Use the full, proper name of your recipient.
- Step 2 (optional): If the person you’re sending to is somewhere other than their home address, you might want to add a “care of” line below the name.
- For example, if you’re sending mail to a friend’s company address to brighten their day at work, write the “c/o” before the name of the company.
- If they’re visiting family, you put the name of the person they are staying with on this line.
- Step 3: Add the street address or post office box number. Don’t forget directional notes like “West”or “North”, or apartment numbers. If you can’t fit the street address and apartment number on one line, write the apartment number on the line below the street address. You can also use abbreviations to save space. Use Ave for Avenue, Blvd for Boulevard, etc. Check out our handy list of abbreviations below*.
- Step 4: Write the city, state, and ZIP code. Use two letters for the state. According to the U.S. Postal Service, do not include commas, periods or other punctuation. This helps your mail speed through processing equipment. (And if you really want to be best buds with the post office, use all capital letters.)
- Step 5: Mailing from outside the country? Add “United States of America” on the last line beneath the city, state, and zip code.
Don’t forget the return address!
Your return address should go in the upper left corner of the envelope, though many people also like to put it on the back of the envelope. Write it in the same format as the recipients address. (Or you could use fancy printed labels.)
Did you know?
If you use the zip code + 4, which are the four extra digits after the 5 digit zip code, chances are good that your mail will be sorted more precisely and possibly arrive a bit sooner. Look up your zip + 4 code here.
*Here’s a helpful list of abbreviations commonly used in addressing: