How to Write a Mailing Address on an Envelope

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It's important to write a mailing address on an envelope in the format approved by the U.S. Postal Service.
It's important to write a mailing address on an envelope in the format approved by the U.S. Postal Service. (Image: the envelope image by Kimberly Reinick from Fotolia.com)

As basic as the task is, if you're sending a letter, postcard or package by U.S. Mail, it's important to write a mailing address on an envelope--and any other piece of mail--in the format approved by the United States Postal Service. Handling just under half the world's card and letter mail, the USPS is a huge operation, processing an average of 8,000 items of mail every second. How you address that envelope you're mailing goes a long way toward streamlining this process, making sure your mail arrives at its destination in a timely manner.

Things You'll Need

  • Envelope
  • Pen

Turn the envelope so the flap is facing away from you and the fold of the flap is on top.

Write the return address--also called the "from" address--in capital letters on the upper-left corner of the envelope. Leave out all commas and periods.

Write the delivery address--also known as the "to" address--in capital letters in the lower center of the envelope, just under the halfway point (see Resources).

Print the mailing address legibly using permanent ink--not pencil--in letters large enough to be seen from an arm's length away.

Abbreviate states with the two-letter code approved by the United States Postal Service or the military address with the appropriate codes, such as APO or FPO and AA, AP or AE. Use only the approved USPS abbreviations when you write a mailing address on an envelope; otherwise, spell out the words and names (see Resources).

Use the following format for the return address and for the delivery address:

FULL NAME COMPANY NAME (when applicable) STREET ADDRESS CITY STATE ZIP+4

For example,

JANE SMITH SMITH CRAFTS PRODUCTS 9876 54TH ST SW STE 321 CITYVILLE CA 90000-0001

Make sure you've included the full delivery address, including ZIP code and, if available, the four-digit extension before you mail the envelope.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not place the return address exclusively on the back (flap side) of the envelope, such as in certain preprinted envelope stationery.

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