Despite the prevalence of instant messaging and electronic mail in today’s society, letter writing is still relevant. a
If you want to invite someone to your wedding, sending them an electronic message isn’t the same as writing them a letter.
The same goes for a card of thanks or condolences.
Even though it’s a quaint practice, learning how to address an envelope correctly is essential for any professional who needs to send out invitations or letters.
It is important to get the details straight even when sending mail to close friends and relatives.
“Addressing an envelope properly requires some thought,” Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert from the Protocol School of Texas, tells TODAY.com.
Gottsman insists that he always addresses people by their full names, including honorifics. In addition to including your return address, “do not shorten the city and state for a formal envelope.”
And Gottsman advises against using labels on formal invitations, holiday cards, or Christmas cards.
Need some more advice? Please scroll down for a guide to correct postal protocol.
Envelope addressing conventions
- Top left corner is where you should write your return address.
- Below the flap, somewhat in the center, write the recipient’s address.
- Put the stamp in the upper right hand corner.
Although two addresses are often printed on an envelope, only the address of the intended recipient is essential. It is not required to include the sender’s address, but it is appreciated. Without a return address, the post office can’t resend the mail to the sender if there are any difficulties with the address before it is delivered.
How to write the sender’s (return) address
- Start with your full name.
- Write your street address on the next line. Use two lines, if needed.
- Follow that line with the city, state and ZIP code of your address.
How to write the recipient’s address
- Use the same format as the sender’s address for informal letters.
- The name of the firm being addressed should appear on the first line of a business letter.
- Add the person’s name after “ATTN:” or “c/o” on the next line. If you are not addressing the 4 letter to a specific person or company, start with the recipient’s name.
- In lines three and four, please include your full street address, including city, state, and ZIP code.
How to format military addresses (APO, FPO, DPO)
Even though they follow the same format as regular addresses, military addresses don’t use the city and state names that many are used to.
- The city name will be either APO (Air/Army Post Office), FPO (Fleet Post Office) or DPO (Diplomatic Post Office).
- For the state, AA (Armed Forces America), AE (Armed Forces Europe) and AP (Armed Forces Pacific) are used, depending on the duty station.
- The ZIP code is the same, but sometimes the extra four number code is required for delivery.
How to write an international shipping address
If sending a letter to an overseas address that isn’t military, the address format typically stays the same — just with the addition of the country name as the last line.
Some countries place the ZIP code in front of the city and country but it varies from country to country, so just check to be sure.
How many stamps should you use
Stamp placement is simple, but knowing which stamps to use and how many can be challenging.
Forever stamps are the best option for mailing a regular 1-ounce letter within the United States, as their value will never decrease despite increases in postage.
You’ll need to use Additional Ounce stamps for every ounce over one, which costs 15 cents. You can also choose two-ounce stamps.
Don’t shortchange yourself by using Forever stamps on your postcards. Postcards have their own, more cost-effective stamps.
Global Forever stamps, like Forever stamps, can be used whenever you wish, regardless of price increases or decreases, and are specifically designed for mailings to foreign addresses.
Non-machinable stamps are needed for irregularly shaped envelopes, such as those used for square wedding invites or graduation announcements. A little more is added to the price of the stamp to account for the fact that the square envelope cannot be processed automatically by the machine.
You can confidently mail your letter if you use the right postage, write the correct address on the envelope, and put the stamp where it belongs.