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How to properly address an envelope.



It would truly surprise you the number of young adults and adults that don't know how to properly address an envelope. We are of the digital age of text messages and emails, but there is still no substitute for sending a note, card or letter through snail mail.

An evite for a small gathering or party might be convenient, it wouldn't be the same to request someone's company at a wedding celebration through a digital or electronic message. The same goes for a thank you note or sympathy card. There are still reasons and seasons to send something in the mail. And it might be old fashion, to know how to address an envelope properly, it is a skill that everyone should have. This is most essential when spending formal invitations and/or professional letters. Even when addressing an envelope to family members, friends and neighbors, getting it right is key!


Before you get started ... here are some special tips:

Always use the name of the person

Do not abbreviate the city and state for a formal envelope

Be sure to include your return address

If you are sending formal invitations, holiday or Christmas cards, avoid using labels


How to address an envelope

There are two addresses that are typically seen on the envelope, but only one is required: the recipient's. The sender's address isn't necessary, but it is recommended. If there are any mistakes that prevent the delivery of the letter, the lack of a return address means the post office will be unable to send it back in order to fix any problems.


  1. Write the return address in the top left corner or on the back flap.

  2. Write the recipient's address slightly centered on the bottom half of the envelope.

  3. Place the stamp in the top right corner.


How to write the sender's (return) address

  1. Start with your full name.

  2. Write your street address on the next line. Use two lines, if needed. (featuring the apartment, suite, unit or studio number)

  3. Follow that line with the city, state and ZIP code of your address.


How to find the "ZIP+4" code

If you are unsure about someone's ZIP code, USPS has a ZIP code lookup tool on their website.

  1. Choose look up the ZIP code by address and enter all the required information.

  2. Press "Find" and USPS will give you the ZIP+4 code.


How to write an international shipping address

If sending a letter to an overseas address that is not 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 confirm before mailing.



How many stamps should you use

Postage stamps are the perfect accessory to an envelope. Postage can be tricky at times, knowing how many to use (ensuring that you meet the value requirement.) For a standard (1 ounce) letter being shipped anywhere in America, Forever stamps are recommended because you will always be able to use them regardless of future stamp price rate increases. Every ounce over, you will have to use additional ounce stamps for every ounce. Two-ounce stamps are also an option.


Post Cards senders, don't cheat yourself with the Forever stamps. Postcards have their own stamps that are a bit cheaper.

For international addresses, Global Forever stamps are used and just like the Forever stamps, you can use them whenever, regardless of price adjustments. Irregular-shaped envelopes that may be used for square wedding invitations or graduation announcements require different stamps called non-machinable stamps. Because the square envelope can't fit the machine for automatic processing, the stamp costs a little extra to account for the non-machinable surcharge.


Calligraphy by: AshleyRae Swann of Cygnus Studios @cygnusstudios


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