Knowing how to address an envelope is a vital skill. While sending an email is generally acceptable, there are times when you’ll want to employ a more traditional form of communication. No matter what you’re mailing—an invitation, a letter, a thank-you note, business correspondence, or a holiday card—you’ll need to put some essential information on the envelope to ensure it gets there quickly.
Putting the sender’s and intended recipient’s names and addresses in the appropriate places when addressing an envelope is crucial. Here’s a guide on how to write the address properly
How to Address an Envelope: The Basics
Whether sending a thank-you letter or note, you can typically rely on the general suggested guidelines for addressing your envelope. To address an envelope, follow these easy steps:
Your Name and Address
Write your name and address in the top left corner. Your full name appears on the top line, followed by your mail address or PO box number on the second line, then your city, state, and area code on the third line. The name of the state may be printed in full or condensed.
The Address and Name of the Recipient
The name and address of the receiver are written in the middle of the envelope. The recipient’s complete name appears on the first line, followed by their street address on the second, and their city, state, and area code on the third. The name of the state can also be written in full or condensed.
The stamp is placed on the upper right corner of an envelope for a typical 1-ounce letter or card. Ask the post office what kind and how many stamps you need to use on your correspondence if you have irregularly shaped, heavy, or international mail.
There are a few different ways to address a parcel to a couple, but it’s appropriate to use just their first and last names ( or first names in alphabetical order and then the last name if they use the same surname).
You can email a piece of mail, like an invitation, to the entire family residing in a single home using a shared surname, like The Smith Family. As a courtesy, if anyone living in the home older than 18 is receiving an invitation, they should receive a separate one.
Addressing a Business Letter
Always maintain standard procedures when mailing a business letter to a company representative. Follow the fundamental recommendations above, and include a few extra details.
- Write your address and name in the top left corner of the envelope. Place the recipient’s details in the center.
- Include the recipient’s position after their full name, if possible, on the same line, for example, “Director of Marketing.” Put the title directly on the line after the name if it doesn’t fit on the same line.
- Add the company’s complete name after the individual’s name and title.
- The line below the company name should include the business’s mailing address.
- Place the town, state, and area code of the business on the line beneath the street address, and the stamp should be placed at the top right corner of the envelope.
Addressing Mail to PO Boxes
When paying a bill or submitting your taxes on paper, you might need to address the envelope to a PO box. Companies issue paper invoices with their post office box address written on the section that must be removed and returned to the company along with your payment.
If you don’t see the return envelope frequently, you can transfer the address onto your envelope. The standard guidelines for addressing a mail to a PO box are as follows:
- In the top left corner of the envelope, write your name and address.
- Fill in the first address line in the middle of the envelope with the recipient’s title (if available) and full name. A name for a PO box is not always readily available.
- Place the company name immediately after the recipient’s name.
- If a department is available, mention it after the company name.
- Next, enter the PO box number, which should have several digits. Because the United States Postal Service (USPS) dislikes scanning excessive markings, leave out all punctuation.
- It is uncommon for a PO box address to include a street address, so the city, state, and zip code should be on the final line.
- The top right corner of the envelope should have the stamp.
Addressing Mail to Overseas Military Installations
Use the same basic advice provided above when sending a letter to a service member stationed abroad with the following modifications to the recipient’s name and address:
- Fill out the first line with the recipient’s full name and rank.
- The second line should contain the squadron or unit number.
- The third line consists of three parts:
- The person’s station is indicated in the first part by their designation, such as APO (Army Post Office), DPO (Diplomatic Post Office), or FPO (Fleet Post Office), depending on where they are stationed.
- The second information on the third line contains the name or abbreviation of the nation where the duty station is located in capital letters, such as AE (Armed Forces Europe), AA (Armed Forces America), or AP (Armed Forces Pacific).
- The complete postal zip code, which might or might not have four other numbers, is also included in the third part of the third line.
Mailing to Other Countries
For Europe or other international addresses, the general guidelines are similar:
- Your name, address, and the word “USA” should be written on the top left corner of the envelope. On international mail, a complete name and return address must be included.
- The first line of the envelope should contain the recipient’s name and position.
- Include the recipient’s mailing address on the second line.
- The City, province, and state of the recipient, along with the postal code, should be added to the third line. (Some nations, like Spain, demand that the postal code come first.)
- The final line includes the recipient’s country name in all caps and in English.