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March 20, 2007


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I ran across this by chance via Google. I'm British, and it was interesting to see the differences from our system. For example, in the UK you'd write:

John Smith
Flat 2A
Big House
Long Road

In other words, a separate line for each part of the address: you would never, ever put the postcode on the same line as the town/city name.

The other difference, which catches out my North American friends, is that in the UK return addresses go on the *back* of the envelope - front top left is considered incorrect here!


Logan, this is valuable information. Thanks for providing it!



How about the FROM address?
Is it mandatory to put the FROM address while mailing through USPS?

Also, there is a difference between where the from addresses are written on the envelope in Asian countries and in the US. In Asia, generally the from address is written on the right bottom corner, and in the U.S. its written on the left top corner.


Great article, Lynn.

Yes, every continent has it's own writing style. No, you do not need to add a return address when sending a piece of mail. However, don't expect the mail to return to you if it's undeliverable!


Yes, a return address is essential if you want a piece returned to you!

In the US., the return address belongs in the upper-left corner of the front of the envelope. The parts of the return address should appear in the same order as the mailing address.

Now, go write someone a nice letter!


Suzanne Kohler

I've been doing similar research, but I'm trying to write software to fix a customer address database that previously existed in a horrible state. The list was thirty years in the making and several software transitions (importing and exporting into the wrong fields) haven't helped matters. What I am lacking is style guidelines on company names (capitalization, abbreviations, punctuation). Others here want to strip punctuation from company name fields (as Pub. 28 recommends for ADDRESS fields), but I don't like the way the result looks. It FEELS wrong, but I have no reference to back up my case. For example, "Lutron Co., Inc." looks stark as "Lutron Co Inc". Next, do you abbreviate "Company" as "Co.", but spell out "Corporation"? What about "Assoc", "Eng'g", "Ltd.", "LLC", "Bros.", "Ind'l", "Ind.", "P.C.", etc.? I'm (just) the IT person, meaning that I write the software that changes every one of the 10,000 records very quickly. From my point of view, I realize that taking punctuation out is easy; putting it back is nearly impossible. I am resisting making a change that someone will regret later. Can you offer some assistance or point me in a direction?


Please tell me the proper way to address an envelope when sending an item in care of someone else? Example: Sending a letter to Jimmy Johnson at ABC Telemarketing Group, 222 Get Rich Ave., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.


If Jimmy Johnson works at ABC Telemarketing Group, there is no need to use "in care of." Just use his name on the first line. However, if he does not work there, it would be safest to send the letter to an individual at the firm who knows him, like this:

Mr. Jimmy Johnson
c/o Dr. Ruben Rose
ABC Telemarketing Group

As you can see, Mr. Johnson's name still belongs on the first line.


If Jimmy Johnson works at ABC Telemarketing Group, there is no need to use "in care of." Just use his name on the first line. However, if he does not work there, it would be safest to send the letter to an individual at the firm who knows him, like this:

Mr. Jimmy Johnson
c/o Dr. Ruben Rose
ABC Telemarketing Group

As you can see, Mr. Johnson's name still belongs on the first line.


I always considered myself an "expert" in writing letters-- I prefer them to phone or e-mail-- but I still learned quite a bit from this article.

Thank you so much for this article!


My pleasure! Thanks for the comment.


How should an envelope be addressed to two individuals within the same firm?


THANK YOU for all the research on this topic. It has answered all my questions. I mail a numerous envelopes weekly and feel the USPS will be happier with the address formats now that I am using the correct/preferred format.


1) In our city, the streets require North, South, East, and West clarification of addresses (e.g. "123 East Main Street" versus "123 West Main Street"). What is the USPS preference for this? The capitalized direction initial only? Capitalized initial followed by punctuation ("E.")? Spelled out?

2) Does the USPS prefer roadway abbreviations or do they like them spelled out when possible ("St" versus "Street", "Ave" versus "Avenue", "Ct" versus "Court", etc)? If abbreviated, what is the punctuation rule following it? For example, would it be "123 Main Blvd., Suite 200" - a period and comma following the abbreviation or is one or neither of these punctuations necessary?

Thank you! I've learned some things because of this webpage.


If an address needs to be displayed on a single line (in a legal document or on a business card) should you substitute commas for line breaks? What is the most proper way to handle this?


Hi, Jennifer. Please check the USPS website for the answers to your questions. I would have to look up the answers to your questions to ensure accuracy, and I invite you to do the same.

Glen, yes--use commas for line breaks.


Thanks for the info. Im temporarily in the USA and did not know you write return address on the front. In India the return/senders address is written on the back of the envelope


What is the correct way to write this address:
1601 NE 25 Ave or
1601 NE 25th Ave? Or does it even matter?


What is the proper way to address an envelope with the person as a title. Eg. CEO or Vice President
Should "Mr. or Ms." be included before the name?
Mr. John Doe, Vice President
John Doe, Vice President
222 West 23 St
City, State Zip


on envelope we write to or destination or delivery address?


What is the proper way to address an envelope or insert an address in letter when the address includes direction?

John Doe
1234 2 St NE
City, State Zip


John Doe
1234 2 St, NE
City, State Zip

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Kelsey. Your first example is correct.


Acai Optimum

interesting post... i taught i already knew all about addressing a letter... but thanks to your post


where would you place the adresses information in a french enevelope.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Sorry, Mary, I do not know the special requirements of French addresses.



Should I address "Sent to or send to" on the label?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Ann, if you want to use such a phrase, choose "Send to." Normally the placement of the recipient's address on the envelope or package makes "Send to" unnecessary.



is it proper to use the word "to" before recipient's name? ,thank you for all your tips

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

No, the word "to" is not used.



Should the mailing address by centered on the envelope or should it be slightly off center to the right?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Lori. If you are using a standard-size business letter envelope (Number 10), start your address about 4 inches in from the left edge of the envelope. In other words, start slightly to the left of center rather than the right--to allow room to type the address.



How do I write
Flat XX Portman Mansions, Chiltern Street, West Central, London, W1U 6NR

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Bobbi, I am not an expert on English addresses. Good luck!


Sam Deputy

I was taught to spell out numbers under ten in any address. Is that correct? 9 verses Nine.


If a customer (ABC) request me to bill and address the invoice to his subsidiary company (XYZ), may I do like this format??

c/o XYZ
address of XYZ
country of XYZ

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Sam, in answer to your question, "The Gregg Reference Manual" recommends spelling out the number 1 for a house or building number for clarity. The example "Gregg" provides is "One Park Avenue."

"Gregg" also recommends spelling out the numbers 1 through 10 for street names, as in "515 Tenth Avenue."

Those are the only numbers "Gregg" spells out, so these numbers would be correct:

2 Park Avenue
6 Eighth Street
10 Downing Street

I hope that answer is helpful to you.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Paul, if I were sending an invoice, I would ask the customer how the invoice should be addressed.

I do not know whether the c/o symbol is necessary, but the customer would know.



I have a friend in Marines Bootcamp, and when his mom sent me his address, she didnt type it in sections for how I should write it, she sent

RCT Doe,john E PTL 1089 1st Bn A CO. Box 1106 Parris Island, SC 29905-1006

Any chance you know how to format this?

*I didn't want to disclose his name.


I found this article through Google because I needed to address a letter with an "Attn:" line, and hadn't done so in so long, or very many times in my life for that matter, that I couldn't remember if it went all the way above the address, or after the name of the Company itself in the address. Of course I ended up reading the whole article, and although I got more answers correct that I had originally expected to, I learned a lot! Even the answers that I got correct were things that I didn't necessarily know the reasoning for before having read this article. So thank you for taking the time to do research on the "rules" of addressing envelopes and writing a quiz/article on the subject! I learned much more today than I had expected to with regards to mail, and I'm the kind of person that just loves to learn and likes to know everything, and especially the reasons behind things, so I greatly appreciated this article!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Southern_Lolli, I am not certain about about how to break up the address. Perhaps you have asked your friend's mother for the answer.

Here is my educated guess:

RCT Doe, John
E PTL 1089 1st Bn A CO.
Box 1106
Parris Island, SC 29905-1006

I apologize for the belated response.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Nellbell, thank you for telling me how much you appreciated the quiz and answers. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

I'm glad you learned about Attention lines--and more.



Having a son at Parris Island as we speak, I can tell you the correct way you need to address the envelope would be:

Rct. Doe, J T
1st BN, Alpha Co, Plt 1089
P.O. Box 1106
MCRD Parris Island, SC

Always use their last name, followed by their first and middle initials. Hope this helps! Write a LOT of letters!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Trish, thank you so much for taking the time to help Nellbell.

I wish your son safety, happiness, and good health.


Darrell Clark

Since it seems superfluous to put a comma between city and state in an address, I refuse to. I say: Charleston SC 29401

Darrell Clark

To make it perfectly clear:
Charleston SC 29401

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Darrell. The U.S. Postal Service agrees with you.



How do you write an address to a specific office on a university campus?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Karen. If there is something unusual about the address, I suggest calling the school and asking for advice. Many departments have mail stops whose abbreviation is "MS."

The normal rule is smaller to larger:

Street address
City, state zip code


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