Writing Addresses

If you are writing an address, whether typed or handwritten, on an envelope to be mailed via the post office, the U.S. Postal Service recommends that you do not use any punctuation. Use all CAPS. Center the address on the envelope and use a flush left margin. Put room, suite, and apartment numbers on the same line as the street address.


If you know the four-digit extension of the zip code, the post office will be even happier with you.

Also, note that you should use RD for Road and W for West. Other abbreviations: STE for Suite and APT for Apartment.

The above is just one common example. If you have questions about other situations, please refer to the U.S. Postal Service addressing standards.

These addressing standards were developed to improve efficiency by making it easier for their automated equipment to process the mail. If you do not follow the guidelines exactly when either typing or handwriting envelope addresses, your letter might not arrive as quickly, but it will still be delivered as long as the address is accurate.

If you are writing an address in the body of an informal letter, use punctuation. (However, abbreviations should be avoided in formal correspondence.)

Example: Please send mail to Jessie Santana, 4325 W. Palm Beach Rd., San Francisco, CA 94116.

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2 Comments on Writing Addresses

2 responses to “Writing Addresses”

  1. Oliver M. says:

    Quite interesting… and I’ve been doing it all wrong for over 75 years.

    What I am wondering, if the post office wants addresses like that, why don’t they encourage those businesses which include an envelope for some mail-back item to address that return envelope in that manner? Seems to me it would be a good way to alert people of this desired form and set a precedence to follow…

    Thank you… truly enjoy all the helpful items.

    • We doubt that you’ve been doing it “wrong” for 75 years. Following their guidelines just makes it easier for their automated equipment to process the mail and just might get your letter delivered a little bit faster. In addition, the zip code system and the two-letter state abbreviations are only about fifty years old.

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