Sending Snail Mail? Here's How to Address an Envelope

Photo credit: Brian Hagiwara
Photo credit: Brian Hagiwara

Snail mail may largely be a thing of the past, but the value of a handwritten letter shouldn’t be underestimated. In most cases, an email or text is the preferred mode of communication. After all, it's easy, fast, and doesn't require a trip to the post office. However, writing and sending a letter requires more effort and is considered more personable and formal. It sends a message to the recipient that you care enough to spend a little extra time to send your note. But let's face it, some of us are a little rusty when it comes to addressing an envelope.

Whether you are sending a thank you note, invitation, holiday card, or love letter, you will need to know how to address an envelope. After your letter is crafted and ready to be sent, addressing and applying the correct postage to your envelope will ensure it gets where it needs to go.

How to Properly Address an Envelope

A properly addressed envelope has three main components: a return address, a stamp, and the recipient’s address. The recipient’s address and proper postage are required, but the return address is optional. Even though the return address is not required, it is a good idea to include it on your envelope just in case the letter cannot be delivered to the recipient. If you're sending official mail, like a tax return or bill payment, go ahead and include the return address. It is also important for these three components to be in the right place on the envelope. Here's what you need to know.

Photo credit: Maggie Horton
Photo credit: Maggie Horton

Step One:

First, the return or sender's address goes in the top left corner on the front side of the envelope.

Write your full name on the first line. Underneath your name write your street address. Example: 1234 Rose Street.

Finally, write your city, state, and five digit ZIP code under your street address.

Step Two:

Next, the recipient's information should go in the center on the front side of the envelope. Include the recipient's name and address in the same format as the return address.

However, if the recipient's address is an office or place of business, put the company's name on the first line. In this case, write ATTN: followed by the specific recipients name or job title. Shift all the other lines down accordingly.

Step Three:

Finally, postage should be placed in the top righthand corner on the front of the envelope. Only one stamp is needed for a standard letter to be mailed anywhere in the United States (current price: 60 cents). If your envelope weighs more than one ounce an additional stamp is needed.

Forever stamps are a good option because regardless of when they were purchased they are always valid, even if the price of stamps increases later.

International Mail

There are a few more steps to addressing an envelope if you are sending it outside of the United States. In addition to steps one through three, add an extra line on the recipient's address to include the country.

It's that simple, after following steps one, two, and three your letter is ready to go in the mailbox or to the post office.

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