How to Address a Letter

By: Francisco Guzman  | 

address letter
Letter writing may not be all the rage these days, but addressing a letter is something everyone needs to know how to do. Jupiterimages/Getty Images

In the age of technology, mailing letters seems like an antiquated task and an inconvenience when you can send an email or text in a matter of seconds. But in some cases, mailing a letter might be your only option, your best option or the most sincere option (depending on what type of letter it is, of course). And if that's the case, there's no need to call your parents and risk being called a "millennial," so here's how to get started.

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Choose Your Envelope

The first step is choosing an envelope that suits your letter. Keep in mind that the postage cost depends on the size, shape and weight of the mail. To avoid paying more, make sure that your envelope is rectangular, made of paper, flat and not lumpy or rigid. Once you've chosen your envelope, it's time to address your letter.

Things to remember before starting, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service:

  • Only use a pen or permanent marker
  • Print neatly in capital letters
  • Do not use commas or periods
  • Make sure that the address is clear and written in the correct place, or it may not get delivered

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1. Fill in Recipient's Name and Address

Write the recipient's name and address in the bottom to mid-center of the envelope.

Use this template:

  1. Recipient's full name or company name
  2. Full street address and apartment or suite number
  3. City, State and ZIP+4 Code

If the apartment or suite number doesn't fit on the delivery address line, follow this template:

  1. Recipient's full name or company name
  2. Full street address
  3. Apartment or suite number
  4. City, State and ZIP+4 Code

If you aren't sure of the two-letter state abbreviation you need, here is a complete list of USPS state abbreviations. And if you don't know the ZIP+4 code you need, you can find it here, although the inclusion of the +4 addition is not strictly necessary for the successful delivery of a piece of mail.

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2. Fill in Sender's Name and Address

Write the sender's name and address in the top left-hand corner of the envelope.

Follow this template:

  1. Sender's full name or company name
  2. Full street address and apartment or suite number
  3. City, State and ZIP+4 Code

This is how a correctly addressed and stamped envelope should look:

Letter
Pixabay

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3. Buy Your Postage Stamps

Now that you've addressed your letter, it's time to buy a postage stamp. The amount of postage you'll need depends on the size, weight and destination of your letter. You can calculate your postage cost here.

And here are the different ways you can buy a postage stamp:

  • Online Postal Store. You can shop here and purchase stamps and add-on postage for oversized envelopes.
  • Click-N-Ship. You can print and pay for your own postage and address labels for most types of letters and packages here.
  • Local Post Office. You can buy postage stamps inside your local post office.
  • Approved Postal Providers. You can puchase postage stamps from some grocery and drug stores.

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4. Put Your Letter in the Mail

Now that the hard part is done, it's time to send your letter. You can either leave it in the mailbox for your carrier to pick it up, or drop it off in your nearby post office collection box or lobby.

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