Etiquette Addressing Envelope

by Claire Valenty on January 30, 2010

in Everyday Etiquette

everyday envelope etiquette

Even though we have email (guaranteeing almost immediate delivery), enclosed self-addressed envelopes and on-line bill payment, sometimes we are still called upon to mail a letter. Not only does proper etiquette addressing envelope style make you look good, but, it will ensure your letter or parcel will actually reach its destination and not end up in the dead letter department of the post office where it will sit for a while before being burned. These rules apply for addressing envelopes in the US.

Always place your name and return address in the top left-hand corner. The first line contains your name; you may either put your full name, or your first initial and last name. The next line contains your street address or post office box information and the line underneath that contains your city, then a comma, then the state (abbreviation or written out fully – your choice) and then the zip code. If you do not put a return address on an envelope, the post office is not under any obligation to deliver your mail!

The name of the person you are sending the envelope or package to goes square in the middle. You may put their full name or their first initial and last name. If it is someone you know well, you do not have to use Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss. Otherwise, it is polite to do so. In situations where you do not know if someone is a Mrs. or a Miss, that is when Ms. comes into play. Generally, these days, though, women over the age of 25 tend to feel uncomfortable with the more child-like “Miss” and prefer to be addressed as “Ms.” If the letter will be sent to a business or through another source (for instance, if you wish to mail your Grandmother a letter, but, she lives in a nursing home where they don’t receive email and you must send the letter to your uncle to give to her), on the next line put “c/o {insert business name/source here}”. “C/o” means “care of”. If the letter is being sent to a home or directly to the recipient, this step is not needed. The next two lines would contain the address in the same format as outlined in your return address.

If you have special message to convey, write it at the bottom of the recipient’s address. Some examples are: “confidential”; and “pictures enclosed – please do not bend”.

To ensure your mail gets to its destination, if you have hand writing that is hard to read (and in this digital age of typing, we all do), then use the computer and print out your labels.

Don’t forget that stamp! It goes in the top right-hand corner. Your etiquette addressing envelopes is complete! Now, where is a mail box???

Photo: stock.xchng/Justyna Furmanczyk

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