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Writing Addresses

If you are writing an address, whether typed or handwritten, on an envelope to be mailed via the post office, 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.

Example:
JESSIE SANTANA
4325 W PALM BEACH RD RM 419
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94116

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.

If you are writing an address in the body of a letter, use punctuation.

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

Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007, at 6:42 pm


58 Comments

58 Responses to “Writing Addresses”

  1. According to the USPS, all capital letters should also be used.

  2. Karen says:

    Where have I been? I use punctuation on mailings all the time. When did this change?

  3. Jack Gordon says:

    Aam I glad to see your critique of using commas before “and” in a series of three or more!

    This is the way I learned it more than half a century ago and have continued in its use. I have been citicized by many others for fidelity to this pricniple.

    Others have said that even our best newspapers don’t follow the principle anymore, with the sole exception, I believe, of the New York Times.

  4. Jane says:

    Sandra points out that the post office also requests all capital letters on business addresses. She’s absolutely correct. However, I couldn’t find this same instruction on the USPS web site for personal mail.

  5. Debbie says:

    I am glad to see that this is finally getting out there. While I was in an office position, I kept in close contact with the postal office. They taught me decades ago about not putting in any punctuations on the envelope that was going to be mailed. I thought I was the only one who knew, because nobody else seems to do that.

  6. Sandra Flatt says:

    In addition to the NO PUNCTUATION rule, a rule of thumb for business that I teach is to type all of the information in ALL CAPITAL letters. This not only is quicker to type but more efficient for the Post Office to sort. Thank you for your invaluable information!

  7. Sandra Flatt says:

    I could not find it in my booklet I have in my classroom from the Post Office either. I remember this from a business writing course I took in college.

  8. Nat Hooper says:

    That’s a new one to me. THANK YOU!

    Nat

  9. freddie says:

    Thank you for the new information of addres writting.

  10. grace ceniza says:

    thanks for all the tips you are sending me. I hope you will continue sending me more of your ideas.

    grace

  11. Ernestine Ancrum Winns says:

    Thank you for sharing. When should a comma go after “and”?

  12. dilnia says:

    hi,
    Thanks for sending an e-mail like this ……. if u can just send more & more

    yours
    Dilnia A Qader

  13. Jane says:

    Ernestine, you don’t need a comma after “and.”

  14. Mitch Lopate says:

    This appears to have been answered in the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves by British author Lynne Truss.
    As I recall, Lynne explained this as the “Oxford comma,” and I discuss this each semester in my college composition class. So it seems to have been a true “English” issue–and I would rather have the extra comma.

    I use the example of the 60s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary–and I prefer to have the comma after Paul Stookey’s name. The reason for that, I explain, is that if Paul could not make a performance for some reason, would that exclude Mary too?

  15. Misty says:

    The Associated Press Stylebook dictates the lack of a comma before the conjunction in a series. Most newspapers and journalistic writers adhere to the AP principals/rules of writing.

  16. Mark M says:

    What if it’s a single-digit house/building number? For example:
    Two Penn Center, Suite 1313

    Would I write 2 PENN CENTER STE 1313 or TWO PENN CENTER STE 1313?

    • Jane says:

      This is from the USPS site, http://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/pub28c2_016.htm: Numeric street names, for example, 7TH ST or SEVENTH ST, should be output on the mailpiece exactly as they appear in the ZIP+4 file. Spell out numeric street names only when there are duplicate street names within a postal delivery area and the only distinguishing factor is that the one you matched is spelled out.

      Most of us don’t have the ZIP+4 file; therefore I recommend following the advice given in the second sentence, i.e., generally use numerals.

  17. Cori says:

    I learned how to write an envelope in fourth grade…. they stated that this is the new way to address an envelope.

    By the way, that was in the late 1970′s.

    • Jane says:

      Perhaps they were referring to the introduction of the zip code for United States mail. Ziip codes were introduced in 1967 and were still being promoted as “new” in the1970s. (Please note that there is no appostrophe in 1970s.)

  18. sabrina says:

    What is the correct way to write “suite” when there are 2 suite numbers?

    • Jane says:

      The plural of suite is suites. It should be capitalized if it is part of a formal address.
      Example: 100 Wilshire Boulevard, Suites 100 and 101.

  19. Philip says:

    Some people still use a hyphen to separate the number of the house or apartment from the name of the street (e.g., 602 – 32nd Street. Will you please tell me how long before or after World War II this practice ended? Thanks

    • Jane says:

      Personally, I’ve never seen this practice and do not see any information on the internet about it. You may wish to inquire with the US Postal Service.

  20. JONATHAN says:

    Hello Jane,

    When using all caps for mail addresses can titles be used without the punctuation? Mr., Ms. as MR, MS.

    Thank you,

    Jonathan

    • Jane says:

      Our blog Writing Addresses says, “If you are writing an address, whether typed or handwritten, on an envelope to be mailed via the post office, do not use any punctuation. Use all CAPS.” Therefore, a title would also be written without punctuation. Examples:

      MR FRED SIMON
      MS MARIA SANCHEZ

  21. B. Cortez says:

    When writing an address on a letter, returning to the sender, what is the proper way to include inc. at the end of the company name?

    • Jane says:

      If you are simply returning an unopened envelope, you only need to write “Return to sender” on the envelope. If you are writing a letter in response to a letter received from a corporation, Inc. should be capitalized and include a period, but a comma is not required after the company name. Example: Weblinx Inc.

  22. Susan says:

    My address has a “1/2″ in it. (i.e., 1234 1/2 Main Street)
    Many places don’t allow for the backslash.
    What is the correct alternative? 1234.5? 1234B?

    • Jane says:

      I am not sure that I understand what you mean by “places” that do not allow for the backslash. It is possible that this is not a grammar question but a question for the postal service. If your address is 1234 1/2 Main Street, any “alternative” could result in misdirected mail.

  23. I am a Canadian. Are there different rules for Canada such as something based on either English or French rules?

    I was taught:
    Catcher Andrews,
    Apt. 57,
    27 Laurier Rd.,
    Ottawa, Ontario. …….

  24. Helga says:

    Hello, do we normally write house number prior to the street name? For example, would it be correct to write the address in the following way (this address is outsite the US, but I need to write it according to the English norms):

    155 Joliot Str., Balashiha 141980, Moscow Region, Russia

    Balashiha is a city, and 141980 is the postal code of the city. Would it be correct to write the zip code right after the city name? Or do I have to write it after the “Moscow Region”?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Jane says:

      The United States norm would be to write the address exactly as it would be written to ensure proper delivery in whatever country the address resides. If you feel you must write it according to American English norms, then street is abbreviated St. Our zip codes come after the name of the state. Perhaps then, your postal code should follow Moscow Region.

  25. Karen says:

    what if i don’t want to put a particular name on it under the return address but that return envelop is for our whole family/household use, e.g. our surname is TOMSON, then how to write? Coz if to put “TOMSON’S FAMILY” that sound too childish and not really grant/formal. Any suggestions?

  26. Alexandra says:

    I was taught to write an address this way: 659 West 123rd Street. However, I’ve recently read in the Webster’s New Essential Writer’s Companion: A Concise Guide to Writing Effectively for School, Home, or Office that the “rd” should be omitted. Is there a rule for this? I assume the “rd” can be left out because the street number is followed by the word “Street.”

    • Jane says:

      The USPS Postal Addressing Standards Publication 28 says, “Numeric street names, for example, 7TH ST or SEVENTH ST, should be
      output on the mailpiece exactly as they appear in the ZIP+4 file.”

  27. Nick H. says:

    I was taught in high school typing/keyboarding (early 90s) that after the state abbreviation in an address, you type two spaces followed by the zip code … is that still proper?

    Otherwise, I’ve always considered it optional to just return (start a new line) with the zip code on its own line … or is that not correct?

    • Jane says:

      The USPS Postal Addressing Standards Publication 28 says, “Format the Last Line [sic] with at least one space between the city name, two–character state abbreviation, and ZIP+4 Code. Note: Two spaces are preferred between the state abbreviation and ZIP+4 Code.”

  28. RAnder says:

    You have no idea what you are talking about.
    PERIOD after W.
    Period after Rd.
    COMMA after San Francisco,
    PERIOD after abbreviated state name CA. This is not necessary after a state name which is fully spelled out.
    This is the problem with the Internet, anyone can make themselves out to be an expert, even when they are not conveying the proper information.

    • Jane says:

      The United States Postal Service has clear standards, which are stated in its publications. Publication 28 says, “With the exception of the hyphen in the ZIP+4 Code, punctuation may be omitted in the delivery address block.” The following is what the USPS identifies as a “Preferred Address:”

      MR WALTER W WITHERSPOON JR
      MDM ENTERPRISES INC
      1401 S MAIN ST
      PLUMMER’S LANDING KY 41081-1411

      In addition, the USPS article “Addressing Tips” says the following:
      “Avoid commas, periods, or other punctuation—it helps your mailpiece speed through our processing equipment.”

      We appreciate your pointing out what the problem is with the Internet. However, it can also be a terrific tool for researching facts and information before making incorrect and discourteous statements.

      • Nick says:

        Thank you Jane for your insightful information about postage and addressing.

        As for RAnder, what would make me want to believe what you have to say any more than what Jane said? I would also like to point out where you are making this posting, referring to the book that Jane wrote. I would assume the reason you would have visited this web page would have been to seek Jane’s knowledge on the subject. If that is not the case then I would like to ask why you visited the site in the first place. The reason being that your comment doesn’t really seem to have a point. Maybe it’s just me, who by the way is NOT an expert, but it seems as though it is you who has no idea what they are talking about, not Jane.

      • HYork says:

        I have reviewed the previous blogs searching for the correct way to write an address for a business. This particular posting was the closest to what I need to clarify. There are so many companies writing addresses differently and I want to be correct.

        I agree the name should be listed on the first line above the business but I’ve noticed many companies list the persons name on the second line or not in the address portion at all but on the bottom left corner of the envelope. Are either of these correct as well or neither? Also, is it necessary to put ATTN: in front of the personal name or not at all?

        I would appreciate any advice you might be able to provide.

        • Jane says:

          According to the United States Postal Service Publication 28, “The Attention Line is placed above the Recipient Line, that is, above the name of the firm to which the mailpiece is directed.”
          Examples:

          JOHN DOE
          ABC COMPANY
          1401 MAIN ST
          FALLS CHURCH VA 22042-1441

          ATTN JOHN DOE
          ABC COMPANY
          1401 MAIN ST
          FALLS CHURCH VA 22042-1441

  29. Dale L. Cobb says:

    In the first example you use “W”. In the second example you use “W.”. Which is considered more grammatically correct?

    • Jane says:

      It depends on where you are writing the address. If you are writing an address on an envelope to be mailed via the post office, do not use any punctuation. If you are writing an address in the body of a letter, use punctuation.

  30. Zahra says:

    Hi
    Is it right to write address like this:
    7 UNIT 2,
    BAHMAN ALLEY,
    NORTHERN MINA ST,
    YAZDAN ST,
    TEHRAN,
    IRAN
    The 7 is the Number of the house(in the Bahman St) and unit 2 is because of that it is an apartment with 2 houses in each flat and my house is the second one(=the bell number).

    • Jane says:

      The United States Postal Service recommends avoiding punctuation. We wonder why you have two different streets listed for one address. We are not experts in the standards of postal services outside the United States. You may wish to consult the postal service where you live for specific standards.

  31. Thomas says:

    What is we wanted to write an address all on one line when there is a suite. Do you put a comma after the suite number and before the city or is that not appropriate

    123 Smith St., Suite 100, New York, NY 10001

    OR

    123 Smith St., Suite 100 New York, NY 10001

    • If you are addressing an envelope, the United States Postal Service recommends avoiding punctuation. Also, uppercase letters are preferred on all lines of the address block. According to the United States Postal Service Publication 28, “Secondary address unit designators, such as APARTMENT or SUITE, should be located at the end of the delivery address line.”

      Therefore, write:

      123 SMITH ST STE 100
      NEW YORK NY 10001

      However, if you are writing an address in text and desire to keep it all on one line, you may write it as 123 Smith St., Suite 100, New York, NY 10001.

  32. Dragantraces says:

    https://www.usps.com/send/addressing-tips.htm?
    https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction!input.action

    These links are to USPS webpages.

    The first gives details on how to address an envelope. Basically, it says “all caps, no punctuation unless it is actually a part of a name or address, use all addressing abbreviations, start specific and end general.

    ATTN line (if needed)
    Then department (if needed)
    Then company name
    Then street address including STE, #(Yes, this is ok to use), SP, APT, etc. (The abbreviations are also on the UPSP site)
    Then city, then 2-letter state, then ZIP and +4

    The second is a page that looks up zip codes if you provide a enough of a real address—that is to say enough of the correct address for a real location. It will return the address, properly formatted (ALL CAPS) for the Post Office, with the ZIP Code and +4. You can just copy/paste and be done with it.

    This has nothing at all to do with grammer, punctuation, how you think it looks, or keeping your pinky finger in the air as you sip. This is strictly functional. Do whatever you like/learned in school/think is proper on the inside address. If you want the least likelihood of UPPS mail issues, address the envelope the way they request.

    If you need to mail to an address outside of the USA, check the Internet for that country’s instructions.

    This is too easy for all of these repetitious questions and postings…

  33. Autumn Ryder says:

    when writing the address in the body of the letter the abbreviations used in the address do you use all caps? example MR & MRS John Smith
    3981 Broad ST
    Richmond VA 23230-1441

    • The US Postal Service recommends all caps and no punctuation for the address on the outside of the envelope. However, the body of the letter should follow normal capitalization and punctuation rules.

  34. mag says:

    Use of all caps LOOKS LIKE SHOUTING even if it’s on an envelope.

    THis “rule” is for the satisfaction of USPS, but off-putting to human beings, who find all-caps harder to read and ugly. It also looks like drone-generated junk mail or humorless material such as bills, and thus more likely to remain unopened or opened with trepidation.

    I daresay the scenario in which a letter is delayed because it was printed in title case is rare. I’ll stick with friendly style and connect with the recipient, not the mailman.

    • According to the US Postal Service, all mail is read and sorted by computerized machines before being handed over, in the delivery order of each route, to the mail carriers. If the machines make any errors in reading the addresses, mail will likely be delayed by at least one day, depending on the type of error. If names and addresses are typed, hand printed, or hand written clearly, errors may not occur. However, the surest way of getting your time-sensitive letters delivered promptly is to follow USPS guidelines.

  35. Sandra says:

    When writing an address with an apartment number (i.e. #203) in a sentence, do you use a comma between the street address and the apartment number? For example:

    Please send all correspondence to 123 Broad Street #203, Kalamazoo, MI 12345

    or

    Please send all correspondence to 123 Broad Street, #203, Kalamazoo, MI 12345

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