Mail bin

United States Postal Service Mail

It's important that your mail is addressed clearly and accurately. Follow these tips to help ensure that your mail reaches its destination as quickly as possible: 

USPS Mail Addressing Guidelines

When your mail has an accurate and complete address and ZIP Code, it speeds delivery and is more likely to reach the correct destination. The USPS diverts improperly addressed mail to a directory service for manual handling, which can slow delivery time significantly. Follow these guidelines to help ensure prompt delivery: 

  • Make sure all mail has a destination address and a return address:

    Destination Address
    Recipient’s Name
    Recipient’s Street Address
    Recipient’s City, State & ZIP Code

    Return Address
    Sender’s Name
    Sender’s Street Address
    Sender’s City, State & ZIP Code

  • Place address in the proper block format: single-space the address block and use only one or two spaces between the character groups and between the state abbreviation and ZIP Code.

  • Capitalize everything in the address.

  • Eliminate punctuation.

  • Use the correct two-letter state abbreviations.

  • Use the correct ZIP Code.

  • Type or machine-print all address information. Make sure print is clear and sharp.

  • Ensure address characters do not touch or overlap.

  • Make sure the street address where you want the mail delivered appears on the line immediately above the city, state, and ZIP Code line.

  • Include floor, suite, and apartment numbers whenever possible. These should be placed on the same line as the street address.

  • Place the city, state, and ZIP Code in that order on the last line.This must be the last line. Never place an “attention line,” telephone number, or other entries after the ZIP Code line. The “attention line” should be placed at the top.

  • Do not abbreviate international addresses. Use the complete spelling of a foreign city, province, or country. Place the name of the country on the last line and use all capitals.

  • When using window envelopes, the address must be visible through the window. Make sure the address insert fits the envelope to prevent shifting. Make sure the complete address is always visible, even if the insert moves. Try to keep 1/4” clearance between the address and the window edge.

  • When addressing envelopes larger than regular letter-size envelopes, place the address to the right edge of the piece. It is no longer allowable or readable if centered. Never tape a letter envelope on the outside of a flat or package.

Common Problems to Avoid: address lines out of order, script typeface or handwriting, address not visible through window, address slanted, left margin not flush, nonaddress information below address line, characters touching, not enough contrast. 

Address Placement

Basic mail piece clear zones (unshaded). 


Placement of the address on the face of an envelope should conform to USPS specifications as shown in the diagram above. 


Labels for use on parcels, packages, or large envelopes should be addressed according to the USPS Mail Addressing Guidelines.

Two areas on an envelope will be read by machines: the OCR (Optical Character Reader) Read Area and the Bar Code Read Area.

  • The OCR Read Area is a minimum of 1” from the left to a minimum of 1” from the right and 5/8” from the bottom. (See diagram.)
    • Only the name and address should appear in the OCR Read Area. If any additional information is printed, it should be above the last two lines of the address.
  • The Bar Code Read Area starts at the lower right corner and extends up 5/8” and left 4-3/4”. (See diagram.)
    • No markings (print, lines, smudges, designs, etc.) should appear in the Bar Code Read Area.