United States Postal Service Mail

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.    

Standard A Mail

Circulars, booklets, catalogs, newsletters, corrected proof sheets, farm and factory products, photographs, keys, and other merchandise and printed matter that are not required to be sent First Class can be sent via Standard A Mail. Postage imprints may be used for large Standard A mailings.

Size Requirements:

Maximum Weight                 16 oz.
(anything heavier must be mailed at the Standard B or Priority rate)

Minimum Height                  3-1/2”

Minimum Length                 5"

Minimum Thickness           .007" (about the thickness of a postcard)

Nonstandard Mail:

Single-piece Standard A Mail weighing 1 ounce or less is classified as nonstandard if it has a length that is less than 1.3 times its height or more than 2.5 times its height or if it exceeds any of the following:

  • Height: 6-1/8”

  • Length: 11-1/2”

  • Thickness: 1/4”

A surcharge, in addition to the applicable postage and fees, is assessed on each piece of nonstandard mail that exceeds any of these standards.

Nonprofit Standard Mail:

Nonprofit standard mail is available to qualifying nonprofit organizations. To qualify, the mailing must meet the following requirements:

  • All pieces in the mailing must be identical.

  • The mailing must weigh at least 50 lbs. or contain at least 200 pieces.

  • The mailing must be prepared according to USPS regulations. (Mailing & Addressing can do this for you for an additional fee.)