The way you address an envelope to a post office (P.O.) box may seem insignificant, but in the business world, even the small details can make or break your professional persona. Also, how well you address your mail can affect how it's handled and the speed at which it's delivered, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS). The more accurate the address, the better. So, before you send the next small or large mail piece to a supplier, sub-contractor, potential backer, client or potential client, correctly add the P.O. box number and check a few other mailing details.
P.O. Box or Street Address
When you're addressing an envelope to a client or associate, don't include the P.O. box number and the street address. Use one or the other, not both. If you decide to use the street address and it includes a directional, such as SW for Southwest, do not leave it out. A street address can vary, depending on its directional location, whereas a post office box is a uniquely numbered locking compartment.
Periods and Abbreviations
What about the periods in the term P.O. box? And should you use its abbreviated form to address an envelope? The USPS prefers that you omit all periods (and commas), and use standard abbreviations in the address block, so simply write it as "PO BOX", not "P.O. BOX."
Positioning the P.O. Box Number in the Address Block
The address block consists of all the lines in an address. The order of each line is important for efficient handling. Begin a mailing address with the recipient's name, roughly centered on the envelope. Below the name, include a business name, if applicable. Then, add the post office box number (or the street address). On the last line, include the city, state and ZIP code.
- JOE RECIPIENT
- RECIPIENT CONTRACTING
- PO BOX 123
- CHICAGO IL 60601
For all domestic or international mail, write addresses as legibly as possible. In accordance with USPS standards, align each line of the address block to the left and, preferably, write all words and abbreviations in capital letters. Again, no periods or commas. Write your return address in the same format as the address block. Position the return address in the top-left corner of the envelope.
Dealing with P.O. Box Designations
If you look up an address and notice that the P.O. box number appears along with a designation, such as CALLER, BIN or DRAWER, omit the designation on the envelope. For instance, instead of writing "BIN M," write "PO BOX M" when addressing outgoing mail.
Improving Legibility and Efficiency
Businesses typically have a lot of incoming and outgoing mail, so writing addresses by hand seems impractical. Consider using a printer to make address labels, which improve address readability and workload efficiency. If you have a USPS account, you can use its Click-N-Ship feature to print labels for priority mail, buy stamps, set a preferred language for your international customers and more. Taking advantage of such tools not only helps polish your professional image but, more importantly, earns time for you to spend growing your venture.
Lorna Hordos is a home-improvement business owner and freelance writer. She has written hundreds of conversational business articles for WordPress.com, Bizfluent, AZ Central and Global Post.