Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
While post mail is becoming less and less common in the digital age, there are still many occasions where sending physical mail is preferable to sending an email. If you’re sending mail to a customer, partner or other stakeholder, be sure to use the correct address format so your mail arrives safely and on time. Otherwise, you could face issues with miscommunication.
Knowing the Importance of Addressing Mail Correctly
The most important reason to address mail correctly is so the postal service can deliver your mail to the intended recipient. If you write the address incorrectly on the envelope or use the wrong format, your mail could be returned to you. As a result, your recipient will not get the mail on time, which could mean business issues. For example, if you were mailing a contract that didn’t get to the recipient on time, the deal could be off.
When sending business mail, be sure to know your contact’s first and last name. Always double check the correct spelling of your associate’s name. This not only helps the postal service to find the recipient but it is also a sign of respect.
If you are unsure of the address of the business to which you’re mailing, look up the address with a web search. You can also confirm the postal code with the United States Postal Service ZIP Code look-up tool.
What Is a Mail Stop Code?
If you are mailing a letter to a large organization, university or college campus or another sizable facility, you may encounter a mail stop code. This is an alphanumeric code that the organization assigns to each location where mail is dropped off. The mail stop code itself often includes details about the recipient's floor number or building. Sometimes, it can denote a department or a desk number.
In addition to being used for external mail, mail stop codes are also useful for internal mail. If you are sending mail from inside a large facility, a mail stop code (internal routing) helps ensure that the mail delivery staff brings it to the right recipient.
How to Correctly Address Business Mail
Begin by writing the recipient's address. It should be placed in the bottom center of the envelope. Use the following format for writing the recipient’s address:
- Recipient’s name
- Recipient’s mail stop abbreviation
- Company name
- Full street address
- City, state and ZIP Code
Be sure to include your address as well. Having the sender’s address on the envelope ensures that the mail can be returned to you if it cannot be sent to the recipient. Place your address in the top left corner of the envelope on the same side as the recipient’s address. Use the following format:
- Your name
- Your mail stop code if applicable
- Your company name
- Your full street address
- Your city, state and ZIP Code
Follow Address-Writing Best Practices
When writing the address on the envelope, be sure to use pen or a permanent marker, not pencil. Remember to write neatly in capital letters. This makes writing more legible and causes less miscommunication. Do not use any punctuation, such as periods or commas at the end of a line. These are not necessary.
Where possible, provide the full nine-digit ZIP Code, not just the five-digit one. This helps the mail carriers to be more accurate in their deliveries. You can find the full nine-digit ZIP Code by searching on the USPS website.
If possible, you can also type the address on your computer and print out labels to stick on an envelope. This is particularly useful if you’re sending multiple pieces of mail. In either case, ensure the address is easy to read and that no letters or numbers can be misinterpreted.
- Write your business address in large block letters, or use a computer with a 10-point or greater type. Small, irregular letters are difficult for an automated mail machine to read.
- Do not place a slogan, logo, attention line or any other text below the delivery address line. Automated mail machines read business addresses from the bottom up, so additional text may misdirect your mail.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.