Addressing USPS Domestic Mail | Know How

Since USPS uses automated mail processing machines to read addresses on packages, they have some general guidelines to ensure that addresses are properly identified.

Position Address Correctly on the Parcel

  1. Addresses should be placed on the largest side of the parcel, with text positioned parallel with the largest side.
  2. The return sender information should be included on the top left corner of the parcel.
  3. The addressee information should be placed in the center of the parcel.

Also, always place the postage on the same side of the parcel as the address. If you are using a postage solution, such as ShippingEasy, the address is placed on the postage itself automatically.

Format Address Lines Properly

The mail processing machines will read addresses from the bottom up and will first look for a city, state, and ZIP code. Then the machines look for a delivery address. If the machines cannot find either line, then your mail-piece could be delayed or incorrectly routed.

In addition, any information below the delivery address line (a logo, a slogan, or an attention line) could confuse the machines and misdirect your mail.

To ensure that addresses are correctly read, use the following format for both the return and recipient addresses:

Name or attention line JACK SHIP
Company SHIPPINGEASY
Delivery Address 609 CASTLE RIDGE RD
City, State, ZIP Code  AUSTIN TX 78746

USPS permits abbreviations which can be necessary when printing from a shipping solution, like ShippingEasy, that is subject to character limits. Find tips for abbreviating addresses.

If you need to include an "attention" line, always put it on the top, above the street, city, and state. Never place it in the bottom corner of your parcel.

Write Addresses Legibly

Since machines are reading addresses, it is best to print your address labels from a computer. However, if you must hand write addresses, make sure to use your neatest handwriting. Here are some additional guidelines to follow:

  • All capital letters.
  • No punctuation.
  • At least 10-point type.
  • One space between city and state.
  • Two spaces between state and ZIP Code.
  • Simple type fonts.
  • Left justified.
  • Black ink on white or light paper.
  • No reverse type (white printing on a black background).
  • If your address appears inside a window, make sure there is at least 1/8-inch clearance around the address. Sometimes parts of the address slip out of view behind the window and mail processing machines cannot read the address.
  • If you are using address labels, make sure you do not cut off any important information. Also make sure your labels are on straight. Mail processing machines have trouble reading crooked or slanted information.

Verify the Address is Valid

USPS provides a free address look up tool at USPS.com.

When shipping with ShippingEasy, your addresses will be automatically validated through USPS' database. Any addresses that cannot be verified will be flagged for extra attention. Learn how ShippingEasy validates addresses.

Start your 30-Day Free Trial with ShippingEasy.

Watch USPS' Guide to Addressing Domestic Parcels

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I sell on Etsy and print my ship labels but I wanted to know if it is OK to hand write the address on back or front as the international labels are so small and I am sometimes nervous about it coming off. Never has come off,  just wondering. I think I have done this before. but I don't know if is confuses a machine that reads the address so is it best to put on back? Thanks,

Arlene Blumenthal [redacted information]

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Hello Arlene,

While it wouldn't hurt anything to write the address on the label as long as you did not cover the barcode, it also likely wouldn't help really. Everything is digital and goes off of the information on the barcode itself, so as long as they can scan that everything should be fine!

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