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How to: Address USPS domestic mail

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

Placement of addresses:

  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're using a postage solution, such as ShippingEasy, the address is placed on the postage itself automatically.

Addresses must follow a specific format:

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 can’t find either line, then your mailpiece could be delayed or misrouted.

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.

Make addresses legible:

Since machines are reading addresses, it's 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 can’t read the address.
  • If you are using address labels, make sure you don’t cut off any important information. Also make sure your labels are on straight. Mail processing machines have trouble reading crooked or slanted information.

Double check 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 more.

Watch USPS' guide to addressing domestic parcels:

 


Related articles:

How to: Customize USPS domestic shipping labels
Overview: CUSTOMER ADDRESSES page
How to: Upload customer addresses
How does USPS process my packages?
Packing Tips: Protecting Packages from Shipping Hazards

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