Proper Ways to Address and Fill Out an Envelope

Posted July 30, 2021

When sending a letter, envelope, or parcel it is important to know how to address the letter so that it gets to the correct location and person. If an address is incorrectly labeled it could get sent back to the return address or end up in the wrong hands and cause a headache trying to track down where it was finally delivered.

Proper Ways to Address and Fill Out an Envelope

In this article, we will give examples of how to address an envelope, package, and military address so that you won’t have any trouble once you get the item to the post office.

Addressing an envelope for letters

Address your envelope by following these two steps:

  • Write your return address in the top left corner.
  • Write out the full address of the intended recipient in the center.

1. In the top left corner write your return address.

While not required, when addressing a letter the return address is good to include so that if the address is not found, the recipient no longer lives there, or if there is insufficient postage, the letter can be returned to the sender. This is why it is called a return address. The return address should go in the top left corner of your envelope, starting with your name, with the next line including your street number and name, and the last line containing your city, state, and zip code. Usually, if you are not shipping internationally the country name is not needed.

2. In the center of the envelope write out the full address of the intended recipient.

For a more formal letter, you might include the recipient's title or professional name such as "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Dr." or "Miss". If unsure about the identity of the recipient it is always appropriate to exclude a title and just use their first and last name.

If you are sending your letter to more than one person residing at one address, you can write the last name of the family such as “The Henderson Family” or “Mr. and Mrs. Henderson.”

If you are sending the envelope to a business address you might include C/O in front of the name of your recipient. C/O means "courtesy of '' and informs the office receptionist for whom the letter is intended. You might also write four lines in the center of the envelope which include the recipient's name, department or business name, street address and city, state/province, and zip code.

Next, write the street number and street name under the recipient’s name. If there is any other additional information, like an apartment or suite number, write it after the street address and name. On the third line, include the full name of the city, the state abbreviation, and the zip code. If you're sending mail internationally, include the country name as well.

These templates are for United States Postal addresses but can be applied to other countries as well, such as Canada and Mexico which follow similar formats. However, the UK address placements are slightly different, such as their placement of the return address on the backside of the envelope where the seal is located and the recipient’s address on the front.

Your postage stamp goes in the top right corner of your envelope. If you are unsure of the amount of postage to include you can always take the letter to the post office where they will weigh and calculate the proper amount of postage.

Letters Envelope template

(Top left corner)
[Sender’s full name]
[Sender’s street number and name]
[Sender’s city, state and zip code]

(Center middle of the envelope)

 [Recipient Name]

[Business's name (if applicable)]
[Recipient street number and name]
[Recipient city, state, and zip code]

How to address a large envelope for packages

Addressing a large envelope for a package is just like addressing an envelope for a letter. Since it can be difficult to write on the envelope after there is something bulky inside it is helpful to address the parcel before the contents go in the envelope.

The return address still goes in the top left corner and the recipient address should be centered. Your package may require additional postage depending on the weight, size, contents and destination of the package.

When the envelope is empty use the following step to address your package:

1. In the upper left corner write your return address.

Just like with a letter envelope you will write your return address in the top left corner of your package. The post office will be able to add the proper postage according to the weight, or you can check local postage rates, weigh the package, and adhere the postage yourself.

2. In the center write the recipient's address.

Your recipient’s address goes in the middle of the envelope similar to how you would address an envelope. Write the address larger and clearer than you normally would since the contents of the package could make it more difficult to read.How to address an envelope for military addresses

Military members may move from one location to another often, this makes it more difficult to locate a military address. Writing an envelope for a military address will often require more information like the box number with unit, base abbreviations, and region.

Here is the envelope template to use for military addresses:

(Top left corner)
[Sender’s full name]
[Sender’s street number and name]
[Sender’s city, state, and zip code]

(Center of the envelope)

[Recipient’s name and rank]
[Recipient’s street address and box number with unit]
[Recipient’s base abbreviations]
[Recipient’s zip code and region]

To fill out an envelope for military addresses, follow these steps:

1. Write the full name of the recipient, followed by their rank

It is important to include the full name of the recipient because a single military address may have multiple military members. Be sure to include the recipient’s first name, last name and middle initial. If you know the recipient’s rank including it will help ensure the letter gets to the correct person.

2. Include the recipient's unit details

The next item you will need to include is the recipient's unit number, followed by the box number. This information helps speed up the process of narrowing down the delivery location, which ensures your letter gets to the right person in a timely manner.

3. Add the base abbreviations

Include the base abbreviations because it tells the carrier which type of base to deliver the letter to.

1. Write the full name of the recipient, followed by their rank

It is important to include the full name of the recipient because a single military address may have multiple military members. Be sure to include the recipient’s first name, last name and middle initial. If you know the recipient’s rank including it will help ensure the letter gets to the correct person.

2. Include the recipient's unit details

The next item you will need to include is the recipient's unit number, followed by the box number. This information helps speed up the process of narrowing down the delivery location, which ensures your letter gets to the right person in a timely manner.

3. Add the base abbreviations

Include the base abbreviations because it tells the carrier which type of base to deliver the letter to.

Base abbreviations include:

  • APO: Army Post Office
  • DPO: Diplomatic Post Office
  • FPO: Fleet Post Office

4. Write the region and zip code

The region gives a large approximation of where the base is located so that the carrier can direct the parcel accordingly.

Regions include the following:

  • AE: Europe, Middle East, Canada or Africa
  • AP: Anywhere in the Pacific
  • AA: Anywhere in the Americas

Military Envelope examples

These examples can be used as templates for addressing any envelope or package shipping domestically.

Example: letter or package envelope

Silvia Dodge
1234 Willow Rd.
Sacramento, CA, 94203

Rebecca Hathaway
7788 Moulton St.
Dallas, TX 75001

Example: a military recipient address

Jane Baton
1234 Grove St.
Nevada City, California, 95959

Colonel Trente Latton
Unit 1234 Box 78
FPO AP
82494

Why is it important to know how to address an envelope?

These are a few examples of why it is important to know how to address an envelope:

  • To communicate professionalism. When you are send a business communication or a package in the mail, a correctly addressed envelope shows your professionalism. Since the envelope is the first thing that the recipient sees it is especially important to have a clean, neat address when mailing correspondence on behalf of a business.
  • To reach any difficult destinations. Military or international destinations might not be easy to find and direct parcels to. So, including clear and accurate information on your envelope will make it easier to reach the right person.
  • To secure timely delivery. Packages that have all the information needed means the address can be input and delivered accurately the first time. If something is missing it will likely be returned to the sender or delivered to the wrong address. Be sure to include all necessary information in order to ensure timely delivery.

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