You know how to address a letter. Or do you?

You invest a lot of time and money in your direct mail campaign. That’s why it’s so important to be sure you’re not making address mistakes. Automated mail-processing machines will be reading your addresses, and they don’t leave much room for error.

Here are some dos and don’ts that can help make sure your mail reaches its destination.


  • Use at least 10-point type, and simple fonts are preferred.
  • Left justify every line in the address book.
  • Leave one space between the city and state and two spaces between the state and ZIP Code.
  • Use black ink on white or light paper.
  • Use a PO Box address or street address — but not both.
  • If the address has a directional — for instance, NW for northwest — be sure to use it.
  • Double-check ZIP Codes using the ZIP Code lookup tool on
  • Print addresses in all capital letters (preferred).


  • Put anything below the ZIP Code line. Automated mail processing machines read addresses on mail pieces from the bottom up and will look first for a city, state, and ZIP code.
  • Use patterns, prominent flecks, or shiny-coated paper for your envelopes. Some types of paper interfere with the machines that read addresses.
  • Use reverse type (white printing on a black background).
  • Let parts of the address slip out of view if your address appears inside a window.
  • Cut off important information when using address labels.
  • Apply labels at a slant.
  • Use punctuation, with the exception of the hyphen in the ZIP+4 Code.

By double-checking that you’ve addressed your mail pieces correctly, you can help make sure they arrive where they’re supposed to. Mailpiece Design Analysts (MDAs) can assist with the mail piece design and can provide technical assistance with using special papers. Contact the Help Desk for more information at

Reposted with permission of, a resource for business knowledge and insights.