Addressing U.S. Mail

The Postal Service requests that mailers follow certain addressing guidelines that permit the efficient processing of letter-size mail on automated OCR's and bar code sorters (BCS's). The address, or at a minimum, the city, state, and ZIP Code line of the address on a letter-size mail piece should be located within an imaginary rectangle (the OCR read area) on the front of the mail piece formed by the following boundaries: a) at least 1/2 inch from the left edge; b) at least 1/2 inch from the right edge; c) at least 5/8 of an inch from the bottom edge (bottom line of rectangle); d) no more than 2 3/4 inches from the bottom edge (top line of the rectangle).

Nonaddress printing, computer-punched holes, underlines, boxes or other unnecessary information should not be placed within the OCR read area, alongside or below the city, state and ZIP code line of the address.

The address elements (street and number and apartment number, p.o. box number, or general delivery address) should be included in the address on all mail to ensure delivery and to prevent nondelivery or return due to insufficient addressing. A University departmental return address must be included on all outgoing mail. The return address on letter-size mail should be located in the upper left corner of the address side. The return address should not be positioned below the delivery address, and it should not appear on the reverse side of a mail piece.

In addition to the above information for address placement, the Postal Service has implemented guidelines to assist mailers in addressing for automation readability and faster delivery. When typing addresses or generating address labels, you should use capital letters only; do not use lower case letters. Do not use punctuation: delete the use of a colon in the attention line; do not use a comma to separate the city and state abbreviation; delete the use of a period such as is normally used after words like "MR, PO BOX AND MAIN ST". The only punctuation permitted is the hyphen, used as part of a ZIP + 4 code.

When addressing for automation readability, the attention line should be the first line of an address. The name of a company, if applicable, is the second line of an address. The next line is the delivery information such as street address or post office box address. If applicable, remember to include an apartment number. The last line of an address must be the city, state abbreviation, and ZIP code. Please remember to use the two-letter alpha abbreviation for the state, such as AR for Arkansas. If you know the ZIP + 4 code, the Postal Service prefers that it be used.

Adherence to these guidelines will help hold down future postage cost increases and promote the speediest movement of your mail to its destination.