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How to Properly Address an Envelope on a Card

Updated on October 4, 2017

How to Properly Address Christmas, Birthday, or Holiday Cards

Below is a quick and easy lesson on addressing an envelope or card for Christmas, or any other holiday or occasion. I often see envelopes and holiday cards addressed incorrectly. The rules are easy to remember and you can avoid embarrassment by following them.

Don't Do This!

The Biggest Mistake in Addressing a Card Is Using an Apostrophe in the Last Name of the Recipient

How to Address an Envelope with Multiple Last Names

Now that many women are keeping their maiden names after they get married, many families now have more than one last name. For these trickier situations, I've made a handy table that should address all of the possible situations you may face.

Note:

  • Typically, it doesn't matter whose name comes first on the envelope except when one spouse "outranks" the other—then the person with the higher rank should be listed first.

Proper Address Labels

Situation
Correct Form of Address
Married, informal address
Jane and John Doe
Married, informal address, she uses maiden name
Jane Kelly and John Doe
Married, formal address
Mr. and Mrs. Doe
Married, she uses maiden name
Mr. John Doe and Ms. Jane Kelly
Married, she uses maiden name, with children
The Doe/Kelly Family or The Doe and Kelly Family
Unmarried, living together
Mr. John Doe and Ms. Jane Kelly
When she outranks husband (elected office or military officer)
Senator Jane Kelly and Mr. John Doe
When she outranks husband (professional or educational degrees)
Dr. Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe
Both doctors (Ph.D. or Medical)
Drs. Jane and John Doe or Dr. Jane Doe and Dr. John Doe
Both doctors (Ph.D. or Medical), she uses maiden name
Dr. Jane Kelly and Dr. John Doe
A judge
The Honorable Kelly and Mr. John Kelly

Biggest Mistake When Addressing a Card or Envelope

The biggest mistake that I see when writing an address on a card is the improper use of the apostrophe. Apostrophes show possession. You are addressing the entire family (a plural), not something they possess.

Some might say that you could be referring to the house when you use an apostrophe in a label, e.g., The Edmondson's [house]. The problem is that you don't write to a house, but to those living in the house. Your best bet is no apostrophe.

Here is a basic example of an uncomplicated address:

Addressing an Envelope: Names Ending in S, SH, CH, X, or Z

It becomes a bit more complicated when you have names ending in "s, sh, ch, x or z". In these cases you add an "es" to refer to the entire family.

Remember, The Vix's or Jones's is incorrect!

Another Method of Address

If adding an "es" to the end of the family name sounds awkward, then you can address the letter to "The Vix Family" or "The Jones Family."

PO Box Addresses

Addressing an envelope to a PO Box is simple. Do the same thing you would do for a home address, except put the PO Box number where the street address would go. Here's an example of a PO Box address label.

More Helpful Tips for Addressing Envelopes

The United States Postal Service gives the following guidelines:

  • Other than the ZIP + 4 code, punctuation may be omitted from the address block.
  • City names must be spelled out completely.
  • Place one space between the city, state, and ZIP. (Two spaces are preferred between state abbreviation and ZIP.)
  • Always put the address and the postage on the same side of your mailpiece.
  • On a letter, the address should be parallel to the longest side.
  • Use capital or block letters
  • At least 10-point type
  • 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.
  • Military Addresses: Overseas locations must contain APO or FPO designations along with two character "state" abbreviation of AE, AP or AA, (AE is used for armed forces in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Canada; AP is for the Pacific; and AA is used for the Americas excluding Canada) plus the ZIP (e.g., APO AE 09001-4567); domestic locations use only the approved city name, as listed in the City State file, and the state abbreviation and ZIP.

Just Remember:

There is no use for an apostrophe in address labels. For more information about addressing your envelopes visit the U.S Postal Service website.

Questions & Answers

  • When sending a Get Well Card for a judge who is a friend...how does one address the envelope?

    The proper way to address a judge is, The Honorable (Last Name). If the judge is someone that you would consider a very close friend/family member and is not a formal person, you probably could get away with using their first and last name. However, it might be a good idea to error on the more conservative side and address them as stated above. It is a sign of respect that they likely deserve.

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    • profile image

      Sara 3 months ago

      When it comes to filing labels and you come across the name (last name first), do you type is as:

      Name of staff: Capt. John Cook

      Filing label: COOK, John Capt. ? is this correct?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 14 months ago from San Francisco

      That address is correct, Bob.

    • profile image

      bob 14 months ago

      But everything else is correct?

    • profile image

      bob 14 months ago

      Please tell me is this correct?

      Bob Greenfield

      690 Hodge Drive, PMB 984

      Duncan, SC 29334

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 14 months ago from San Francisco

      Hi Amy, I would address her in the married formal manner, e.g., Mrs. Jane Doe.

    • profile image

      Amy 14 months ago

      How to properly address an invitation to a widow who's husband was a Reverand/ Preacher?

    • profile image

      Brian Jana 16 months ago

      Jimmy Last Name estates

      Female Name (Prep)

      Any Address

      Any State, Zip.

      what does the (Prep) mean after the name coming from an fiancial institution?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 2 years ago from San Francisco

      H, Why don't you put your daughter's name on the return label? The tricky part is not the names, but the address. I assume you have different addresses.

    • profile image

      2 years ago

      Divorced and confused! How should I do my daughters return labels for her graduation announce? I am recently remarried and need to include her step fathers name for his relatives?

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 2 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I've been writing out addresses on envelopes for years, but this taught me a lot. Thanks!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 3 years ago from San Francisco

      It's okay to just leave just your last name in the return address, although the USPS recommends your full name.

    • profile image

      rsmallcomb 3 years ago

      Is it every okay to put only your last name in the return address area?

    • profile image

      DAC 3 years ago

      2 spaces are preferred between state and zip code.

      but, your examples don't show that.

      details.

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      jneen29, I would address the card:

      Mr. and Mrs. Doe

    • profile image

      jneen29 5 years ago

      How do address an invitation label when you don't know the wife's name, but you do know they have a wife?

      Mr. John Doe and spouse?

      Mr. John Doe and wife?

      Mr. John Doe and guest?

    • louromano profile image

      louromano 5 years ago

      When addressing envelopes to the Williams family, should I use The Williams Family

    • profile image

      Lisa W. 5 years ago

      Hi Robin,

      Thank you so much for your GREAT site. I thought I was addressing right, but wasn't completely sure. Now I'm smug to know that everyone else was wrong! I am not even going to try and help them find the error of their ways. I am just happy to know that what I thought was right, was! Sincerely, Lisa in Las Vegas

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Julie, thanks for the question! This is a hard one and I have been writing my cards all week and dealing with this issue. There are many families now that have two names; how do we address them correctly? Since it's your return label that you are wondering about, it is entirely up to you. However, I think the Smith/Price Family is a great way to do it. Happy Holidays!

    • profile image

      Julie Price 5 years ago

      I have a question regarding the return labels for my cards. I kept my last name and my husband and I have a son. I just write The Smith Family even though my last name is Price. I am worried that if I send a card to someone at work who only knows me as Price they might not know who the card came from. I know I could solve this by singing my full name inside the card but that seems odd. Should I write The Smith/Price Family. I don't want it to come across that I am sensitive about people calling me by my maiden name because I'm not. I have just been too lazy to change it. I feel like this is a personal choice but wonder what etiquitte says or what other people in this situation usually do.

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      VROD, I'm so sorry for your loss. I would address the card, "Uncle John Smith" with obviously your Uncle's name.

    • profile image

      VROD 5 years ago

      Im sending Christmas cards for my Uncle, we recently lost my Aunt last week, what is the proper way to write the closing?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Great question: How to address divorced families on a card? My advice would be to continue to say The Smith Family. Even though divorce has occurred, they are still a family - especially if the children are living at home or are in college. If the father has moved out and you want to send him a card, I would address it only to him. Once the children have their own addresses, I would send the cards to each individual person and no longer use the word "Family". Thanks for the question!

    • profile image

      Patricia 5 years ago

      I have been sending my Christmas cards to families with children as: The Smith Family. What is the proper way to address it if you know the parents are now separated but the children are still living at home?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Rita,

      I can understand your frustration. Although their labeling is correct, it is a bit old-fashioned. I have a feeling it was addressed by someone thinking they were addressing the envelope properly. If you think about wedding invitations, this is a very common way to label. It probably would have been better to address the card, The Smith Family or The Smiths, but I doubt they were trying to offend you. Wishing you a very Happy Holidays!

    • profile image

      Rita 5 years ago

      Our family received a Christmas card today addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Suzie(our daughter). These are not our real names by the way. Am I wrong to be insulted that my name was completely omitted? My husband thinks I am over reacting, but I think I have a valid complaint.

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Shirely,

      Yes that is correct. The Rev. and Mrs. John Doe is perfectly acceptable.

      Thanks, Someone! ;)

    • profile image

      Someone 5 years ago

      I just wanted to point out that it's cool how since 5 YEARS ago this post was made; and people are still commenting on this!

    • profile image

      Shirely Gene 5 years ago

      Is it proper to address an envelope to ones pastor and wife: The Rev and Mrs. John Doe? Thanks for a most interesting website!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hello, Asharp. You have a few choices with the surname English: The Englishes, Mr. and Mrs. English, or The English Family.

      Cheers!

    • profile image

      Asharp 5 years ago

      How would I address a letter to a family with the last name "English"?

    • sunitibahl9 profile image

      SBHK 6 years ago from India

      i really didn't knew that i used to make lots of mistakes,thanks for correcting

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I agree, Randomcreative! I've had over 114,000 people visit this page. If only a quarter of them make the changes to address an envelope correctly, I am happy!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I am a grammar dork. Mistakes on basic communications like work memes and envelopes drives me CRAZY! It's sad that so many people don't know the information in this hub, but I know that it's true.

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Steve, your introduction sounds perfect. Congratulations to your daughter!

    • profile image

      Steve 6 years ago

      How would I introduce my deceased wife on a paper to my child's Honor Society dinner. Is this correct? John Smith and the late Jane Smith? Thanks for any input.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      These are really useful hints and tips, Robin. I am loving the Grammar Mishaps series and am going to read them all. Voted up!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Jerry,

      Yes, if she is talking about multiple clients and their families, you would say, "my clients' families" or "my clients's families". (Either way is correct.) If she is talking about one client's family. She would say, "my client's family."

    • profile image

      customenvelopes 6 years ago

      That apostrophe error is so widespread I wonder if the grammarians should simply change the rules! Thanks for a useful post, and an enjoyable read!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Patricia,

      I would just use the child's name, but either way is fine. Thanks for reading the Hub! Robin

    • profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      I was wondering the correct way to address a card to a one year old child - or any child for that matter. Do we use Miss and Mister with their name, or do we just write the child's name by itself?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Amanda,

      Thanks for the comment. Even though the Edmondsons may own the house, you are not writing the letter to the house. "The Edmondsons" is correct. ;) I also added a section to the Hub about addressing households with multiple last names. Great comment!

      Rachel,

      It is up to you if you want to put nicknames in a label. The postal service would probably rather you didn't. If you'd like to add "Aunt" or "Uncle" to the name, I'm sure that's fine.

      Kelsey,

      I added a PO Box section to my Hub if you'd like to find the answer there. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      kelsey 6 years ago

      I dont have a street address I have a PO Box how would I go about addressing it

    • profile image

      Rachel 7 years ago

      You never answered Valerie's question.

      valerie 21 months ago

      what if it's a personal letter among family, can you put nicknames, do you have to put the last name?

    • profile image

      Amanda 7 years ago

      You've mentioned that "The Edmondson's" would be incorrect unless you are referring to their house. However, since the house is owned (possessive) by the family/parents (plural), wouldn't "The Edmondsons' House" be the correct way to write this?

      Also, do you have any recommendation for addressing casual cards and letters to families with multiple last names? Eg. John Smith, Mary Jones-Smith, and Billy and Sally Jones. The Smith/Jones Family? I'm having trouble finding information on this one!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi maryann, you are correct. It is still correct to address a card that way; however, I prefer to use both the woman and man's name. Either way is fine. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      MaryAnn 7 years ago

      I was taught that when addressing a card to anyone who is married woman this way: Mrs. John Doe, using the husband=s name not the wife's. Now I am told this is wrong or incorrect. How do you address your daughters card or letter correctly?

      Thanks

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      bdawkins, You don't use an appostrophe when you are addressing your last name. "Dawkins" is correct. Thanks for the question!

      Jeff Williams, "The Williams Family" is correct.

      Robin

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Gayla,

      It depends on how formal you want your invitation. It is traditional and formal to write, "Mr. and Mrs. Jeri Bills and Family." However, this feels antiquated to me. I prefer, "Mr. and Mrs. Bills," or "The Bills Family."

      Thanks!

      Robin

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      Good reading. If postage keeps going up at the same rate, soon we can just hand deliver, and simply say, "Here's yall's Christmas card!" That's what we say in the south, good chance we'd get some grub before leavin too.

    • profile image

      bdawkins 7 years ago

      I am doing my return address labels for x-mas cards and with my last name ending in an s "Dawkins" should I use The Dawkins'?

    • profile image

      jeff williams 7 years ago

      When addressing envelopes to the Williams family, should I use The Williams Family

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 8 years ago from Canada

      Years ago we used to receive Christmas cards addressed to

      Mr. and Mrs. E. Jones and Fly, (Fly being short for family)

      1 street name,

      City, ST Country P0STC0DE

      A friend called me asking who this fly was? I found it hysterical. Great hub as Christmas comes around again. I shall take note.

    • profile image

      Gayla 8 years ago

      For invitations, which one of the following is best: Brian and Jeri Bills Family, Brian and Jeri Bills and Family, Mr. and Mrs. Brian Bills and Family, or Mr. and Mrs. Brian Bills Family? Do you really have to write The Bills Family?

    • profile image

      Rene 8 years ago

      thanks for the guidelines, although I have to mention that back in the good ol'days one of my teachers told me about that "put" should be write we don't put we write, don't blame me, he was a very smart teacher.

    • profile image

      valerie 8 years ago

      what if it's a personal letter among family, can you put nicknames, do you have to put the last name?

    • profile image

      Annika 9 years ago

      Hello,

      How do I make sure that a private letter I send to a company is not opened by a secretary but the person him/herself?

      Do I write the name of the person first and the company name on the next line, or is there another even more safe way to secure that the letter is not opened by someone else?

      Best regards,

      Annika

    • Amber Jean profile image

      Amber Jean 9 years ago from Allston, MA

      Love the grammar hubs :-) Thanks!

    • profile image

      dafla 9 years ago

      Great hubs! I'm a grammar and spelling fanatic, having been a corporate secretary for many years. I'm glad to see someone else who is too.

    • profile image

      RTC 9 years ago

      If you are addressing a wedding invitation to a couple, and the woman is a Judge, do you say Mr. Tim and Honorable Amy Smith, or just Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or something else?

    • Blogger Mom profile image

      Blogger Mom 9 years ago from Northeast, US

      Wonderful info! It's so funny how something like this generates so much interest. I actually have more trouble with the first line - making sure I don't offend any one in my husband's very large family. There are widows, divorced women, couples with different last names - I'm never sure I'm addressing their names correctly. I'm also surprised that it's recommended to use all capital letters - I guess it feels like shouting since that's what's conveyed when writing online. In any event, such great info - thanks for writing this! =)

    • Joni Solis profile image

      Joni Solis 9 years ago from Kentwood, Louisiana

      Great informative hub. Thank you for making and posting it! I adding a link to it in my info CDs for my logo clients.

    • profile image

      Andrea 9 years ago

      Happy Hoilidays! I'm still confused about names that end in a vowel. Names on my list this year end in y, i and o. What's the correct way to address when adding the s? Thank You!

    • profile image

      Lorelei 9 years ago

      Hi Robin! I came across your article while surfing the net.I am still a little confused when it comes to addressing envelopes.Are you supposed to use all capital letters?With the "zip plus 4" are you supposed to write all 9 numbers together, spaced, or with a dash? Example: 123456789, 12345 6789, or 12345-6789.Also with P.O. boxes do you write PO BOX 123 or P.O. BOX 123?One more question, sorry :) Since I am overseas and I have family in America, how do I write out my 4th line? U.S.A, USA, UNITED STATES, or UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?Thanks to anyone who can help!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Paula,

      Addressing an envelope of a widow can be difficult. I think it would depend on the person you are writing to and the length of time their significant other has been deceased. If she still refers to herself as Mrs. John Smith, then that is how I would address the card. If not, I would address the card, Ms. Jane Smith, Ms. Smith, or Mrs. Smith depending on her preference. If she is someone you speak to regularly, ask her what she prefers.

      Even though it is proper to address cards, Mrs. John Smith when Mr. Smith is alive, I feel it is a bit archaic. Older generations may prefer the former, but personally I would rather be Mr. and Mrs. Smith. This is especially true in informal letters or cards. For wedding invitations or more formal invites, I can understand the formality of Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. I hope that helps!

    • profile image

      PAULA 9 years ago

      HOW WOULD YOU FORMALLY ADDRESS A WOMAN WHOS HUSBAND HAS BEEN DEAD 10 YEARS?? MY DAUGHTER WANTS TO ADDRESS IT TO:

      MRS. JOHN SMITH

      THAT JUST SEEMS WRONG TO ME.

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Holly,

      Yes, he's correct. You don't need a period. Good luck with the rest of your cards!

    • profile image

      holly 9 years ago

      Embarrasing as it is, I am an English major, and I've recently been addressing my Christmas cards' final line as: "Omaha, NE. 68144." My husband informed me that the correct way to send mail is just the two letter state abbreviation without a period. Is this correct?

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 9 years ago

      Good Morning Robin and Kenny!!

      So glad to see Robin's sweet words still popping up on screen!! My blessings are with you!! And Jaymee too!! Actually, all of you!! What an exciting time!!

      To answer your question, many applications/forms/purchases, etc. ask for both a "mailing" address (P.O.) and a "shipping" address (physical)!! Unless I am actually expecting a physical package at my home, and the company agrees NOT to release this information, I only use the P.O. Box!

      UPS/FedEX, etc. arrive with only the physical address showing on the outside and the P.O. on the inside of the package! The US Postal Service, as well as all the overnight shippers, honor requests that physical addresses not be disclosed.

      For those companies that do not honor the privacy act, I give them the "physical address" of the post office where my P.O. Box is located with the number of the box being the suite number!

      Having been stalked many years ago, the distinction is of critical importance to me! We live in an era of instant information, thank goodness, because we are making a living from it! There is however, a dark side for anyone who decides to do us harm!!

      There are at least 10 more reasons to keep your physical address private and I will write a Hub about them!!

      Blessings on your day!! Earth Angel!! ;-) Sapphire

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      As usual, I learn from not only your hub, but also the comments.

      I did a doubletake at jmuriset's comment; I laughed out loud! (Only towards the end of the comment, of course!) And enjoyed your rejoinder! I'm off to be her fan and catch her first hub when it is batted!

      Thanks, and bye!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Ah, thanks for the insight Sapphire! Do your packages to your house come with an address and PO Box number or just the former?

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 9 years ago

      Hello Sweet Robin!! A person living in a gated community without general mail delivery would have both a physical address AND a P.O.Box!! The U.S.Postal Service only delivers to P.O. Boxes but Fed/EX, UPS, etc. try only to deliver to physical addresses!! I LOVE what you guys are doing with HubPages!! Earth Angel Blessings Always, Sapphire Grace!!

    • Moonmaiden profile image

      Fayme Zelena Harper 10 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

      Conformists! I've been known to address my triangular shaped letters in calligraphy. I've mailed plastic soda bottles filled with toys and confetti. Postal clerks both love me and hate me.

      Email me your address Barry and I'll send you a postcard. queenofdreams@gmail.com.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 10 years ago from Queensland Australia

      its been years since i got a post card !

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      I should print this out and send it to some of the people who send correspondence to my office. We are always getting envelopes with the return address of: GP, OR. I don't live in Oregon, I have no idea what town/city "GP" is. I can understand something common like S.F., CA--but even then, kind of lazy. Good hub.

    • profile image

      Sharon 10 years ago

      I was always taught to write the city separate from the state. Did that change when we started the zipcodes. No one ever told me and I have been writing that way for ,well let's say, many years.

    • profile image

      Shirley 10 years ago

      I was taught at an early age in my secretarial career to always sign my name last on letters and greeting/sympathy cards.

      Is it correct to put to sign my husband's name before mine? e.g. Jonty and Shirley

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Emily,

      Somehow I missed your comment, sorry about that. Names do not follow irregular plural forms. The Freemans is absolutely correct. Names should not be changed when made plural except for the adding of "s" or "es". Good question. ;)

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Carissa,

      If you use the apostrophe I would say "house". If not, then I wouldn't use an apostrophe; e.g., The Fosters or The Foster's House. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Carissa 10 years ago

      Thank you for adressing this issue because I have made this mistake before when ordering address labels. How about this scenario? I ordered an address plaque for next to the front door. I requested that it say:The Foster'sWould this be correct? I am referring to the house..but wasn't sure if it also should have been "The Fosters".Thank you,Carissa 

    • profile image

      emily 10 years ago

      This has always been a problem for me because my maiden name is Freeman and saying "the Freemans" seems really bizarre but it certainly wouldn't be the Freemen.

      I use the Freeman Family, but is there a rule about this type of situation, where names involve words that do not follow the usual pluralization rules?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Tracy,

      I'm trying to think of a reason why you would have a physical address and a PO Box. Unless it's a personal mailbox (PMB), I can't think of a reason to have both on your label. I would not use a physical address on your address line; I would just use the PO Box to avoid confusion. Here's the USPS.com site on PO Boxes: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/28c2_008.html#NL508_...

      Hope that helps!

    • profile image

      Tracy 10 years ago

      I want to include a physical address and a PO Box in the address information on an envelope. Is it true that if the PO Box is below the physical address, the delivery will be made to the Po Box? I think the rule is whatever is just above the city state zip line will be the delivery address? Am I dreaming this?

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Larry and Jill,

      I looked up your first comment about writing out the name of the state with a comma and I found the following information from usps.com (United States Postal Service). They prefer that you don't write out the name of the state, instead use the abbreviation and NO comma is needed after the state. Actually, it looks as though no comma is needed even after the city. I agree that block letters are best. I wasn't able to verify your last comment, but it couldn't hurt to do as you said. Thanks for the comments. Below is the info from USPS.com.

      Name or attention line

      Company

      Suite or apartment number

      Delivery address

      City state ZIP Code

      For example:

      JANE L MILLER

      MILLER ASSOCIATES

      [STE 2006]

      1960 W CHELSEA AVE STE 2006

      ALLENTOWN PA 18104

      Automated mail processing machines read addresses on mailpieces 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. Any information below the delivery address line (a logo, a slogan, or an attention line) could confuse the machines and misdirect your mail.

      Use the following guidelines:

      *Always put the address and the postage on the same side of your mailpiece.

      *On a letter, the address should be parallel to the longest side.

      *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.

    • profile image

      Larry and Jill 10 years ago

      and if State is spelled out then a comma and a SINGLE space before the zip code. ALSO if PRINTING an address BLOCK LETTERS should be CLEARLY used with the zip code in CLEAR BLOCK NUMBERS. The Post Office uses computer scanners, sloppy hand written labeling cost all of us money!

      By the way, when absentee voting, put the County address on the return area so that they can PAY for the oversize envelope.

    • Robin profile image
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      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, Glassvisage!  Happy Holidays!

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 10 years ago from Northern California

      What a cute idea for a hub! Good timing :) And a nice tie-in to your grammar theme

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Ha! I'm glad it helped! ;)

    • profile image

      MomDLI 10 years ago

      Thanks! My husband (the English minor) and I just had a disagreement over this (and I was RIGHT!). I am printing this out to show him!

    • Robin profile image
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      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi, Scott. Yes, your #1 and #3 examples are correct. You can either say, The Stroups or The Stroup Family. However, your #2 answer is incorrect; you wouldn't use an apostrophe, The Stroup's, unless you were writing about something you own or possess, e.g., The Stroup's House; The Stroup's Dog; etc. In the case of signing your card, you are speaking of the plural Stroup: The Stroups. ;) Thanks for the question; I'm sure others were wondering too!

    • profile image

      Scott 10 years ago

      Is it the same when you are signing the card?

      Which should it be?

      1. The Stroups

      2. The Stroup's

      or just be safe and say

      3. The Stroup Family

    • Robin profile image
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      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Great question, Ralph. I think that it is the same as when addressing not married couples. If they have children, I would just add "and Family" to the end of the names. I don't think there is a rule on this one; this is just what I would do. E.g.,

      Paul Edmondson, Robin Muriset and Family

      1 Lily Lane

      San Francisco, CA 12345

      Any other suggestions?

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      What is the correct or customary to address mail to couples when the wife has kept her maiden name?

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 11 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      He's the only person I know that puts in the full nine digits.

    • Robin profile image
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      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, George. Why do you think we need the last four digits? I have never noticed my mail getting lost without those last four digits. Have you?

    • gredmondson profile image

      gredmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco, California

      I love this Hub! And, jmuriset, that was a hoot!

      Robin, this could be the year that some people start using all nine digits of their zip codes (itis sometimes referredt as the zip plus 4).

    • jmuriset profile image

      jmuriset 11 years ago from Claremont

      Yes, I got a B.A., but it should actually be called a "B.S." Robin, you could (and do!) school me any day. And I will never ever get "lie" vs. "lay." Good thing I have your hubs for quick reference! ;) xxxooo

    • Robin profile image
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      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      LOL!! You're a sarcastic and horrible sister! It's a good thing that I love you! I just want you all to know that she's the English major. She had a 4.2 at UC Davis. Yes, you can have over a 4.0.; I didn't even know this was possible. ;)

    • jmuriset profile image

      jmuriset 11 years ago from Claremont

      You're absolutely right. I always get so annoyed when people misuse apostrophe's! Either I nor Dave like it, in fact. It makes me so upset just thinking about it. I'm going to go lay down now. love you!!

    • Robin profile image
      Author

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Ha! Thanks for reading!

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 11 years ago from Scotland

      Maybe thats why my postcards never arrive until about 6 weeks after i get back home lol thanks Robin.....jimmy