I came across a great Wall Street Journal article recently about penmanship and the United States Postal Service. In today’s world, many of us don’t get to practice the art of penmanship anymore. Every day I see envelopes and parcels with addresses I have to strain to read. The scanning devices that the Post Office uses to read your addresses often can’t read bad or sloppy handwriting, and that leads to long delays when sorting the mail.
Per this article, these illegible envelopes end up at “the Salt Lake City ‘Remote Encoding Center’ of the U.S. Postal Service—a room where hundreds of clerks sit in silence, day and night, staring at America’s worst-addressed envelopes.” In 2010, a whopping 714,085,866 letters were delayed due to illegible addresses, and nearly 200 million more had to be passed along to “pick-and-poke” clerks (who actually open the mail to try to determine the correct address) or simply sent to the Dead Mail team for shredding.
Thankfully, the U.S. Postal Service has put together a list of tips on how to properly address envelopes to avoid confusion. Many of these tips will also apply to parcels sent via FedEx, UPS, or DHL, so they’re certainly worth your time. I’ve pasted a few tips that will help correct the most common errors below:
- All capital letters
- No punctuation
- 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.
- Always put the attention line on top — never below the city and state or in the bottom corner of your mailpiece
- If you can’t fit the suite or apartment number on the same line as the delivery address, put it on the line ABOVE the delivery address, NOT on the line below
- Words like “east” and “west” are called directionals and they are VERY important. A missing or a bad directional can prevent your mail from being delivered correctly
- Fancy type fonts such as those used on wedding invitations do not read well on mail processing equipment. Fancy fonts look great on your envelopes, but also may slow down your mail
- Some types of paper interfere with the machines that read addresses. The paper on the address side should be white or light in color. No patterns or prominent flecks, please! Also, the envelope shouldn’t be too glossy — avoid shiny, coated paper stock.
This message is brought to you by Goin’ Postal Tallahassee, your one-stop shop for USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL mailing services. Give us a call at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!