How to Address an Envelope Properly (Tips and Etiquette)

Addressing an envelope, this article will demonstrate how to correctly address envelopes and guarantee that addressees are given accurate titles in all business, formal, and informal settings. Labels can be opulent and flowery or official and sleek. You won’t ever again have a letter go missing!

How to Address an Envelope Properly (Tips and Etiquette)

The most efficient form of long-distance communication in the past was letter writing. It’s more difficult to understand how thrilling receiving a letter in the mail must have been for people in the pre-telephone and pre-internet era.

The front door was knocked on, and the gate squeaked. When you open it, you’ll see a happy postman standing there with a sealed envelope.

The person at the door would have bowed down to read the letter’s addressee as their first action. If the title and address did their jobs correctly,

The recipient would then take the letter to them or open it, most often with the rest of the family gathered around watching them expectantly.

Doesn’t this seem much better than having an email box stuffed with spam?

The History of Letters and Envelopes

The Chinese architect fashioned the first piece of the envelope in 200 BC. However, these straightforward protective wrappings were employed to transmit financial gifts rather than messages.

Around the same period, wealthy Japanese men sent gifts to surviving family members using early versions.

At the time, replicas from China and Japan were said to have been constructed quite shabbily by hand.

The ability to convey messages in a paper envelope didn’t come about until the Middle Ages when production methods had advanced to that point.

But even then, the design was merely an additional sheet of paper folded over the message and wax-sealed.

The nobility and senior Church members frequently exchanged messages of this nature. Beeswax, resin, and a coat of arms were used to create the seal, which was occasionally sealed with a ring.

What Comes First in an Address?

What Comes First in an Address?

The sender’s address should be positioned in the upper-left corner. Here are some things to add:

  • The first line should contain the sender’s name.
  • If you’re mailing from a firm, put the business’s name on the next line.
  • The street name and building number should then be written down.
  • The city, state, and ZIP code for the address should be on the last line.

Who Goes First when Addressing an Envelope?

In the top left corner, place the return address. The recipient’s address should then be inscribed on the bottom half of the envelope, slightly centered. Put the stamp in the upper right corner to complete.

How do You Address an Envelope Step by Step?

  • In the top left corner, place the return address.
  • The recipient’s address should then be inscribed on the bottom half of the envelope, slightly centered.
  • The stamp in the upper right corner is to complete.

Although the envelope usually has two addresses, only the recipient’s address is legally necessary. Although it isn’t required, it is advised to provide the sender’s address.

The absence of a return address makes it impossible for the post office to send the letter back to address any issues if there are any that prohibit delivery of the letter.

The Use of Abbreviations

Use the receivers’ full names (Rebecca rather than Becca) in formal writing, as well as their middle name if you are aware of addressing an envelope of it.

In names or street addresses, avoid using initials or abbreviations (e.g., Avenue vs. Ave. or Apartment vs. Apt.).

Using informal names (if that’s what the person goes by) and abbreviations are definitely allowed for less formal writing (personal thank-you notes, holiday cards, etc.).

Choosing the Correct Titles

Due to the many possibilities and variations, this can be one of the trickiest aspects of addressing envelopes.

 (Note: It’s acceptable to leave out titles in casual letters to close friends and family, but it’s never a bad idea to include them if you’re unsure.)

Check out our comprehensive advice here if you’re working on formal wedding invites. The standard guidelines are provided below.

Considering Women When Addressing

  • Miss Rachel Harris should represent girls under the age of 18.
  • Women who are married or over 18 and yet using their maiden name should address themselves as Ms. (Ms. Anna Smith).
  • The aforementioned rule also applies to widows, but it is customary to address them as Mrs. and her late husband’s first and last name (Mrs. Henry Jones).
  • It is customary to use Mrs. followed by her husband’s first name when addressing a married woman who uses her husband’s last name (but his name is not printed on the envelope). However, using her first name is also acceptable and may feel more appropriate depending on the situation (Mrs. Henry Jones or Mrs. Anna Jones).
  • It might be challenging to address divorced and separated women with the appropriate title, but if you’re unclear about their preference, Ms. is typically the best choice. Ms. is undoubtedly correct if they have adopted their maiden name once again. Neither Ms. Anna Smith (maiden name) nor Ms. Anna Jones (married name) should be followed by the husband’s first name.


When Addressing Couples

  • Couples who live together who are not married and who are of the same gender should also abide by this guideline.

Whenever two names don’t fit on one line, write them separately without the “and” (last name frequently listed alphabetically the person you’re closest to can go first, or same-gender couples).

(Ms. Esther Molly (following on the next line 🙂 Ms. Elizabeth Sams) and Mr. George Swan or Ms. Emily Wood).

  • Mr. and Mrs. Henry Jones, for example, would be appropriate for married couples who both use the husband’s last name.
  • The order is not strictly followed, but married couples with different last names should use Ms. and Mr. with their complete names united by “and” (Ms. Blessing Bob and Mr. Jackson James).

When Using Professionals Titles

To the best of your knowledge, when addressing professional and informal correspondence, titles should be provided for doctors, judges, members of the clergy, or military leaders.

  • Most titles can be rendered plural if both parties have the same title and the same last name (e.g., The Doctors Mike or Drs. Huston and Henry John).
  • Couples should list themselves first as “The Honourable Anna Jones and Mr. Henry Jones,” for example, with the highest-ranked title written first.
  • When both parties have different titles or the same title but different last names, separate each complete name with the appropriate title, followed by the preposition and (e.g., The Reverend Henry Jones and Dr. Ann Jones or Dr. Henry Mike and Dr. Ann Smith).


You now have all the information you need when addressing an envelope properly, there are only two things to keep in mind if you wish to start writing your friends and family letters by hand again:

Leave yourself lots of time to learn and perfect your letter, and the recipients will adore getting it.

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