How to Speed Up the Mail You Send

Author: Master R Stell Date: March 27, 2002

Perhaps spurred by competition from private delivery services, the U.S. Postal Service has come a long way. It's still not perfect so follow these guidelines to avoid postal errors and speed your outgoing delivery:

  1. Include only the city, state and ZIP+4 code on the last line of the address. In particular, make sure that nothing is placed beneath the ZIP code. Most mail is scanned by machines these days, and if phone numbers or business codes are written beneath the ZIP code, the machines may misread the address, possibly slowing delivery. If you're ordering or designing mailing labels, check to be certain that they conform to the above points.
  2. Use ZIP+4 codes on all addresses. You can find ZIP+4 codes at the U.S. Postal Service website,
  3. When addressing by hand, write as legibly as possible. Ideally, addresses should be typed or printed.
  4. Write addresses in UPPER CASE LETTERS to help the machines that scan the addresses.
  5. Include proper abbreviations for the following:
    - apartment = APT
    - suite number = STE
    -  north = N
    - south = S
    - east = E
    - west = W
    - avenue = AVE
    - drive = DR
    - road = RD
    - lane = LN
    - place = PL
    - court = CT
    - street = ST
  6. Don't forget to include PO Box numbers or rural/highway contract routes and box numbers when needed.
  7. Always attach proper postage. Use the U.S. Postal Service's postage calculator.
  8. Compare priority and regular rates to find the better value.
  9. Contact the person or people to whom you're mailing to determine whether they prefer delivery to a Post Office Box or to a home address. This can avoid delays when mailing to people who check their PO Boxes infrequently.
  10. Determine whether you need overnight delivery. Overnight envelopes and packages are available through the Post Office as well as private delivery companies. Make sure that you check out weights, rates, and times of delivery. In general, the Post Office does not offer delivery schedules that are as quick and dependable as the large private companies. If you need to have a package at a destination by a certain time, make sure that delivery is guaranteed.

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