The Basics of How to Properly Address an Envelope



In this digital age, where people can easily send texts to their friends and family, you would be forgiven to think that there is no need to learn how to address an envelope properly.

But at times, you may need to go the old way. For instance, you may decide to send handwritten holiday cards, thank-you notes, as well as wedding invitations.

It is vital to ensure that you follow all steps correctly to ensure that you get everything right.  

After you’ve written your letter, it is time to ensure that both the recipients and senders addresses are in the right spot on the envelope, regardless of whether you are making formal communication or mailing a friendly letter

Wait! Don’t have an envelope yet?  Don’t worry, you can order envelopes online in all sizes and colors.

While it may seem obvious, addressing people by name, whether friends or formal partners, can sometimes be challenging.

After all, the names on the envelope tell who the thank-you note, the invitation, or the gift inside is meant for. You’ll definitely not want to exclude or include someone without intending.

But don’t give up on your envelope yet, here you’ll find proven ways you can follow when addressing an envelope.

Recipient’s Name

If you’re mailing a formal correspondence, be sure to use the full names of the recipient. Don’t forget to include their middle name if you know it. Some people make the mistake of using initials in street addresses. You should avoid this at all costs.

When it comes to informal correspondence, like holiday cards, thank-you notes, the use of unofficial names and initials is allowed.

Choose the Right Title

Getting the title of your recipient right is very important. It shows that you know your recipient well.

But getting the right title isn’t as easy as it seems. This is due to the many options and variables available such as Ms., Dr., Mr., etc. You can choose to omit titles if you’re sending informal notes to friends and family. However, be sure to use them when addressing elderly recipients.

However, all formal notes should include the right titles.

Below you’ll find some of the titles you can use:

Addressing Couples

When addressing couples who are known by the last name of the husband, you should refer to them as Mr. and Mrs., followed by first and last name of the husband. E.g. Mr. and Mrs. James Smith

If you’re addressing married couples who are known by different last names, refer to them as Ms. and Mr. with their full names joined by ‘’and’’. E.g. Ms.  Azzah Star and Mr. James Smith

Professional Titles

When addressing professionals such as judges, military officers, or members of the clergy, be sure to include their titles, whether it is formal or informal correspondence.

When it comes to couples, list the one with a higher ranking first followed by their names. E.g. Honorable Azzah Star and Mr. James Smith.

If both of them share the same title and use the same last name, make the title plural. E.g. Dr. Smiths or Drs. Azzah and James Smith.

If they have different titles or the same but use different last names, use their full names separated by their titles. E.g. Reverend James Smith and Dr. Azzah Star or Dr. James Smith and Dr. Azzah Star.

Addressing Families

When addressing families, be sure to specify what members of the family are invited by including their names on the envelope.

List the children under 18 years below the names of their parents in order of their age. Do not include any titles or last names.

The above method if okay if dealing with less formal correspondence aimed for the whole family. You can also address the family using the parent’s last name. e.g., James Smith’s family.

General Guidelines for Mails

Whether you’re sending a thank-you note or a business letter, you should follow these general guidelines of addressing an envelope.

You’ll surely want the recipient to know who you are and how to respond to you. Thus the need to include your contact information. This is particularly important if you want to increase your chances of hearing back from your recipient.

Usually, the sender’s name should be at the top of the upper-left corner of your envelope — the street address at the second line and state on the third.

Include the recipient’s address in the center of the envelope with the name of the recipient being on the top line, their street on the second, whereas their city, zip or state on the third line.

However, you may be required to add another line to include information about the company’s name or apartment’s address.