The website says the package was delivered, but it’s not on your doorstep. You check your mailbox and it’s not there either. Odd. You even go down to the management office to see if they signed for it. Nope. So, where is it?
Learning the proper way to write your address is probably one thing you didn’t put a whole lot of consideration into when you moved into your new place. And why would you? You know your address. You can find where you live. So, why can’t the Amazon delivery driver?
Well, the answer is a little more complicated than that. There’s a right way and a wrong way to write your address on envelopes, delivery forms, takeout orders and anything else you want to be delivered to your doorstep.
So, how do you write an address?
The U.S. Postal Service has specific codes and designations for apartments, condos, penthouses, etc., in order to streamline their delivery process. Usually, your friendly neighborhood postal carrier will already be familiar with your neighborhood, but that’s only if your letter or package even gets that far.
Addresses are scanned and matched in a distribution center long before it ever makes it to the truck, and if the address on the label doesn’t match the post office’s records, it could sit in the warehouse or worse — it could be marked “return to sender.”
That’s frustrating enough, but never more than when your brother-in-law asks if you received a gift he sent, and you don’t want to hurt his feelings. So, you lie and say you got it and you love it, only for the gift to land back on his doorstep a month later unopened and undelivered, hypothetically speaking, of course. Because it’s not like that happened recently or anything.
Write it right or write it again
Simply put, the correct way to write your address on an envelope or online order form is the way it appears on your lease or your utility bill. It seems like a no-brainer, but you can spot the differences. For example, this is how it should look:
L. Wood Blues
1060 West Addison St. Apt 5B
Chicago, IL 60634
Those three lines contain all the information the post office needs to deliver your mail. It will recognize your name and match it to your street address and apartment number in the second line, followed by the city, state and ZIP Code in the third. That’s how it shows up in their systems, and that’s how it should show up on your order forms. But writing your address as it is below will complicate matters:
Mr. & Mrs. Met
41 Seaver Way
Queens, NY 11368
There are a couple of issues here. First off, a shipping company’s automated systems may not be able to match your name to that address without your address and unit number in the same line. That can slow down your delivery window. Additionally, even though Queens is a borough in New York City, the third line of that address should read New York, NY because the ZIP Code is what will be used to determine the specific borough.
And this isn’t limited strictly to New York. Cities all over the country have sections and neighborhoods that are used as shorthand for locals. And even though your mail carrier or delivery person may know the difference, the address isn’t intended for them to decipher. It still has to navigate a massive network of computers and distribution centers before it even gets that far.
2B or not 2B? What’s the difference?
Do you live in a single-family home? Or is it an apartment? Maybe it’s a condo? Or a development with multiple buildings on the property? It might seem like a quibbling detail or nitpicking, but it goes back to what the post office or delivery service already has in its computer systems.
If what’s on the label doesn’t match what’s on the computer, you’re not going to get your organic sea salt scrub face mask … again hypothetically speaking, of course. These are just a few of the most common designators assigned by the US Postal Service, but there are a whole lot more:
Confused yet? It can get even more complicated than that. Let’s add another designation to the address, so this time it’s complete.
Phil E. Fan
1100 Pattinson St. BLDG B, APT # 9
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Here you have a street address, a specific building number and an apartment. Your sense of symmetry may compel you to break up that second line so it’s easier to read. But again, all the relevant information is exactly where it needs to be for your stuff to land on your doorstep.
Getting the address right
Your mail carrier will still be able to deliver your birthday cards and catalogs, and your delivery driver will still call if they can’t find your doorstep. But all big things come down to small details. And knowing how to write an address can save you from some big headaches and huge hassles down the line.