How To Mail A Letter

Be sure to write neatly when addressing your envelope so your letter will reach its correct destination.
Include the following three items:

  • ADDRESS: This is the name and address of the person (recipient) you are sending the letter to. On separate lines write:
    • Recipient's Full Name
    • Street Address
    • City, State and Zip Code
Use postal abbreviations when writing the state. Postal abbreviations are written in capital letters without periods or other punctuation. The postal abbreviation for North Carolina is NC.      Return to example
  • RETURN ADDRESS: This is the information about the sender of the letter. In the top left corner on separate lines write:
    • Your full name
    • Your Street Address
    • Your City, State and Zip Code         Return to example
  • STAMP: In the top right corner of the envelope you place a postage stamp. This pays for the delivery of the letter.

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How to Send a Letter makes mailing a letter easier than ever.
With, you have all the functions of the Post Office™ right on your desktop—including purchasing postage. We make it easy to send a letter by printing USPS postage, a delivery address and a return address directly to your envelope. even checks your delivery address against the master USPS database, eliminating the hassle of letters being sent to an incorrect or undeliverable address.

And when you print First Class Mail postage for a letter using, you automatically qualify for a postage discount that is not available at the Post Office. The USPS provides access to the “Metered Mail Rate” for all online postage vendors. The Metered Mail Rate is currently three cents cheaper than the First Class Mail rate at the Post Office (currently $0.49).

How to Mail a Letter Using
Special Note: The process described below is for printing postage directly on an envelope. can also print postage directly on adhesive labels (NetStamps) with the labels being used exactly like regular postage stamps.

1. Measure the dimensions of your envelope.
Remember, even if your mailpiece is in a standard-sized envelope, it may not be classified as a letter. Bulky, square or irregular-sized envelopes are not machinable—meaning they cannot be run through USPS’s automatic sorting machines. In these cases, you’ll have to pay a surcharge for the USPS to process your irregular mailpiece.

USPS defines a letter by the following dimensions:
Height: Between 3 ½ and 6 ⅛ inches
Length: Between 5 and 11 ½ inches
Thickness: No thicker than ¼ inch
Weight: 3.5 ounces or lighter

2. Weigh your letter.
Place your envelope on the scale to ensure you have the correct weight before proceeding to the next steps. Letters heavier than 3.5 ounces should be mailed in Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes, which can accommodate up to 70 pounds.

3. Verify Return and Delivery Addresses.
In, click ”Envelopes“ in the navigation bar. Here, you’ll check that your Return Address and Delivery Address are is correct to print. automatically runs all addresses through the USPS database to ensure correct street names, directional information and ZIP codes are accurate for sorting and delivery. Remember, you can add a company logo to your Return Address when printing directly on an envelope!

4. In the “Mailpiece” dropdown menu, select “Letters.” automatically sets the letter weight to 1 ounce, so if your piece weighs more than 1 ounce, input the actual weight here.

5. Select your “Mail Class” and add any Special Services needed.
Once you’ve input addresses and weight, you’ll be able to select a “Mail Class.” Most letters mailed in the U.S. use First Class Mail for delivery. You will also have the option of adding insurance and choosing a mailing date for the future (default mailing date will be today’s date). In addition, the “Cost Code” feature appears if you choose to keep track of your postage expenses on in

6. Choose your envelope size in the “Print Details.”
The “Printing On” dropdown will offer a variety of envelope sizes. Remember, a standard business envelope is #10 (4 ⅛ × 9 ½ inches).

7. Preview and print your envelope.
View your envelope in the “Preview” window before printing. We suggest using the “Print Sample” feature if this is the first time you’ve printed envelopes in your printer to ensure the print alignment matches.
If the preview looks good, load your envelope into your printer and click “Print Postage.” (If there’s a problem with printing, it’s fast and easy to reprint at no extra charge!) Once your envelope has been printed, the postage value will be deducted from your account balance.

8. Send your letter!
Once printed, you can now either drop your letter with postage in a USPS collection box (blue box on street corners) in your local neighborhood or hand the letter to your USPS mail carrier as they deliver your daily mail. You can also drop it off at any Post Office.

My Teenage Son Does Not Know How To Mail A Letter, And I Blame Technology

I’m not sure who to blame. His mother, perhaps, or the public school system. But it turns out that my son—days away from graduating from high school—does not know how to send mail through the U.S. Postal Service.

I am not making this up.

The boy has a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop, does some basic coding, is pretty good at computer-assisted design and gets excellent grades. He can bang out what appears to be 60 words per minute using only his thumbs. But a letter? Forget about it—he doesn’t even know how to properly address an envelope.

The Mysteries Of Snail Mail
The only reason I discovered this is because his mother and I told him it was appropriate—and highly profitable—to send graduation announcements to his grandparents, aunts and uncles.

I witnessed the entire confounding process.

First, he wrote the mailing address on the top right of the envelope—and only the address, no name. I corrected him, fatherly, handing him a fresh envelope: “The mailing address goes in the center. It has to be personalized.”

Success! I then handed him a stamp. This clearly baffled him. The notion of a physical stamp seemed like witchcraft.

“A stamp is required,” I continued.

He placed it, carefully, in the top left corner of the envelope.

“That’s not where it goes! Don’t you know how to mail a letter?” I was beginning to lose patience.

We started again—though I told him he owed me $.50 for the ruined stamp. This time, he printed—his penmanship is atrocious—the name and address, correctly, in the center of the envelope. Next, he carefully placed the stamp, level straight, on the top right, as I instructed.

So far so good: “Now put the return address on the top left.” I said. “Print clearly, please.”

He stared back at me. “What’s a return address?”

He’s almost ready to register with the Selective Service and he doesn’t know what a return address is!

I breathed in, deeply. “A return address is your address. Our address.”

“They’re not sending this envelope back to me, are they?” he asked.

“It’s required by the Post Office!” I barked.

He rolled his eyes with an obscene level of teenage skepticism, though was wise enough to comply.

I took the completed letter from him, deciding it best that I personally take it to the post office.

What’s Happening Here?
How is it possible that the world’s most connected, most tech-savvy generation ever does not know how to mail a letter? What else don’t they know?

I stopped at the doorway, inspired. “Get your computer. Go to (turns out it’s really USPS).”

If he saw for himself—on the screen—how to properly mail a letter, maybe he’d get it, I thought.

Unfortunately, the Postal Service doesn’t know it has a problem here. We couldn’t find any instructions at all on how to mail a letter. Not from the USPS home page, nor from its “Quick Tools” section, nor the SEND MAIL tab, nor even from the FAQs—including the “common questions” section.

“Google it. Google ‘how to address a letter‘.”

The results came back instantly. The very first entry was from the Walter L. Parsley Elementary School. There, with text and pictures, were simple instructions for addressing a letter.

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