Gabrielle Sorto

Did you know there's a proper way to write your address? According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), there's a correct way to do it and you've likely been doing it wrong this whole time.

Although your mail has probably gotten to you with no problem, there's a proper way for your address to be written out that will ensure that your mail gets to your mailbox. It turns out the second address line you find on many online and paper address forms isn't necessary to fill out.

The right way

When you're ordering online or sending a postcard to a friend, there's usually a second line included where many people write their apartment or unit number. However, the USPS says line two doesn't exist and all of the information should be included on one line. The USPS postal addressing standards says a complete address consists of only three lines as follows:

Recipient Line
Delivery Address Line
Last Line

If you need to include a unit number for your apartment, you only need to add a comma on the delivery address line with that information. For example:

Jane Doe
123 Berry Lane, Unit B
New York, New York 12345

The wrong way

The second line you may have been adding isn't needed at all. This is the wrong way:

Jane Doe
123 Berry Lane
Unit B
New York, New York 12345

Automated systems scanning mail may have a hard time figuring out your unit number if you write out addresses this way.

When to use a second address line

The second line does have a purpose that most of us won't need to utilize, but it can be used for special circumstances. Things you can include on the second line are secondary addresses, attention designations, C/O (in care of) addresses or special instructions.

If you need to let your delivery driver know how to find your apartment, the second line is the place to do so. While you may be thinking this isn't an issue because you always receive your mail, you should try to adhere to the USPS standards so your mail will have a better chance of always getting to you.

“The closer to USPS standards you can get initially, the more likely it is for an address to be cleanly validated, and the more likely it is for your mail to arrive at its proper destination," USPS says. “Even though our software is constantly updated and improved to handle and fix improperly structured addresses, it's always best to strive for clean input data when possible."

The bottom line

Although it really doesn't make a difference, we should all try to make things easier for our postal carriers and eliminate the second address line in order to reduce confusion and make deliveries easier.

Photo by Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash



About The Author

Gabrielle Sorto

Gabrielle Sorto is an Atlanta-based freelance writer, whose work has appeared on CNN, Insider and Alloy. She loves traveling and the challenge of keeping her many houseplants alive. She can usually be found writing with an overpriced coffee in hand or with her dog, Rihanna, who is named after exactly who you think.