Even in the digital age where email, text, messaging and social media allow people to communicate instantaneously, it is sometimes necessary to mail a traditional letter. Some people even prefer mailing letters because it is nostalgic or romantic. Of course, sending letters requires a specific set of skills. You need to know how to properly address a letter, especially if the address contains a suite number.
A destination address that includes a suite number should contain three lines. The first line for the recipient's name; the second line for the street address and suite number; and the third line for the city, state and zip code. Never write a suite number on the third line.
General Requirements for Addresses
All letters that ship through the United States Postal Service (USPS) or a private courier service like United Parcel Service (UPS) or Federal Express (FedEx) should bear complete addresses. Generally, this includes a destination address printed near the middle of the envelope. This destination address should include the recipient’s name on the first line; the street number and street name on the second line; and the city name, state name and postal zip code on the third line. A correctly addressed letter should also contain a return address located in the upper left corner of the envelope. The return address, which allows the post office to return a letter that is undeliverable or refused by the recipient, should use the same three line format as the destination address.
Suites and Apartment Numbers
Some addresses contain additional information. Usually this means that the destination is part of a larger building or cluster of offices that share the same street address. In these cases, the destination should include an apartment or suite number, which will allow the person delivering the letter to pinpoint its precise destination. The apartment number (abbreviated apt) or suite number (abbreviated ste and pronounced “sweet”) should always occupy the second line of the destination address, following the street name and set apart using a comma. For example:
- Recipient Name
- Street Number Street Name, Suite Number
- City Name, State Zip code
Suite Number Position
The location of the suite number on the envelope is very important. Never write the suite number on the third line (or below the second at all). Because the post office reads destination addresses from the bottom of the envelope up, they may misconstrue a suite number or apartment number written below the second line as a street number without a street name. If this happens, there could be a delay in the delivery of your letter. If there is insufficient space on the second line for the suite number or apartment number, you should write that number above the second line to avoid this problem.
Writing and sending letters through the mail is sometimes necessary, and it can also be fun. By following the proper protocol for addressing your letters, you can ensure that your mail will reach your recipient without delay.
Melissa Mayer is an eclectic writer with a teaching background. She has written a non-fiction YA book intended for use by schools and libraries (Coping with Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape) and is currently writing two others on topics related to mental health. Prior to freelancing, Melissa worked as a public school teacher and earned teaching license endorsements in early childhood (ECE), elementary (ELE), biology and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). She also served as her campus testing administrator and GT/TAG representative. Her writing clips include Thermo Scientific, SomaLogic, Mental Floss, Healthline, the Society for Neuroscience, Bitch Media, ParentMap, Hip Mama and Geez.