Addressing an envelope

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Addressing an envelope correctly is very important as an incorrectly addressed letter is harder to sort and may take longer to reach its destination.

Once you have mailed your letter and it reaches the mail centre it will be sorted by machines. Although these machines are very clever, they work best if your handwriting is neat and the address is set out properly. Follow these instructions to ensure that your letter goes to the right place every time:

Addressing the front of your envelope

On the front of the envelope you are telling the postman exactly where to take the letter. The name on the letter is more for household use, to ensure that the right person opens the letter once it has been delivered. If you follow the step-by-step instructions below, your letter will always reach the right place and the right person in the least possible time.

  1. The name of the person to whom you are sending your letter

  2. Street address (house number and street name)

  3. Suburb and state / territory in CAPITAL letters

  4. Postcode (in postcode squares, if they are provided and the address is handwritten, or after the state / territory on the last line)

  5. Stick the postage stamp in the top right-hand corner.

Addressing the front of your envelope

Addressing the back of your envelope

It is important to write your return address on the back of your envelope in case the letter is accidentally delivered to the wrong address. It is also helpful in case the person you sent your letter to has moved house and doesn't live there any more. This way your letter will be returned to you and you can either keep it or put it in a new envelope and send it on to the correct address.

The return address should be written neatly at the top of the envelope (on the flap that folds over) and should not take up too much room, or it might be mistaken for the recipient's address rather than the return address.

  1. Your name

  2. Your street address

  3. Your suburb and state / territory in CAPITAL letters

  4. Your postcode.

Addressing the back of your envelope

Addressing tips

Always remember to:

Air Mail sticker
  • Write carefully in clear, neat print.

  • Include the postcode! Handwrite it in the postcode squares. Remember that it never hurts to double check that you have the correct postcode.

  • Keep the left-hand margin of the address straight.

  • Make sure there are no punctuation marks or underlined words.

  • Do not draw any doodles or scribbles on the envelope that will confuse the machines or the postie reading the address.

  • If you are sending a letter overseas, remember to write the name of the country clearly and attach an "Air Mail" sticker.

How to abbreviate state and territory names

Rather than writing out the full state or territory name on the front of your envelope it can be abbreviated to two or three letters. These abbreviations are generally easy to remember because the letters relate to the names. To help you address envelopes, try to memorise the abbreviations listed below.

  • ACT – Australian Capital Territory
  • NSW – New South Wales
  • NT – Northern Territory
  • QLD – Queensland
  • SA – South Australia
  • TAS – Tasmania
  • VIC – Victoria
  • WA – Western Australia.
Fun facts about envelopes

Fun facts about envelopes

  • In the Chinese culture, red envelopes containing money are given as gifts at weddings and for holidays such as the New Year. Have you ever received anything exciting in the post?

  • In past centuries, due to the cost of paper, letters were merely folded and sealed with wax instead of using an envelope. It is said that it was the French King Louis XIV who popularised the use of envelopes.

  • It is thought that the ancient Babylonians devised the first "envelope", which was made out of clay. That was around 5000 years ago. These clay envelopes were baked around clay tablets inscribed with messages. The envelope would then have to be broken open to read the message inside. Imagine how much a clay envelope would cost to post now! How would you fit it into a letter box?

Address it right

Address it right

Do you know how to correctly address an envelope? Click, drag and drop to show how it's done!