It’s Okay to Say “I Don’t Know,” So Long As You Find Out!

January 09, 2009 

Fort Myers, Cape Coral FL -  Why is it that some people won’t stop to ask directions when they get lost? It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Finding out is what’s important—discovering the complete, accurate information you need to get where you’re going.

The same is true with your mail. About 14 percent of Americans (45 million people) move each year, so for many of us it’s almost impossible to keep up with the addresses of every family member, friend, and colleague. It’s okay not to know—but it’s absolutely vital to find out before you drop your letter in the mailbox, counting on the Postal Service to get it delivered.

Here are tips on addressing your mail that will help the Postal Service deliver for you!

  • When addressing an envelope or package, type the address or print it legibly, in permanent ink, and in capital letters if possible, so it can be read at arm’s length. Do not use commas or periods. And remember: If the address can’t be read, it can’t be delivered.
  • Use a Post Office Box or a street address, but don’t use both. For the street address, always include the apartment or unit number, building number, and any other information that helps distinguish the location.
  • Sometimes a directional (N, E, SW) is the only thing that distinguishes the destination from another address just like it clear across town (“310 SMITH ST N” vs. “310 SMITH ST S”). Make sure to include it when applicable.
  • Save the last line for the city, state, and ZIP Code. Use the abbreviation for the state if you know it. If you don’t know the ZIP Code, go to and click on “Find a ZIP Code.” At the end, the website will give you a complete delivery address in the best possible format for your use.
  • Always include a return address in the upper left-hand corner on the same side of the mail piece as the delivery address. Make sure it’s complete, too.

If you dial the wrong telephone number, you don’t get the correct person on the other end. The same holds true for your mail. One wrong digit in a ZIP Code can be the difference between Connecticut and California. It’s okay not to know … as long as you find out.

For more information on proper addressing, or to check your ZIP Code or state abbreviation, visit your local Post Office, call 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) or go to the Postal Service web site at

To schedule a presentation for our community, club or group on how the Postal Service brings the Post Office to your home or office computer, call 239-573-9638.

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An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation — 146 million homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail.

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