Letter-writing 101: How to Address an Envelope

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe on Letter Writing:

“Letters are amongst the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.”

When I was a kid, I was very fond of writing handwritten letters to my near and dear ones. As soon as my mother would be over with her writing, she would hand over the blue sheet to me and I would happily fill up the rest of the space. 

As far as my memory goes, I think it went on till my early college days and by then the telecommunication revolution gave way to faster means of communication like a landline phone, followed by pager, mobiles, text messages, WhatsApp and a whole range of other social media tools that made everyone available at the click of a button. 

Nevertheless, I used to collect the inland letters, which were received in response to our letters and these personal artefacts have truly become a cherished memory. Receiving handwritten notes from my friends and family back then showed how important I was to them. 

However, I clearly remember that my mom would always be very particular about addressing the inland or envelope properly to ensure our letter reached the intended recipient. She would follow specific guidelines that got stuck to my memory and here is an attempt to share it and hope it benefits you too.

Letter writing involves various aspects of writing

Addressing an inland letter

Typically, the Indian inland letter contains space for the following:

  1. The sender’s address is to be written in the two lines and PIN code box.
  2. The recipient’s address should be written in the 3-4 lines with the PIN code box.
  3. After writing the content in the blank parts, the inland letter has to be folded and glued, as instructed.
  4. Since it has the prescribed value of postage impressed on it, there is no need to affix an additional stamp.

Addressing an envelope

Now, let us move to addressing an envelope. An envelope should contain:

1.    The recipient’s address in the centre bottom half of the envelope.

●      Always remember to write the complete name followed by the street address, city, state and PIN code.

2.    The sender’s address is not mandatory but is highly recommended so that in case of any mistake in delivery, the return receipt will ensure it reaches the origin and the problem can be fixed.

●      Write the full name followed by the street address, city, state and PIN code

3.    A stamp in the top right corner

Addressing a formal letter

However, in the case of a formal letter, the following instructions will apply:

  1. If you are sending business correspondence, remember to address it to the company’s name.
  2. This should be followed by “ATTN:” or “c/o” with the individual’s name, for whom the post is intended.
  3. Write the street address, city, state and PIN code and finally affix the stamp.

I recall during my earlier corporate days, my maiden attempt at posting an envelope was a debacle!

I was asked to post correspondence to a company in Bangalore, and in order to impress my seniors, I had meticulously written all that was needed for the envelope to reach its destination.

Alas! I forgot to mention the company name. And true to its word, the envelope was redirected to our office address for lack of the recipient company name.

I remember my boss very patiently explained to me my mistake and asked me to re-send the envelope with the missing details. Remembering this incident even to date gives me goosebumps!

Letter Writing can also be fun!

Addressing military correspondences

To move on, there are some sectors where posting envelopes require special care. To illustrate, while preparing an envelope for a military address, one should exercise extra confidentiality. The addresses are generally of the format:

  1. Rank and Name
  2. Unit
  3. Army Post Office Number

Make sure all of the above has to be specific.

Addressing international envelopes

For sending regular international envelopes, the address format typically remains the same. The only addition is the country name towards the end. For some countries, you may have to write the ZIP code in front of the city and country. So please remember to confirm the format to make sure the post reaches the destination.

Value of Postage Stamps to be affixed

This is generally the tougher part since we all know about their placement. 

The minimum value is a 5 Rupee postal stamp that can be procured from the Post Office. However, as the weight increases, different tariffs apply. For instance, posting an envelope locally and weighing up to 50 grams will cost INR 15/-. However, if this has to reach a destination, which falls between 1001 to 2000 kilometres, then the tariff is INR 35/-. 

To send an international letter, the stamp value can vary anywhere between INR 10/- to INR 20/-.  

Please refer to the postal department to ensure you have affixed the correct value of the postage stamp or else the letter be returned to you or else the receiver will have to pay for the missing stamp. Don’t you think that will be quite an embarrassing situation.

To summarise, with the applicable stamp value, correct addresses for both the sender and the recipient, and the exact placement of all three on the envelope, your letter is ready to be posted!

Online Writing Class by Ruskin Bond

In current times, online writing classes are a boon for beginners learning to write. It is believed that you can be good at writing if you are disciplined, have an eye for detail, strong vocabulary and above all a passion for reading. 

So sit back and use this time to not just learn but also read books of different genres so that while writing is your basic nature, you can nurture it by following the above tips.

At the same time, if learning from experts is your preference, we have just the right person for you. Learn writing online with Ruskin Bond in his unluclass and learn from him first-hand the art of writing. He has been a recipient of Padma Shri (1999) 1999 and the Padma Bhushan (2014).

This unluclass class takes you through Ruskin Bond’s journey where he shares valuable lessons. Subscribe and learn writing online now!

Now face no doubts when writing and sending a letter! We’ll make sure you cover up all important writing skills required for the task!

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