The art of the envelope

by Rachel B Posted on December 01, 2010

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Do you go to your happy place when you see a handwritten envelope in your mailbox? Do you love sending and receiving cards and letters? Then you’ll appreciate the below set of  guidelines on how to formally address envelopes. This etiquette applies to all types of communications like thank you cards, birthday invitations, party invitations, and baby shower invitations.

I am so excited to apply my envelope addressing know-how that I have purchased a brand new pen set dedicated to letter writing, card sending, and invitations only. No shopping lists allowed!  That’s how nerdy and excited I am – and what’s now to be excited about? Want to join me? Check out the art of envelopes!


• Avoid abbreviations in your social stationery. Non-professional titles such as Mr., Mrs., Jr., etc. are exceptions.
• Spell out professional titles such as “Doctor”.
• Do not use symbols for words like “and.”

• House numbers should be written in numerical form (1, 2, 3…). The number “one,” is the only exception. When it stands alone, spell it out (example: One Maple Drive).
• Apartment numbers, suite numbers and zip codes should be in numerical form.
• Do not abbreviate the names of states.
• Avoid abbreviating address words like “Street,” “Boulevard” or “Avenue.”

Return Addresses
• If you are using formal stationery, print the return address on the closed back flap of your envelope.
• The recipient’s address should be centered on the front of the envelope.
• The envelope’s ink color and font style should match what you used for the invitation or announcement inside.
• Your name should be excluded from the return address.

• We recommend addressing your envelopes with black or dark blue ink.

Stuffing Envelopes
• Stuff your envelopes with the printed side of your invitations and announcements facing the flap of the envelope. This will ensure that the printed side of the announcement or invitation faces the recipient when he or she opens the stationery.

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  1. Joey Says:

    Great tips Rachel. My writing is rather sloppy, so I go the type route. Sometimes I’ll write a short note. I LOVE receiving happy-fun mail. I love sending letters as well.
    I really like Shutterfly’s stationary and address labels. I like the tip about when you put your greating in the envelope, to make sure the printed side is facing them. I have always done the opposite in case i lick the envelope too much. LOL – I’m going to change it this year.

  2. rsheedy Says:

    Wow, this is wonderful information! I always look forward to Christmas because of the awesome mail. I like being rewarded for checking my mailbox. :)

  3. Earl J Says:

    I love practical stuff like this. Thanks for doing it — I’m glad to have a supply of Shutterfly “Thank You” cards, plus ones using my photographs. Email has its place, but a place with limits, I think.

  4. AnnAbbott Says:

    It is nice to learn about some old fashion etiquette in this digital age. Thanks Rachel!

  5. BarbaraJ Says:

    WOW, it is so nice to see you advice and the correct way to address envelopes and return addresses.

more about Rachel B

Thank you for visiting “Picture More”, Shutterfly's Community Blog. My name is Rachel, and I come from a long line of photo enthusiasts. My grandparents kept a large (and heavy!) collection of family photo albums in their living room, which my sister and I loved looking through. My mother continued the tradition by becoming a hobby photographer (phrases like “smile, “hold that pose” and “let me get my camera” were a constant part of our lives). Now my sister and I are avid camera fans. She takes beautiful pictures of her children, and I enjoy capturing the many far-away places my husband and I visit. What I love about Shutterfly is that it helps me turn my photos into meaningful keepsakes like photo books, calendars, and photo gifts (I love my coasters, posters, mug and mouse pad!). My memories are now a part of my everyday life, not living in a shoe box or hard drive. And what I love about "Picture More" is that it will help us get even more creative with our pictures. I'm excited to exchange ideas with all of you!

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