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How to Mail a Letter

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Mailing a letter– getting it from here to there

It normally takes 2-5 days for us to deliver First-Class letters anywhere in the country. (How cool would it be if you could travel first class across the country for just the cost of a Forever Stamp?) There are a few things you can do though, to help make sure it gets there as quickly as possible.


Have the right postage

Forever Stamps cover the postage for a one-ounce, First-Class letter, but how much is an ounce? About four sheets of paper and the envelope should have you just under the limit. (You probably have a relative or friend who would love a four-page letter from you!)


Use the right size envelope

Envelopes must be rectangular and be a minimum of 3 ½” high by 5” long, up to a maximum of 6 1/8” high by 11 ½” long. They must also be at least 0.007 inch thick. (If you have a ruler that measures that small, I’m impressed! Otherwise, think of the thickness of an index card.) They can be up to a ¼” thick.


Address it properly

The address must be written parallel to the wider edge. Place it in the front center. Our machines read from the bottom up. Try to leave a space about 5/8” blank at the bottom of the envelope. That’s where we print a barcode to tell our computers what the address is. The bottom line should have the city, state and ZIP. The next line up should have the address. The top line should be the recipient. Put your return address in the upper left corner.


Have strong contrast between the ink and envelope

Dark envelopes might be pretty, but they are difficult to read. Use light colored envelopes and write with dark ink. Print in clear, separate letters. Glittery inks reflect on the machine’s lens and creates issues with properly reading the address.


Almost ready to send

Don’t forget the stamp! Not sure where it goes? When you send a text, you use your thumb to go up and to the right – above the keyboard to press the ‘send’ button. Now – use that same thumb to go up and to the right to press the stamp into the corner! (Think of it as an old-school send button! 😉)


If you have any questions, you can always ask a clerk at your local Post Office location. You can also learn more at, or by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS.


Patrick O’Brien, USPS Eastern Area Writer/Editor