Author Topic: Return address - top left or back?  (Read 561 times)

Offline tiffany.c.a

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Return address - top left or back?
« on: December 23, 2023, 04:31:41 PM »
Was at the post office a couple days ago buying stamps. First of all, I can’t believe they were out of Christmas stamps. Maybe that’s a good thing - maybe people are moving back towards sending physical cards. Maybe the post office will make a profit this year. Or, maybe they didn’t print as many.

Anyway, the employee (very nice, have known her for years) was mentioning the number of letters getting returned because the sender put their return address on the back of the envelope instead of the top left. Sometimes (somehow) that makes the machine read the return address as the send to, instead of the recipient’s address. She pointed to some letters on the counter that she was going through trying to correct.

So something to think about for people sending cards, exchanges, etc. Some like to put the return address on the back and use the front to go all out with decorating. Or people feel it looks more elegant for formal invitations. Everyone makes their own decision about it, just raising the topic here for people to consider. (I’m sure it’s been raised in a previous thread.)

Especially after seeing the employee’s frustration, I went ahead and put my return address on the front top left corner of my exchanges. I have decided to consider it as a design boundary that needs a design solution to creatively incorporate it. Just as if I’m in a class and the teacher gives an assignment with certain parameters.

I’m not sure if the employee was exaggerating because she was in the middle of the frustrating task or it was really happening frequently. To be fair and consider the post office’s perspective, I realize that to some extent we are asking the post office to accommodate our creative outlet on an envelope that’s outside of their required format, AND we want it for the price of regular first class. And it usually arrives OK. (I know, there’s non-machinable stamps as well. That’s a whole different topic.)

But I wonder - as things get more and more automated, if there will likely be less and less bending to accommodate because, absent a human somewhere in the process, it won’t be possible.

Don’t want to end on a down note. Happy writing! Looking forward to future exchanges.

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2023, 12:25:52 AM »
This is great information!  I tend to put my return address on the back of the envelope.  I’m going to stop doing that!

Janis

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2023, 02:43:53 PM »
Fabulous and timely post Tiffany! @tiffany.c.a I was going to mention something about this as one of my New Year’s resolutions is to design a return address solution once and for all!

I saw @schin post her gorgeous envelopes on instagram and saw her return address was written in the center back of the envelope. Sadly, this significantly increases the chances of the envelope getting returned. The majority (like over 90%) of the mail never gets touched by human hands. It goes through the optical reader. If the envelope goes through with the address on the back (the lower down the worse off), the reader can pick it up as the delivery address. The only checking mechanism is it searches for a stamp as well. But sometimes it still happens.

A couple of years ago, I had 5 Christmas cards returned to me because the zip code was on the bottom line by itself rather than on the city and state line. That is the only reason I & the lady at the post office could think of because all the addresses were correct. The PO has since relaxed this guidance as they have written in their guidelines that you can carry the zip to the bottom line if necessary.

I was actually thinking of creating a mini class for “left hand corner return address design.” Not sure if anyone would be interested except us calligraphers though.  ;D

Thank you for this very important post. We spend so much time calligraphing envelopes, it’s disheartening to get them returned.  :-*
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Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2023, 03:07:14 PM »
Fabulous and timely post Tiffany! @tiffany.c.a I was going to mention something about this as one of my New Year’s resolutions is to design a return address solution once and for all!

May I suggest an embosser? Don't think the machines can read these.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2023, 03:15:24 PM »
I like the idea of an embosser but wonder if it creates enough of an impression that if it did have to get returned, it could be read. Maybe.

Also, forgot to add my local post office was also out of Christmas stamps the week before Christmas. Thankfully I had pre-ordered mine online in late November. But I underestimated how many international ones I would need and ended up having to use the sunflower ones. It’s strange they would run out because it’s not like people don’t buy Christmas stamps every year. They ran out last year, too. I feel like the PO needs a new CEO.
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Offline handmadeletters

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2024, 10:51:45 AM »
Tiffany, glad you brought this up.

I usually put my return address on the back flap. I would say 25% of the time, those envelopes come back to me because the machine reads my return address as the recipient address, regardless of the stamp being where it's supposed to be. In fact, one Christmas card just came back to me, even though it was lettered the same as the rest that were mailed successfully.

Good idea to work our return address into the design of the front of the envelope. Looking forward to trying this out for the Valentines exchange!

Happy New Year, everyone!


Offline Zivio

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2024, 12:18:38 PM »
I just encountered an excerpt* from Jane Austen’s Emma which reminded me of this FF topic:

Quote
"The post-office is a wonderful establishment!' said she. - "The regularity and despatch of it! If one thinks of all that it has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing!'
'It is certainly very well regulated.'
'So seldom that any negligence or blunder appears! So seldom that a letter, among the thousands that are constantly passing about the kingdom, is even carried wrong - and not one in a million, I suppose, actually lost! And when one considers the variety of hands, and of bad hands too, that are to be deciphered, it increases the wonder?'

Indeed, the wonder, and my thoughts exactly! It is one of the very few childhood wonders that has endured the passing of time for me.  I remember marveling, while just a boy, that I could send a letter to anywhere in the USA for PENNIES!  And that hasn’t changed to this day!  Add to my gobsmackery that I had never experienced undelivered mail, either on the receiving or sending end! “How can this even be?!” I puzzled …

In 2022, it was estimated that USPS processed some 420 million pieces of mail PER DAY!  And check out this little chart I’d asked ChatGPT (@jeanwilson) to prepare. My wonder and gratitude expands as I remember that if it weren’t for all the dedicated and hard working staff at our beloved USPS, none of this would happen.

Jane Fairfield’s comment:  "And when one considers the variety of hands, and of bad hands too” also resonates when I consider the “good hands” with which many here address their envelopes! Again, I’m astounded that the few letters I’ve addressed with Spencerian cursive have even arrived at all to their intended destinations. 


*As described in “To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing,” by Simon Garfield.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2024, 06:09:37 PM by Zivio »
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Offline Mark T

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2024, 05:45:37 PM »
UK perspective,...

According to Royal Mail, including a return address on the envelope, UK is optional. But, it is always better to add it for securing your shipments! Also, some Royal Mail shipping services need you to insert a return address to fit their criteria.

If your addresses are invalid or unreachable, the return address allows postal workers to trace your location and send your items back! You must write the words- ‘Return Address’ on the first line and include your mailing details below. Alternatively, you may also write ‘If Undelivered, Return to.’

Also, some people mistakenly write a return address belonging to the destination country. Please remember that Royal Mail only returns mail pieces to addresses within the UK.

But where does the return address go on the letter?

The most popularly-used way to include a return address is to place it on the backside of your envelope towards the bottom right. Align the address to the left and ensure that it is visible. The primary benefit of including the return address on the letter UK is that postal workers can distinguish it from the mailing address!

Some envelopes also carry the return address on the flap itself. It gives a professional look to your letters and makes mail returns simple!

If you want to learn more about where to put the return address on the envelope and get more options, you can place it on the front. Write or print it on the top-left corner of your envelope, but leave a minimum distance of 12 mm from the delivery address.

Also, your return address on letter should not appear lower than 28 mm from the top edge and less than 75 mm from the right side.

source - PostGrid UK
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Return address - top left or back?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2024, 10:53:17 PM »
All so fascinating! I have always said it was absolutely amazing the post office can deliver a letter to anywhere in the country (USA) for about 50 cents! But that number keeps going up.

I always put my return address to any letter going to another country because it could get lost in the US before making its way to that country. But I suppose that’s a wasted exercise.

This is from a handout I did for addressing envelopes for my calligraphy guild. It is based on USPO standards for America. But might be useful.
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