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U.S. Standards for Names & Addresses
by P.D. Sterling. Adapted for the web by The Data Wranglers
To ensure highest standards of professionalism fo and to promote a strong, business like image to the public, please observe standards as laid out below:
Punctuation - Back in the stone age, when data was keypunched into data cards, punctuation was discouraged because periods and commas tended to tear up the ribbons on impact printers. This has led to a modern business trend away from punctuation in data.
For this reason, no periods are used, except in e-mail addresses, commas are rarely used, and *Asterisks and #Bangs, #Hash Marks, #Number Signs and #Pound signs, which are Wild Cards in many programs, ARE NEVER USED! Also note that %John Jones does not read "in care of John Jones." The correct usage, which we very seldom use, is C/O John Jones
Honorific - Often left blank, unless a couple are Mr & Mrs or Dr & Mrs. It is unbusinesslike to add Mr or Ms, which are social titles. Additionally, we do not use Dr as an honorific unless we do not know the Doctor's degree. Similarly, it is safest to refer to attorneys as Esq, if we do not know if they are JD or LLD. Individuals who have been elected to public office are accorded the honorific of "The Honorable", which, in modern business is abbreviated as Hon.
- Examples: Harryette B Ehrhardt DEd, Hon Glen Maxey, Myron D Dornic Esq
Address - Note, most residential address look like this:
- Harryette B Ehrhardt DEd
- 5731 Swiss Ave
- Dallas TX 75214
- 5731 Swiss Ave
Alternately, address may be CMRA, Highway, Postal or Rural. Examples of each follow:
P D Sterling|
4205 Hall St PMB 292
Dallas TX 75219-8765
P D Sterling
HC 19 Box 47
Inez TX 76543
P D Sterling|
PO Box 190511
Dallas TX 75219
P D Sterling
RR 02 Box 34
Pulaski NY 13142
Note the lack of periods and commas.
There are no alpha characters in street numbers. What was once known as 221-B Baker St, is now 221 Baker St Ste B. Note the lack of periods and commas. Street names cannot, under any circumstances be abbreviated.
Street type (Ave, Blvd, Cir) is a code prescribed by the United States Postal Service. Note there is some tension between this business need and the social demand to write addresses out in full.
Data-processed addresses need to be USPS standard; handwritten invitations may hue to the social requirement. Address sub units are generally (Apt, Fl, Rm, Ste) and are standard USPS codes. Note the lack of commas, periods and ###s. This is not an option.
Another urgent issue is: A building name is not an address, except for the White House. Example:
|1900 One Main Pl||1201 Main St Ste 1900|
City names are now defined by the Post Office, and should be written out in full unless it exceeds 13 characters. For this reason, Fort Worth needs to be written out in full.
State codes are defined by USPS, and are always ALL CAP. No Big T, little exe. Do not guess about state codes. The USPS provides a webpage of authoritative abreviations.
Note there is no comma between the city and state code. Only in social correspondence.
Authoritative abreviations - This is the final word on abreviations for States, Street Suffixes and other address paraphenalia.
Zip Codes - The USPS provides a mechanism for locating the zip code for a particular street address. You may also find a good map helpful.
A USPS FAQ is also available with answers to the more frequent questions the post office gets asked about zip codes and abreviations.
FIPS County Names and Codes seem to be important in some applications. This site is the list according to the US Census. If you'd like to see the full ugly nasty originals, check the Federal Information Processing Standards site.
The Universal Postal Union is the "is the specialized institution of the United Nations that regulates" mail internationally. They maintain documents on properly addressing mail to each country (including province/state/region abreviations) and a list of standard country codes.
Created: 14 Nov 1999
please send suggestions and corrections to Tim Wood