USPS Information

​Addressing for Automation

To insure the best possible service, speed and readability by an OCR (Optical Character Reader), the United States Postal Service (USPS) recommends that you use these automation requirements:
Mail-pieces smaller than the dimensions below are not mailable. Letter mail larger than the dimensions is mailable but must bypass the OCR and be processed through slower and less efficient manual methods.
Dimensions(inches) Minimum Maximum
Height 3 ½" 6 1/8"
Length 5" 11 ½"
Thickness .007" 1/4"* * Card stock should not exceed .0095"
Address Location  
The OCR looks for the address within a rectangular space on each mail-piece, called the OCR read area. No portion of the return address should appear in the OCR read area.
Address Lines  
Keep address lines in the same order as shown below. Make sure the address is as complete as possible including all apartment (APT) or suite (STE) numbers and proper delivery designations such as RD, ST, NW, S, etc.
Address Characters  
Capitalize everything, using plain block letters or a Sans Serif typeface such as Helvetica (use 10 or 12 point type). Omit all punctuation, except the hyphen in the ZIP+4 code. Use abbreviations whenever possible (see list provided below).
The OCR must see a clear vertical space between each character and each word or it won't know where one ends and the next begins. It also needs a clear horizontal space between each line of the address. Clear spaces between words should be at least equal to the width of one full-size character.
Barcode Clear Area  
The barcode clear area must remain free of all printing, markings, or colored borders and allow for a clean display of the bar code.
Non-Address Information  
Extraneous printing such as advertising copy or university logos should be positioned above the OCR read area. The space below and on either side of the OCR read area should be clear of all printing and markings not actually part of the address.
Foreign Addresses  
Foreign mailings should have the full country name (not abbreviated), printed in capital letters, as the only information on the bottom line. The postal zone, if any, should be included with the city.

For Example:
Windowed Envelopes  
The entire address must always be visible through the window. If part of the address is hidden, the OCR will reject the envelope and send it off for manual processing.
Print Quality and Color  
The OCR performs best with black ink on a white background. Keep the ink as dark as possible and the background as light as possible.
State/Territory Abbreviations
Alabama AL Dist of Columbia DC Iowa IA Minnesota MN New Mexico NM Puerto Rico PR Virginia VA
Alaska AK Florida FL Kansas KS Mississippi MS New York NY Rhode Island RI Virgin Islands VI
Arizona AZ Georgia GA Kentucky KY Missouri MO North Carolina NC South Carolina SC Washington WA
Arkansas AR Guam GU Louisiana LA Montana MT North Dakota ND South Dakota SD West Virginia WV
California CA Hawaii HI Maine ME Nebraska NE Ohio OH Tennessee TN Wisconsin WI
Colorado CO Idaho ID Maryland MD Nevada NV Oklahoma OK Texas TX Wyoming WY
Connecticut CT Illinois IL Massachusetts MA New Hampshire NH Oregon OR Utah UT  
Delaware DE Indiana IN Michigan MI New Jersey NJ Pennsylvania PA Vermont VT