Mail Preparation for Offices & Departments

Address Formats

The United States Postal Service is now using new automated equipment which requires certain standards.

Return Address:


Outgoing Mail Format:

102 LOW ST

Inter-Campus Student
Address Format:

BOX 234651

Inter-Campus Address Format:


For more information on address formatting, see the Frequently Asked Questions.
Bulk Mailing Permit Imprints

Nonprofit Bulk Sample:

Nonprofit organization mailing sample

Your mail is important. Therefore, to help expedite processing, please follow the following mail preparation procedures.


  • Please provide Mail Services with a mail charge slip containing the appropriate departmental budget code for each office mailing.  Additional mail charge slips can be ordered through Longwood University Printing Services.
  • When mailing non-letter air packages, attach PS Form 2976.
  • Secure all bundles with a rubber band.
  • Include postage on all personal mail.
  • The meter/sealing machine requires that envelope flaps must be down. Envelopes that need to be sealed cannot be more than 1/4" thick (approx. 5-6 pages). Business size envelopes (#6, #9, and #10) can be sealed. Manila envelopes and some types of invitational envelopes (squared flaps) cannot be sealed by this equipment. Non-standard size envelopes vary and should be approved by Mail Services before processing.
  • Use one mail charge slip per account number. Please use an additional mail charge slip for foreign mail.
  • All Express and Overnight mail MUST be sent either USPS or UPS NEXT DAY. Ground or parcel shipments MUST be sent either USPS or UPS. This is a STATE CONTRACT and MUST be followed.
  • Bulk Mail must be placed in trays or tubs provided by Mail Services. DO NOT USE YOUR OWN CONTAINERS.
  • Please call ahead if your outgoing mail volume is excessive.
  • Departmental mail not ready or incorrectly prepared will be left for the next scheduled pickup

Packaging And Sealing


Mail Services DOES NOT offer packaging materials for sale. We offer recycled shipping materials at no charge when available. We accept properly packaged and addressed parcels, and reserve the right to refuse improperly packaged articles or substances.

It is the responsibility of the sender to prepare packages for shipping and provide protection against deterioration or degradation of the contents.


Mail Services' equipment cannot seal overstuffed envelopes (max. 1/4" thick), manila, invitations style, tri folded flyers, or catalog style (end-opening) envelopes.

Mail Services requires envelope flaps be down to seal. If you send envelopes that are already sealed, separate sealed envelopes from the unsealed. If these envelopes are not separated, damage and delay occurs.

Addressing For Success

These are the keys to addressing an envelope, so that it can be sorted by on optical character reader (OCR). This is important because it allows the U.S. Post Office to sort the mail faster and get the letter to it's destination quicker.

Dimensions of Letter Size Mail

  • Maximum Width 1/4"
  • Minimum Length 3 1/2"
  • Maximum Length 10 1/2"
  • Minimum Height 3 1/2"
  • Maximum Height 6 1/8"

Address Location

The OCR (optical character reader) looks for the address within an imaginary rectangle on each piece of mail called a "read area". The delivery address must be located within the following boundaries on your mail or the OCR will have trouble reading the address.

Sides of the rectangle - 1" from the right and left edges
Bottom of the rectangle - 5/8" up from the bottom edge
Top of the rectangle - 2 3/4" up from the bottom edge
Please make sure that no portion of the return address appears in the read area!

Lines of the Address

Please make sure that the three lower lines of the address have the name of recipient, the delivery address and the city, state and zip on the last line. Please use the Post Office approved abbreviations for the states because the machine can recognize them instantly.

Non-Address information

Please keep all non-address information out of the address location that was explained above.

Bar Code Clear Area

The OCR will place a bar code on the piece after it reads the destination of the letter. The space that the bar code will be placed needs to be clear... 4 1/2" from the right of the piece.

Window Area

Make sure that all of the address is visible through the window.

Address Characters

The OCR can read most typewritten and other machine printed addresses. It cannot read handwriting and print styles such as script, italic, artistic and other highly stylized characters.

Print Quality and Color

The print needs to be clear, sharp print.
The OCR reads black ink on a white background best.
An OCR needs to have a contrast between the ink and the paper. Keep the ink as dark as possible and the background as light as possible.


The OCR must see a clear vertical space between each character or it won't know where one ends and the next begins. For similar reasons, it also needs a clear horizontal space between each line of the address.