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Mailing and Material Management Services
Division of Financial and Business Services

Proper Addressing Format

There is a standard format for all campus addresses. Wherever and whenever campus addresses are used (letterhead, envelopes, business cards, forms, individual correspondence, web sites, etc.) they should be formatted according to this standard. If people use these addresses to write to the campus, then the US Postal Service and Mail Services will be able to process this mail in an efficient and timely manner.

ZIP+4 and Mail Codes

The purpose of ZIP+4 and Mail Codes is to help the US Postal Service and Mail Services sort and deliver mail. Our long term goal is to sort as much mail as possible by ZIP+4/Mail Code. This will help us to improve service by reducing sorting time and sorting errors. Mail Codes are assigned to departments, because we sort and deliver mail by department. Each department has at least one Mail Code. Some larger departments have two or more Mail Codes. In these cases, the Mail Codes are assigned to discreet sub-units or programs. All of the campus' addresses and mail codes are entered into the US Postal Service's national address database, which is used the USPS to process the nation's mail, and by mailers seeking correct addresses. This address data is managed jointly by the Postal Service and Mail Services.

Mail Services keeps the campus' address data up-to-date based on information provided by departments. If your department changes its name or moves, it is very important that Mail Services be informed so that this data can be kept current.

Destination Address Format:

Destination address should be as follows

Tommy Trojan 
Department of School Spirit 
University of Southern California 
3551 Trousdale Pkwy, Mail Code 0000 
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0000

  • Left justify address block information
  • Use uniform font size and spacing throughout. Upper and lower case, as well as all caps is acceptable.
  • Keep advertising, logos and other information clear of the destination address area.
  • Place address labels on uniformly, avoiding skew (less than 5 degrees).

Recommend not using adhesive labels for destination address with customer logo and printed return address. If used, destination address must be 1" to the right and 1" below return address.

Address Block Location for flat mail (larger than 6 1/8" by 11 1/2"):

The destination address should be at least 1" lower and 1" to the right of the return address at the minimum more is preferred.

The destination address block must be clearly separated from any extraneous text and graphics. Provide a minimum clear area of 3/8" (1/2" recommended) in each direction surrounding the address block.

General Addressing:

When addressing an envelope, it is important to properly place the address. For most mailings, the address should be as close as possible to the center of the envelope. For letter-sized pieces (up to 11 1/2" x 6 1/8"), always maintain 1/2" clearance from the left and right sides and at least 5/8" from the bottom of the piece.

Address Line Order:

USPS equipment reads address information from the bottom to the top of the mail piece. City, state and ZIP code information should always be the very last line in the address. The delivery address line just above the city, state and ZIP is where the USPS will attempt delivery.

Return addresses:

All USC business mail must include a return address. This is for the professional image of the University as well as a security requirement of the USPS.

Handwritten vs. Typing Addresses:

Although USPS equipment is designed to read handwriting, as a rule you should always type or print the address on your mail pieces. This will help your mail move quickly and efficiently through the system.

Window envelopes:

The complete address should be visible through the window at all times. To make sure your address doesn't a simple "tap-test." With the mail piece in the window envelope, tap the envelope to the right, left and bottom. You should be able to see all of the address information with the full shift of the mail piece. Only address data should show through the window.

Reusing envelopes:

Never, reuse envelopes for mail going off campus. This not only presents a negative image, but can also confuse USPS equipment. This policy also applies to returned mail; you must place the piece in a new envelope (with new postage) before you can mail it again.