13 May 2012

Fictional Correspondences: Addressing Fictional Postcards for the NonFictional U.S. Mail

A later post in this series will go into detail on the making of a "really real" looking faux envelope.  But since you want want that imaginary letter to reach its very real recipient, you'll need to take care in how you address the item that the USPS actually sees!

Happily, our friends at the Post Office have published a nicely detailed document about it.

You can find the whole caboodle at this link here.
Here are the basics (below).

What MUST be present is a correct street address, city, state, and zipcode.  The P.O. folks state to use the real name of the recipient. Some postal peeps won't deliver an item if the name of the person who actually lives  at the address is not present.  Then again, we keep getting mail here at our flat addressed to the last 4-5 people who lived here before us!

Fine and dandy - but what if what you are sending is a POSTCARD?  In the olden days, postcard addresses were pretty loose.  Somehow they arrived.

If you live in a small town this might still work, but nowadays it's more likely the postcard will never arrive. You can still play around a bit, though -- within limits. 

(1) Write the letter part to/from the fictional characters 
but address it to the real person. 

(2) Keep the surname of the "real person" in your address, 
but be playful.

(3) Use the fictional recipient's name along with c/o (i.e., "in the care of"] the name of the real person.

Then again, you could be bold and daring like my brother The Captain, who changed the name and misspelled the street of this postcard he sent me once.  Somehow it reached our mailbox.

And, of course, be sure you have the correct postage.  Here are the current rates (as of May 2012).
For First Class Letters
  • 1 ounce: 45¢
    2 ounces: 65¢
    3 ounces: 85¢
    3.5 ounces: $1.05
  • postcard: 32¢ (a non-standard sized postcard will require additional postage)
  • square envelope.: add 20¢
 And a little more info, FYI.

 Image source/credit

Next in the Series: So Now You Are an Imaginary Correspondent . . . What's Next? ~ This will be posted on 25 May as I have some other fun stuff to post in the meantime!


Follow the series.
5. Fictional Correspondences: Addressing Fictional Postcards for the NonFictional U.S. Mail (this post)


  1. Very interesting. I started using computer generated labels when I got my first PC. Then I did computer addressed envelopes until it became impossible or nearly so to print envelops on most printers. Before that I did them by hand or with a typewriter. Now for about 9 months or so I have been about 99% typewriter addressing mail. After reading through your post and pub 28, I may through Uncle Sam's USPS a bit of a challenge; change to handwriting all my mail with nicely written addresses from my fountain pen.

    Wouldn't it generate more jobs if people had to read the addresses rather than depend on OCR automation with hopefully all machine addressed mail?

    1. I rather like the idea of the fountain pen - especially if you had changeable nibs and could get all calligraphic! ;-)


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