USPS Asks That You Write Addresses Clearly To Speed Up The Holiday Mail Season

This coming Monday is the busiest day of the year for the USPS and they’d really appreciate it if you’d write your addresses in clear handwriting, so the computers can read them without human help.

From ABCNews:

A large part of the post office’s system is automated. Deputy Postmaster General Pat Donahoe told ABC News that 85 percent of all hand-written cards have their addresses read automatically by computers. The system then sprays on an 11-digit barcode which gives the Postal Service the ability to put mail in order for delivery.

“So nobody sorts the mail except machines which sort 36,000 pieces an hour,” Donahoe said.

When the computer can’t read the handwriting, a picture is taken and sent to one of eight data centers across the country. Humans there read it and type the information back into the system and a barcode is added.

So what can you do to ensure smooth sailing for your mail?

First, try to print the complete address clearly. A complete address includes street number and name, secondary address — such as apartment or suite number — city, state and 5-digit zip code. For example: 123 S. Main St., Apt 4, Washington, DC 20001. To find the proper zip code, visit or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.

You can also take advantage of the USPS’s free packing supplies and free package pickup. The USPS would also like to remind you not to drop packages weighing more than 13 ounces into the blue collection boxes shown above. Even if they have Ron Paul stickers on them. Thank you.

Tips for Shipping Your Christmas Gifts [ABCNews]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.