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Addressing: the question
August 1, 2012 1:20 AM   Subscribe

Looking at the Universal Postal Union pages on the matter, addresses on envelopes are usually right-justified and appear below the stamp. Why is this the case. Also, are the UK and Ireland the only exceptions?
posted by Talkie Toaster to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
For the benefit of other answerers, I think your 'right-justified' is a bit confusing. Addresses are generally left-aligned for left-to-right-writing countries, but the position of the address on the envelope varies. Many countries do appear to adopt a convention of placing the address on the right of the envelope, below the stamp, although there are many in your list that only specify the format of the address, not the position.

Austria and Australia are examples from that list where the address is supposed to be bottom-left, rather than bottom-right. In the UK, there doesn't appear to be any convention; this Royal Mail page places the address centrally. Windowed envelopes (at least in the UK) usually have the window on the right, so that an address printed at the top of the letter can be placed to show through - which I suspect is one of the reasons for the choice of bottom-right in many countries.
posted by pipeski at 2:14 AM on August 1, 2012


Ah yes, sorry. I wasn't fully awake when I formulated the question. I was referring to the position of the address on the envelope rather than whether the text is left- or right-justified.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:19 AM on August 1, 2012


Pipeski: "Windowed envelopes (at least in the UK) usually have the window on the right, so that an address printed at the top of the letter can be placed to show through"

This is the wrong way round. Window envelopes in fact usuall have the window on the left, so that the address (printed at the top of the letter on the left in the UK) can show through.

The only window evelopes I receive with the window on the right are from National Geographic, which come from (I think) the Netherlands.
posted by tonylord at 3:21 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oops, sorry. You're right, Tony. Windowed envelopes do indeed tend to have windows on the left. The one on my desk appears to be a weird one.
posted by pipeski at 3:50 AM on August 1, 2012


I have read both the question and the linked PDF and have no idea what you people are talking about. In case it is of any use, however, here is my post from this morning - 3 pieces are domestic and originate in Ireland, one piece hails from the UK.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2012


Actually, this is a fascinating detail I had never taken notice of before. Not content with driving on the wrong side of the road, it appears that the inhabitants of the British Islands also write the address on the wrong side of the envelope. Oh you wacky Brits (and Irish)!
posted by Skeptic at 2:01 PM on August 1, 2012


I have no idea what you mean. When we send non-windowed mail, our addressing looks exactly like US addressing.

(I now realise I very rarely get non-windowed mail, but if I get any tomorrow I will take a photo for MeFi.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:07 PM on August 1, 2012


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