Northeastern University Mail Services
United States Postal Service

Guidelines for Preparing Mail | Guidelines for Forwarding Mail | Size of Envelopes | Size of Postcards | Classes of USPS Mail | First Class Mail | Priority Mail | Standard Mail | Library Rate | Parcel Post

Guidelines for Preparing Mail

To ensure that outgoing mail is delivered in an accurate, timely and cost-effective manner, please follow these basic guidelines in preparing mail for USPS processing:

All mail must include a delivery address and a return address.

Use two-letter state abbreviations.

Put the city, state and ZIP Code — in that order — on last line.  Foreign mail must have the country name spelled out completely, no abbreviations. For Foreign mail the country becomes the last line.

Note: if you wish to include an "Attention" line, it should appear as the first line of the address.

Example (Domestic)                                                   
Attention: Mr. Steve Jobs
Apple Computer
333 Washington Blvd.
Seattle, WA 94343

Example (Foreign)

Attention: Mr. Steve Jobs
Apple Computer
100 Rue de Villa Paris - France                                                                                                                      

Guidelines for Forwarding Mail

It is the responsibility of Northeastern departments to forward mail for any of their faculty or staff who are no longer with the university.

-Cross out the old address.
-Write in the forwarding address.
-Place it in the outgoing mail.

Size of Envelopes

The size of the envelope should properly accommodate the contents. For use in the United States Postal System, there are basically two categories of envelopes: letter size and "flats," as referred to by the USPS.

Letter-size mail must be rectangular in shape for automated processing by the United States Postal Service. The following dimensions must be met for automated processing:

-Height between 3 .5 inches and 6.125 inches
-Length between 5 inches and 11.5 inches
-Thickness between 0.007 inches and 0.25 inches

Note: Nonstandard-sized envelopes are subject to a 20-cent surcharge from the USPS.

Flats are envelopes larger than the maximum size, but not larger than 15 inches long by 12 inches high. Flats weighing less than 1 ounce are subject to a 20-cent surcharge.

-Height between 6.125 inches and 12 inches
-Length between 11.5 inches and 15 inches
-Thickness between 0.25 inches and 0.75 inches

Size of Postcards

-Minimum size 3.5 inches by 5 inches
-Maximum size 4.25 inches by 6 inches

Classes of USPS Mail

First Class Mail

 Any  type of mail weighing 13 ounces or less may be sent First Class.

Priority Mail

All First Class mail weighing more than 13 ounces and not exceeding 70 pounds is considered priority mail. At the option of the mailer, any mail weighing 13 ounces or less can be sent priority mail. There is no minimum weight limitation. There are four flat rate boxes unlimited weight.  Use Priority Mail when two- to three-day service is needed.


Note: Priority Mail is a three-day service between major markets. Contact Mail Services for specific markets.

Note: Items weighing more than 13 ounces should be packaged in a USPS priority envelope or package to expedite delivery. Envelopes and packages are provided at no charge and are available through Mail Services. Refer to the Postal Supplies section of this Web site for ordering information.

Library Rate

Specific items loaned or exchanged among schools, colleges, universities, public libraries, museums, herbaria and nonprofit religious, educational, scientific, philanthropic, agricultural, labor, veterans or fraternal organizations or associations may be sent by a special Fourth Class library rate. Materials must be labeled "Library Rate." NOTE: Library Rate is for mail sent library to library only.

Parcel Post

Any mail that exceeds Flat Rate sizes becomes a Parcel.