The world is our stage, as said by a famous man once! We often happen to travel long distances from home for our work or otherwise. Staying in touch becomes an obsolete and mundane routine, especially in this technical age. Although there are various instruments of communication at our disposal especially those which let us exchange news within seconds, it was not always the case. There was a time when people had to rely on the oldest form of communication, that is, writing letters. You might wonder why do we need to learn how to mail a letter in this digital age?
Well, apart from exchanging pleasantries, letters are also used for official purposes. It is perhaps one of the only uses of a letter that remains unchallenged by technology. Imagine what would happen if someone is officially notified about their appointment or termination over a text message; or through verbal communication without any hard copy to serve as proof. Hence, the importance of letters is irreplaceable in certain cases.
The Journey of Letters: A Preview
Before answering that question of how to mail a letter, let’s take a look at how the tradition of letter writing came into being. The first recorded handwritten letter dates back to 500 B.C. and was written by the Persian Queen Atossa, the mother of King Xerxes. Before the year 1840, couriers, coach and horse riders used to deliver letters in exchange for a fee that the recipient had to pay against a receipt.
In 1840, Great Britain first introduced prepaid stamp for postal delivery services while the United States started a limited postal service in August 1842. Although letters have shifted from the personal to the professional, it remains an art of the lingual eloquence.
The lost art of letter writing: The Greatest Letters of All Times
Before venturing into the digital side of how to mail a letter, it is imperative to understand the more literal version. A forsaken art of the oldest romantics and greatest novelists’ letter writing transcended beyond words and into the literature.
Of the greatest letters of all times, perhaps Napoleon Bonaparte's to his beloved Joséphine de Beauharnais stands out for its raw honesty and heartfelt emotions. Originally written in French, the letter was translated into English for the world to admire. Bonaparte sheds his tough shell to exclaim his undying and pure affection for his lady love. The French military leader passionately wrote on about the withdrawing feeling of a closed heart if a quarrel were to happen. He exclaimed how he would kiss her three times, once on her heart, once on the lips and once on the eyes.
An icon known for her strong expression of the self was Kahlo. Frida Kahlo's tumultuous yet passionate relationship with Diego Rivera saw some of the best of artworks and letters. In a letter addressed to Diego, Kahlo wrote about the light which Diego shone on her. She wrote that he was the combination of all the numbers. Kahlo wrote on about his words travelling the entirety of space and reaching her cells, which were her stars that went on to become her light.
How to Mail a Letter with a Few Easy Steps
One does not need to be Shakespeare to know how to mail a letter. Here are some easy steps to get it right:
Opting For the Right Envelope
After you have penned down your thoughts that you want to send across, it is imperative to choose the perfect envelope for it. Although it seems trivial, the right envelope plays an important role in portraying your urgency or seriousness.
You need to consider the size and dimensions of the letter before getting an envelope. Remember, you will be charged package prices accordingly!
Lastly, the intention of the letter is also something you should consider before choosing the envelope. You might need to choose between a professional-looking one to send a formal letter or a cover letter. While a colorful one would do just fine for a love letter or a letter meant for exchanging pleasantries. It's even more crucial to mark the letter properly on the envelope so that it is laudable. Else, your love letter may end up at the bosses' cabin.
Properly Seal the Envelope
One of the most important steps of what constitutes the answer to how to mail a letter with precision is to make sure that the letter stays unscathed. If the envelope you choose to send your letter comes with glued edges, you can just lick the edges to moisten the glue. You can also opt to use a wet cloth or a sponge to do the licking for you. Hygiene and all that, you know! In case, the envelope does not come with glued edges, opt for some non-stick adhesive and apply it along the edges judiciously. You can also use some transparent tape on the edges for added safety.
Add Address of the Recipient
To make sure the letter reaches the person it is intended for, write down the address of the recipient in the middle of the envelope’s front side. Make sure you leave ample space on the top left corner where you would put the sender’s address. While writing the recipient’s address, include the name of the person you are sending the letter to, his or her house or apartment number followed by the street name, city, state or province, and ZIP code. Ensure that you do not use any commas or periods while penning down the address.
In case of the ZIP code, try to put down the entire nine-digit ZIP+4 code if you know it. You can also write the two-letter state code in block letters to offer clarity to the postal employees. If the person you are writing to prefers to take his or her mail out of a post office box instead receiving it on their street address, then you need to write the correct post office box number along with the city and state name. While you are writing to someone who is in a foreign country, it is recommended to write the country’s name in block letters at the bottom of the address.
It is advised to write each part of the address on a different line so that any postal employee can understand it accurately with just a glance. Imagine how much time a postal employee will allot to your letter within thousands of them. Hence, we need to be as clear-cut as possible from our end.
Include Your Return Address
A return address is important, just in case. If the recipient of the mail happens to miss it due to a glitch, the postal services will need something to make sure that it finds its way back to you. Including the sender’s address will help them send your undelivered letter back to you or else it might get lost. On the other hand, if the letter reaches its intended destination and the recipient wants to send you a suitable reply, he need not waste time going through the address book to find where you live.
Write your return address on the top-left corner at the front of the envelope. Use the same format you used for the recipient address to write down the sender’s address. If you address labels, they save your time whenever you plan to send a letter.
Use Appropriate Stamps
Everything in this world comes at a price and the same holds for postal services. To make sure your letter is delivered to the right address by the postal services, you need to affix a postal stamp to the envelope containing your letter. The amount you spend to buy the stamp or stamps indicates your payment for the postal service. Every stamp comes with a fixed amount of postage that is notified by them.
Now, how do you select the right stamp for your letter? It is decided by an amalgamation of a few factors such as the destination, speed, shape, size, special handling charges, delivery confirmation receipt, and insurance. You can calculate and make your decision about opting for the right stamps by going through USPS.com.
Generally, if your letter is bound for a US address (including APO and FPO) and weighs less than one ounce, opt for a 1-ounce First-Class Mail stamp. If it weighs more than once ounce and less than two ounces, you might either add another 1-ounce stamp or go for a 2-ounce First-Class Mail stamp. You can also opt for Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express stamps in case of urgency.
Apart from the weight factor, you might also need extra stamps if you are sending the letter overseas or if it is oversized. You can visit the post office to check both the weight and size of the envelope. It will give you a clear idea about the postage cost. Moreover, you can opt for decorative or commemorative stamps for special occasions by obtaining them from the collection at the post office.
Other than the post office, you can buy stamps from various retail stores and also online. If you have old postage stamps, make sure to check their values from time to time as their prices might change. After getting your hands on the appropriate stamps, affix them to the top-right corner at the front of the envelope.
Mail the Letter
The only step remaining on how to mail a letter is to post it! You can look for blue USPS mailboxes that are found in abundance in most of the cities and the suburbs.
If you are unable to find the time to put your letter in a blue USPS mailbox, do not worry. You can put it in your mailbox and then rotate the red flag up. When the red flag is up, it will attract the attention of your mailman. He would know that there is a letter inside which needs to be picked up.
Learning Email Etiquettes
After the emergence of the internet and digital media, the question “how to mail a letter?”, makes us understand something entirely different than what we have already discussed. Nowadays, if someone says that he/she wants to mail something, more often than not he/she is referring to an email.
Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow to write a convincing email.
There are a hundred and one ways you can learn of the net for writing the perfect mail. The things to be told, however, come with experience. For instance, avoid marking everyone in the recipient. Mark the person for whom the mail is intended and the other party in the CC.
Remember, those marked in CC will be visible to all, but the ones marked in BCC remains undisclosed. So, choose wisely.
Also, always send the mail with a salutation followed by your name. It's rude just as it is unpleasant to start without a greeting. Clocks exist for a reason! If it's a late-night mail, always begin with an apology for being well, late. Similarly, when you write PFA which translates into please find attached, remember to attach the file. Use PFB, please find below for links or images in the mail body that are not in the form of attachments.
When mailing from a professional email-id, remember to add the company profile, logo. Also, add your designation, name, and number in the signature line. It conveys authenticity and relays a sense of professionalism.
A word of grammatical caution: refrain from writing revert back. To revert means to return or refer back to a past subject.
Well, that's it for how to mail a letter. Now, you have found your way, surprise your loved ones with a thought-provoking epistle anyway.