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business letters: inside address

[A similar topic is discussed in French in the article ADRESSES (RÈGLES D’ÉCRITURE).]

The inside address is the second standard part of a business letter. It comes after the heading and before the salutation.

Information to include

The inside address is the receiver’s address. It includes the name of the person you are writing to, followed by the person’s home address or by the person’s business title, department (if applicable), company name and company address:

J. T. Ames
515 Concord Court
Gardenton, NS  B2X 9F6

OR

Ms. Amrita Kumar
Director of Communications
Waverley College
1400 Meadowvale Road
Pleasantville, MB  R2N 6Z9

Note that no comma is used at the end of each line of the address.

General guidelines

Placement

Unless it must be moved to fit properly into a window envelope, the inside address is usually placed four to eight lines below the date, flush with the left margin. (If the letter is long, you may place the inside address two spaces below the date.)

Spacing

Single-space the inside address.

Name of receiver

Use the appropriate courtesy title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss, Prof., Dr., etc.), followed by the first and last names or by the initial(s) and last name. In the case of a woman, use the courtesy title Ms. unless you are sure that she prefers Miss or Mrs. If you don’t know the gender of the receiver, use the name without a gender-specific courtesy title (e.g. J. T. Ames, Chris Carver).

If you do not have the name of a receiver, you may address your letter to a job title:

Sales Manager
ACME Inc.
Suite 102
1169 Parkwood Place
Wheaton, BC  V9Z 2Y8

Business title

Capitalize all words in the title except the articles a(n) and the, and short prepositions or conjunctions of under four letters (and, of, etc.):

Chair of the Board
President and Chief Executive Officer

If the receiver’s name and business title are both short, you may put them on the same line, with a comma between:

P. T. Kelly, President

If the title is longer, place it on a separate line below the name. If it runs past the centre of the page, drop the end of the title to a second line and indent two spaces:

Ms. Gwynneth R. Cornthwaite
Director of Marketing and International
  Research

Street address

The street address consists of the building number and the street name. Do not put a comma between the building number and the street name:

239 Forest Street

Spell out words such as Street, Avenue or Boulevard.

If the street address includes a compass point (e.g. north, south, east, west), write it with an initial capital:

515 Martindale Crescent East

Apartment

Traditionally, the number of an apartment, unit or suite comes after the street name, on the same line. Put a comma after the street name, and use the abbreviation Apt. or the word Unit or Suite before the number:

602 Cobden Road, Unit 900

Alternatively, you can put the apartment, unit or suite number before the building number, with a hyphen between:

900-602 Cobden Road

If the street address is long, the number of the apartment, unit or suite can go on the line above:

Suite 205
1849 Regency Boulevard

Postal box number

If the receiver’s address includes a postal box number, use it in place of the street address for mail delivery:

Mr. J. Bernstein
PO Box 245
Forestvale, NL  A5C M91

In writing the postal box number, do not use the number symbol (#) or the abbreviation No. If there is a station name, place it after the postal box number on the same line, with a comma between:

Ms. Alma Basran
PO Box 139, Stn. A
Sunnymead, AB  T9Y 8Z5

City and province

Put the city and province (or territory) on the same line, with a comma and a space between them:

Craigston, ON

Use the Canada Post abbreviations for provinces and territories, without any periods:

Provinces and territories Abbreviations
Alberta AB
British Columbia BC
Manitoba MB
New Brunswick NB
Newfoundland and Labrador NL
Northwest Territories NT
Nova Scotia NS
Nunavut NU
Ontario ON
Prince Edward Island PE
Quebec QC
Saskatchewan SK
Yukon YT

Postal code

Use capital letters in the postal code. Put a space between the two sets of characters, and do not include a hyphen:

N2X 7B9

You may place the postal code on the same line as the province, with two spaces between them. Do not put a comma between the province and the postal code:

Craigston, ON  N2X 7B9

If you prefer, in the inside address (but not on the envelope), you may write the name of the province in full, preceded by a comma. In that case, place the postal code on a separate line below the city and province:

Craigston, Ontario
N2X 7B9

But be sure to be consistent: write the province and postal code the same way in both the return address (if applicable) and the inside address.

Addresses outside Canada

Put the name of the country in capital letters on a separate line at the end of the address. Use the abbreviation USA (without capitals) for the United States, but write out the names of all other countries:

Ms. Mercedes Gomez
95 Cassandra Crescent
New York, NY  12345-6789
USA

Company as receiver

Sometimes you may need to address your letter to a company rather than an individual. If so, begin the inside address with the company name, and put the relevant department on the line below the company name:

Acme Industries, Ltd.
Marketing and Research Division
211 Appian Way, Suite 101
Dunbar, AB  T4S 9X2