There is a point in every child’s life when they are taught that all-important skill. No, I’m not talking about teaching them how to read, tie their shoes (which many people do improperly, but that’s another story), or even how to do simple arithmetic (which, again, many people can’t seem to do). I’m referring to that beautiful day when someone teaches a young person how to write an address.

Wait, do addresses even really matter? I mean, mail still gets places, doesn’t it? Yeah, I guess it does, but wouldn’t you rather the address you put on your stationery and website was accurate and looked like the person, or company, it represents cares about details? Last time I checked that was a pretty important thing in the business world. I don’t check often so that might have changed.

Lets take a look at an example used by Canada Post who, I believe, is some kind of authority on Canadian addresses. That being said, if this is going on a business card, signage, website, etc. there are some differences. Key changes are removing the all-caps; spelling out street types and directions; and a comma between the city and province.

[row][col count=”6″]
10-123 1/2 MAIN ST NW
[/col][col count=”6″]
John Jones
Marketing Department
10-123 1/2 Main Street NW
Montreal, QC H3Z 2Y7

We’ll look at the address, line by line, to figure out how you can replicate this perfection.

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Line 1: The Addressee

It’s beautiful, simple, and to the point. There’s a first name, there’s a last name, and you know exactly what is going on. Simply write the name and move on. If you’d like you can add something like Dr. or Esquire to the name, but only if that person is actually a doctor or gentleman. They probably aren’t. It is very likely that you will be using a business name instead of a person’s but the same goes for businesses, though they are even less likely to be an Esquire.

Line 2: Additional Delivery Information (Optional)

This line gets all the fun stuff. You can add a company department, that “c/o John Jones” thing, a floor number, etc. If it doesn’t make sense anywhere else, it probably makes sense here.

Line 3: Civic Address

This is the part everyone seems to screw up because there are too many options. Let’s go over each part and I’ll try to explain how to do this properly.

Unit Number: If there is a unit number you have three options, but because you’re probably going to include this address on your business cards and website it’s best to ignore two of them. The simplest way to add a unit number is to write the number, then a hyphen, then the civic number (like in the example above). You don’t use a comma to separate these because it’s not a list and it looks weird that way. You also don’t use the # symbol or the abbreviation No.

Civic Number: If you don’t have a unit number you can skip that last step and just write the civic number, which may include a fraction (1/2) or alphabetic (A) suffix. If it’s a fraction you put a space between the civic number and the fraction. If it is a letter you use no space. Just write it the same way you see it on the street sign near your house.

Street Name: Sometimes this is a name (MAIN ST) and sometimes letters (36A ST). Either way, write it like you see it on the street sign. If it says 4 ST write like that. If it says 4TH ST then write it like that. Pretty straightforward.

Street Type: Did you know there are almost 150 street types in French and English? I had no idea WHARF was a street type. Anyway, you throw in the street type (or you put this before the street name if it is French and the street name isn’t a number [e.g., Rue Main]) and toss in a direction if one applies (like N or NE).

For things that aren’t envelopes: Write out the same address but write the full street type rather than the abbreviation (e.g., Street). North, East, South, and West should also be spelled out (but not combined directions like NE, NW, etc.).

Line 4: Municipality Name, Province or Territory and Postal Code

Almost done. You can now throw in the city name, followed by the province. Canada Post would rather you didn’t use a comma between the city name and province, but you can use a comma on your business cards, website, etc. The province can be abbreviated or written in full, doesn’t matter much either way. You’ll need two spaces between the province and the postal code, and please don’t put a hyphen between the two parts of your postal code.

And you’re done! As you can see it’s not really rocket science, but it seems to be easily screwed up. Hopefully this will help guide you when you need to use your address in the future.

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