What do you write in a mailing letter?
You've got something important to say, but you're not sure who exactly needs to hear about it -- so what should you put inside that letter? If you can't be bothered with stamps and addresses anymore, there are many other options for writing letters today. But what's appropriate? What should you include in your enveloped correspondence? And how much would it actually cost to get your message delivered? Let us guide you through all those questions and more.
Letters have been around since ancient times, when they were usually written on papyrus scrolls (or parchment) and sealed with animal fat. In recent years, however, we've come up with new ways of communicating our thoughts via paper-and-envelope delivery systems. When was the last time you wrote out a letter and dropped it into a mailbox without any kind of address labeling? We haven't done that in quite some time, as most people use modern postal services like FedEx, UPS, and USPS to ship packages and letters across town and beyond. These companies provide specialized labels that identify where each package or piece of mail belongs before being sent off to their destinations.
The United States Postal Service offers several different types of postage, including First Class Mail, which costs $1 per ounce ($0.23/gram), Priority Mail, which goes for $2.85 per ounce ($0.77/g), and Express Mail, which sells at $4.50 per ounce ($1.13/g). The prices vary depending upon weight, size and whether it contains fragile items such as glass or metal [sources: USPS, USPS]. For example, if you wanted to send one pound of books using first class mail, you'd pay roughly $0.71 per book. So, let's take a closer look at what goes into a standard letter-sized envelope and why you might want to mail it yourself instead of going through your local post office counter.
What do you need on an envelope to mail it?
How do I mail an envelope in Canada?
What is the quickest way of sending a letter by post?
How much does it cost to send an envelope through the mail?
If you're just looking for a rough estimate of how much it'll cost to drop your next missive into someone else's hands, then this question has an easy answer. It's free! That's right, there's no charge associated with dropping an unaddressed envelope into a mailbox somewhere within the U.S., although you may find that certain areas levy extra fees based upon distance. You won't have to worry about paying a fee for shipping an addressed envelope either. Some private carriers charge a flat rate of $1.25 for transporting a single letter between two points within the same city, while others charge according to distance.
Of course, if you live outside of the continental U.S. or Canada, things start to change. Your best bet would be to call the closest branch of the U.S. Postal Service or Canada Post to see what rates they offer for international mailing services. Both agencies also offer online tools to help calculate your own custom postage price. They allow users to select various pieces of information and enter them directly into calculators. Once you plug that data into the site, it spits out a number that reflects the estimated cost of delivering your item. Of course, you can always go ahead and type the numbers manually after calling customer service.
There are numerous reasons why you might choose to mail your own personal correspondence instead of doing business with the post office. One reason is that private couriers often deliver faster than regular mail services. Another perk is that, because private carriers don't rely on government funding, they tend to work harder to stay afloat. This means better reliability, higher quality standards and lower rates for customers. Plus, if you ever move homes, switch jobs or otherwise find yourself needing to make a sudden trip overseas, private couriers typically offer cheaper rates than national postal organizations. However, if you're interested in taking advantage of cheap international airmail services like DHL Worldwide, FedEx International Saver or TNT Letterpost, check out the company's Web sites to see if they accept foreign orders.
Now that we know the basics, let's talk specifics. Read on to learn what you really need for mailing success.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent nearly $6 billion shopping over Thanksgiving weekend 2010. As far back as 2004, shoppers had already racked up almost $8.5 billion worth of holiday spending. By 2008, that figure had jumped to $11.9 billion. With Black Friday coming November 28, 2011, here's hoping consumers' wallets hold strong against steep discounts and promotions.
What do you need on an envelope to mail it?
An envelope isn't very complicated. Basically, all you need is enough space to fit whatever goodies you're planning to stuff inside. A lot of folks think that a little padding provides additional protection for their precious contents. In reality, though, envelopes aren't meant to keep anything safe. Enclosures made from materials like cardboard, plastic or foil simply cannot withstand extreme weather conditions or heavy impacts. Even a small bump could cause the entire envelope to rip open, spilling everything inside onto the floor. Therefore, unless you plan to wrap your gift tightly in bubble wrap, stick to simple designs and avoid fancy packaging altogether. Just try wrapping your present in newspaper or packing peanuts and sealing it with masking tape. No matter how well you wrap it, there's still a good chance that someone walking past you on the street will steal it.
As long as you follow these three rules, you shouldn't have any trouble putting together a nice little package. Here's a quick recap:
Don't add too much stuffing. Use common sense. You wouldn't buy a sweater that looked great hanging on hanger only to cram it full of candy corn and buttons, would you? Treat your gifts accordingly.
Avoid decorative paper. Unless you're buying expensive stationery with special features (like embossing or holographic printing), skip the frills and opt for plain white copy paper instead.
Keep it clean. Don't fold flaps inward toward sensitive documents. Instead, tuck them under the flap itself. Also, leave room for adhesive strips along the bottom edge of the envelope.
How do I mail an envelope in Canada?
Whether you're living near the border or miles away from it, Canadian residents face unique challenges when trying to navigate America's tricky postal system. Since Canada doesn't participate in the Universal Post Office System, meaning that it uses a separate network of sorting offices and depots, Canadians must deal with both the American domestic market and the global economy at once. To complicate matters further, Canada's mail service operates on a "first-in-last-out" principle rather than the "first-in-first-out" method used elsewhere throughout the world. While this makes perfect logistical sense, it creates a whole slew of problems for anyone traveling abroad. Luckily, there's a solution: cross-border express delivery.
Cross-border shipments require a third party carrier who specializes in moving large quantities of physical goods quickly and efficiently. Most major courier firms now operate programs designed specifically for travelers wishing to receive deliveries while simultaneously making purchases in another country. There are dozens of choices available, but all involve booking flights to and from specific locations beforehand. Afterward, clients sign up with the provider of their choice and place orders online. Then, when their shipment arrives, they pick it up themselves at nearby collection spots operated by the courier firm. Depending upon location and demand, these pickup zones can range anywhere from airports to hotels to grocery stores.
This convenient setup allows customers to shop for products while waiting for their packages to arrive. It also works in reverse, giving Canadian citizens the opportunity to purchase goods brought into the country by foreign visitors. Online retailers such as eBay and Amazon.ca offer competitively priced merchandise paired with exceptional customer support. Couriers like DTDC Air & Logistics specialize exclusively in cross-border shipments, providing reliable service and low prices. Other popular providers include TKX Courier, Kooma Shipping Services, Global Connect Cargo and Parcel Mall. All of these programs feature user friendly interfaces, 24 hour tracking capabilities and customs clearance services. They're ideal for anyone looking to explore the wider world from behind a computer screen.
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Envelopes are one of those mundane things we take for granted, but they're actually quite complex and interesting little objects that have been around since at least 300 B.C., when envelops were originally created by sealing scrolls inside bamboo canoes. Today's envelopes come with labels, security seals and all sorts of other fun features designed to make sending letters easier than ever before -- if only it were so simple!
The first step to writing yourself a great postal letter is keeping track of what goes on behind the scenes. You've got to know exactly where each item fits into the larger picture. For instance, once you receive your address information from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), you'll need to know whether you want to use regular airmail or priority mail service. If you live in Canada, however, there isn't such a distinction because Canadian Post offers both services as well [Source USPS]. But just because you don't see "priority" mentioned next to any given country doesn't mean that Priority Mail won't be available. It may depend on what kind of package you're shipping. In general, though, if you aren't sure which type of postage to select, ask your local post office. The person who helps you usually has access to special boxes marked accordingly.
Next up, let's talk about labeling. Labels help people understand what to expect when opening their packages. When should you put your return address on the outside of your envelope? What color label should you choose? What does COD stand for? Learn more about addressing labels below.
You might think that you'd never forget something like this, especially considering the amount of time you spend thinking about everything else involved in mailing a letter, but some details get overlooked every day. While you're standing in line at work, you notice someone using a self-adhesive number sticker instead of a stamp. Or maybe you leave out the zip code on an important piece of paper while packing for a trip. Either way, it happens far too often. To prevent these kinds of mistakes, keep a few handy tips close at hand. Before you head off to work, grab a pen and notepad to jot down anything that comes to mind. This way, you'll always remember to fill in the important pieces of information without forgetting anything.
How do I send a letter envelope?
Most Americans would agree that receiving physical letters is preferable over reading them online. And although e-mail is convenient, it also lacks the personal touch of snail mail. So why bother taking the extra effort to assemble a letter envelope? There are several reasons why creating a written correspondence makes sense. First, it takes longer to open a single handwritten note versus multiple printed ones. Second, you'll probably feel less stressed after putting pen to paper rather than fingers to keyboard. Thirdly, many people find handwriting soothing, making it a nice break from typing away at a computer screen. Finally, letters are better received during inclement weather conditions.
If you're planning to ship a letter overseas, you'll need to check your specific situation with whoever processes international mail. Depending on where you live, you may require a customs declaration form, which must accompany each shipment sent internationally. These forms vary depending on the type of items being mailed -- electronics, for example, usually fall under category 1A, whereas books belong to categories 3D and 707. Once you determine what needs to go along with your package, make sure you include it within your letter itself. Otherwise, you risk having to pay additional fees upon delivery.
Now that you know how to create a letter envelope, let's look at the ins and outs of posting letters in the United Kingdom.
In 2003, the British government began charging companies $1 per pound ($0.45 cents/gram) to deliver most types of products via freight train. Previously, free transport was provided through Britain's national rail system, called Rail Link, which allowed goods to be transported between ports and inland locations across England, Wales and Scotland. However, due to the steep price increase, businesses started shifting their shipments towards road transportation, resulting in congestion problems throughout major cities [Source BBC News]. Although the cost remains high, moving large quantities of cargo requires much fewer resources than transporting smaller loads. As a result, freight trains continue to play an integral part in delivering essential supplies across Great Britain.
How do I post a letter in the UK?
When traveling abroad, you'll likely encounter numerous different stamps and postal systems. Most countries issue two basic sizes of stamps -- small and medium -- and either round or oval shapes. Smaller denominations typically measure 4 x 5 inches (10 x 13 cm), while medium-sized stamps range in size from 6x8 inches (15x20cm). On top of varying dimensions, each individual country uses slightly different shaped stamps. For example, Australia issues rectangular stamps measuring roughly 2 x 3 feet (61x91 centimeters); New Zealand issues circular stamps ranging from 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in diameter; and South Africa sells oval stamps measuring approximately 2.5 x 3.2 feet (76 x 84 centimeters). To avoid confusion, stick to buying standard sized stamps whenever possible.
Although the majority of countries print their own stamps, others buy theirs directly from the Royal Philatelic Bureau located in London. Stamps issued by the bureau tend to feature images related to the nation's culture or history. Because of this, buying stamps from another country can sometimes be confusing. Luckily, the Royal Philatelic Bureau allows visitors to purchase stamps directly from kiosks found throughout London. Just follow the signs directing patrons toward the booths. At the booth, you can pick up preprinted sheets containing samples of stamps from various countries. Prices range anywhere from £3 to £25 sterling pounds ($4 -$50) depending on the country featured on the sheet. After purchasing your sample, simply tear off the corner and affix it to your outgoing letter.
As long as you keep the basics in mind, starting a letter shouldn't prove to be very difficult. Let's explore the four parts of a typical letter together.
There's no right or wrong way to begin a letter. Some writers prefer to kick things off with salutations, while others begin with greetings. Regardless of what format works best for you, you should always consider the audience. Who will read your missive? Are you trying to inform your readers, entertain them or persuade them? Whatever tone you intend to set, try to establish it early on. Otherwise, your reader may become confused regarding whom he or she should listen to -- you or someone else.
How do I start a direct letter?
Whether you're contacting the president, the CEO or an old friend, you should always properly identify yourself. Your name is one of the simplest ways to accomplish this. Adding your title or position further establishes your authority. A good rule of thumb is to state your role first and then add your name last. This method ensures that anyone who receives your message will have enough context to respond appropriately.
Once you've identified yourself, explain precisely why you're calling or writing. Be honest with yourself and clear about what you really want to say -- nothing turns off a listener faster than vague requests. Next, describe the problem or concern you wish to discuss. Don't worry -- nobody expects you to solve everyone's problems in one fell swoop! Instead, focus on presenting your main point upfront, leaving room for listeners to offer solutions later on.
Finally, wrap up your conversation in a polite manner. Even though you may disagree with someone, don't resort to insults or profanity. Try to maintain your composure and respectfulness at all times. No matter what, never hang up the phone unless asked to. Listeners appreciate honesty and courtesy. They also enjoy hearing the sound of a human voice coming through the receiver. Closing your call gracefully demonstrates proper etiquette, regardless of the reason for disconnection.
With practice, you'll soon discover that starting a letter becomes second nature. Now that you've mastered the art of composition, it's time to sharpen your public speaking skills. We'll tackle the topic in the following section.
It may seem obvious, but in today's busy world, it pays to prepare ahead of time. Take notes on topics you plan to cover, and organize ideas based on importance and urgency. Then, sit back and wait until your event approaches. By doing so, you'll ensure that you handle your responsibilities efficiently and effectively.
How do you start the beginning of a letter?
While crafting a letter is relatively easy, talking in front of strangers can be downright terrifying. Whether you're preparing to give a presentation or interview, practicing beforehand can reduce anxiety levels drastically. Start by breaking big tasks down into manageable chunks. Practice pronouncing unfamiliar words slowly and thoroughly. Read aloud sections containing particularly complicated vocabulary. Also, review common phrases and sentences that contain particular terms. Doing so will allow you to speak confidently, eliminating unnecessary pauses. Remember that rehearsals are meant to mimic real life events, so try to imagine similar situations that might arise. Practicing in front of a mirror provides a helpful reference point.
You don't have to be a postal worker, delivery person or postmaster general to know that writing on a piece of correspondence and putting it into an envelope can pose some problems. What happens if someone writes "Return To Sender" instead of just plain old "Post Office"? Or what about when the addressee's street name is spelled wrong -- but he lives at a certain apartment complex? Is there any way around this conundrum? Yes! There are several ways to ensure that your important missive gets where it needs to go without causing undue frustration for anyone who might receive it first. The easiest method involves using one of two labels: ZIP code or apartment number. But why stop with those limited options? Here are three more tricks up our sleeves so we're ready for anything.
First off, let's talk about the basics. You've probably heard people mention that addressing envelopes by their zip codes is easier than listing them alphabetically because they use fewer numbers. This may not always be true, depending upon which area you live in. If you reside somewhere like Los Angeles County, however, you'll find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly. In most cases, simply adding the zip code helps get things straight faster than trying to remember names and addresses. And while it doesn't help as much as other methods, knowing your neighborhood has its advantages too. For example, many cities still require apartment residents' mail-to-be delivered via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). So rather than having to deal with the USPS and wasting time figuring out whether or not your package was accepted, you can check your mailbox once a day to see if it arrived safely. If you're wondering how to apply the same technique to packages, read How Do Packages Ship Without Addresses On Them?
Next up is another basic principle: Don't put your full street address on your return postage. That's right, unless you're sending something back to where it came from. No matter how hard you try, misdirected mail isn't going away anytime soon, especially since companies nowadays often include tracking information on every item sent. It's also possible to lose mail through the sorting system if your address isn't clear enough. As such, leaving room for your company's tracking number gives recipients a little extra peace of mind. When all else fails, consider including only your city and state. After all, chances are good that whoever receives your letter won't care exactly which house in America you happen to call home.
There are times when you must list your entire street address, though, and that comes with practice. We recommend learning to spell everything correctly before attempting it. Sometimes it seems easy to take common words like "and," "the," and "of" for granted until you start applying them to unfamiliar places. Also keep in mind that you should never confuse your own place with others'. Just because you live near your workplace doesn't mean everyone living there shares your last name. While it may seem convenient to type "Apartment 6C" over and over again, that would eventually become annoying. Instead, you can use "Building C, Floor 3." Another option is to make a note of each building's front door keypad combination and use that whenever necessary. Keep in mind that if you work in a large office park, there may be multiple buildings to choose from.
Finally, if you ever want to mail items directly to specific apartments within a given development, then you'll need to understand how to properly format your address. First, figure out which unit you'd like to reach. Then look up the phone number listed next to it. Next, divide the total number of units between the different floors. Finally, multiply the floor number by the individual unit's square footage to determine the exact location. Once you have this information memorized, you can easily recall it later.
For example, say you wanted to mail a bottle of perfume to Apartment 807A. Since there are nine units per floor, you'd subtract 1 from the floor number to account for the elevator. Therefore, floor 9 becomes floor 8. Now you have eight left. Multiply 8 x 7 = 56. Subtract 2 from 56 to remove the twelfth floor, making 54 remaining. Divide 5 by 4 to arrive at 12. Take 12 -2=10, which represents the tenth floor. Lastly, 10 *7 = 70. Subtract 1 from 70 to eliminate the eleventh floor, giving 69 remaining. Divide 69 by 4 to discover that Apartment 808A sits on the seventh floor.
Now that you know the ins and outs of labeling an envelope, turn the page to learn how to avoid being caught short when shipping a box.
How do I mail a letter?
This may sound obvious, but no one likes waiting in line at the post office. Luckily, for folks who prefer doing business elsewhere, there are plenty of services available online that offer e-mail forwarding and bulk mailing capabilities. Many allow users to set up filters that automatically forward incoming messages to designated employees. Other sites provide customers with the ability to create custom forms and attach documents to outgoing emails. Although these services can save you money on stamps, a word of warning: Some of them charge fees based on volume, meaning you pay for every email message you send or document attached to an electronic submission. Still, such savings are worth considering if you send a lot of mail regularly.
When deciding how to ship a letter, think about whether you need to send it overnight or during normal working hours. Postage rates vary according to weight, size, distance traveled and service requested. Generally speaking, you can expect to shell out roughly $1.20 for a single sheet of standard letter paper weighing four ounces. However, if you opt for Priority Mail International Flat Rate Box ($3) or Express Plus Package ($4), you can shave off anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent. Depending upon the amount of mail you plan to send, you might end up saving hundreds of dollars. Of course, you aren't required to buy boxes and supplies from the US Postal Service, either. A variety of private businesses sell boxes, bags, tape and stickers specifically designed for international shipments.
If you decide to purchase a preaddressed envelope, be sure to pick one with good insulation qualities. Most importantly, check to see that it includes double seams. Double seaming prevents liquids from leaking onto the envelope. Even better, select ones with reinforced corners. These prevent torn edges and accidental punctures.
The United States Postal Service offers expedited shipping services aimed toward both individuals and corporations. Expedited shipping costs less money than regular rate mailings, yet takes longer to deliver. One popular option allows buyers to schedule deliveries of catalogs and magazines. They can request expedited shipping by calling 800-275-8777 or logging onto www.usps.com.
Do I need a stamp to send a letter?
Stamps come in denominations ranging from one cent to five dollars. Each denomination typically contains approximately 20 cents' worth of revenue. Because prices fluctuate, it's best to research current pricing before buying a stamp. Prices usually increase after major holidays, although they remain relatively stable otherwise. Regardless of price, however, Americans spend billions annually on stamps alone.
Because of budget constraints, many people feel compelled to buy generic stamps and ink refills. Unfortunately, the latter may contain harmful toxins like mercury and cadmium. Buyers interested in purchasing quality products should look into brands like Zinc & Tungsten Inc., Crane & Co., Franklin Mint and Perpetual Marker Company. Such companies produce nontoxic alternatives that maintain high standards.
Also, be cautious when selecting stamps that feature political figures. Although most countries have leaders, some are notorious for printing commemorative issues featuring themselves. With that said, there are exceptions. Certain states like Alaska and Wyoming hold elections year round, necessitating constant ballot distribution. Consequently, the US government prints special ballots for voters residing in those areas.
Unfortunately, the cost of producing stamps grows exponentially with each additional country featured. At least for now, the US Postal Service charges a flat fee of 13 cents for each new stamp design created. Stamps depicting foreign nations are charged at a higher rate.
Although stamps are unnecessary for personal correspondence, they can prove extremely useful for businesses. Read on to learn how to organize a successful mailing campaign.
How do you mail letters from home?
With the advent of digital technology, finding a reliable domestic carrier hasn't been quite as difficult as it used to be. Online carriers like FedEx Ground, UPS Ground and DHL Worldwide Express offer affordable rates and prompt delivery. Before signing up, make sure to compare local companies to ensure you receive dependable service. Typically, smaller firms tend to give priority to customer satisfaction. Additionally, you may wish to inquire about discounts offered to students or military personnel. Ask friends and family members who frequently conduct overseas transactions to share their experiences with particular delivery services. By taking advantage of free trials and comparing quotes, you may be able to find the perfect match for your needs.