For consumer and residential addresses, a complete and correct address consists of three basic lines of information: Customer or Recipient Line, Delivery Address Line, and Last Line (City State ZIP). Depending on the address type, other address data elements could include apartment or suite numbers, Post Office Box addresses, and a complete rural/highway contract route address (with route and box numbers).
Significantly, in terms of content, business–to–business mailers have much more to worry about with various permutations of firm names, the use of prestige addresses, and auxiliary company and personnel data, e.g., titles, personal/professional, and department or division. Consequently for the business–to–business mailer, the scope of standardization and list maintenance and correction becomes much more complex.
By establishing preferred format or data element location guidelines, defined character lengths, standard abbreviations, and a progression of compression steps, a process has been created that now enables mailers to uniformly condense business address components to any practical length, depending on the purpose and the need to abbreviate the data. The use of standardized abbreviations and logical compression steps is intended to facilitate the computer–based merge/purge process, Postal Service multi–line optical character readers (MLOCR) and industry address matching services including ZIP+4 and NCOA.
The mailer has full discretion in the use of standard abbreviations and compression guidelines to optimize computer data storage and output to a mailpiece. There is no intent to mandate the use of these abbreviations or guidelines if the mailer prefers the full spelling.