How to Send a Handwritten Letter in the Age of One-Second Messages

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why this article

This article originated from a small obsession of mine: I think that even in this era of mobile Internet, letters and postcards still have their meaning. Of course it is not as convenient as chat messages and emails, but it is its original value to be able to hold other people’s thoughts and blessings in your hands.

1 How long has it been since you saw a physical letter (doing a bank card does not count)?

But compared to decades ago, not only the way letters are delivered has changed, but many people have never understood letters at all. This article holds the mentality of “Picture Yile”, and hopes to share a little bit from a layman’s point of view from writing to receiving letters, as well as various pitfalls that may be stepped on.

I don’t have much experience, I don’t have much talent, and what’s more, the requirements for sending letters in different regions are not the same. Omissions and mistakes are inevitable. I hope everyone will bear with me.

A letter format and address

Even if you haven’t actually written a letter, you should have more or less familiarity with the format of letters and postcards:


What needs to be written is as marked. To add some details:

  • Recipient information: When sending ordinary mail, the recipient’s phone number can be written or not. However, when the mail route is unclear (for example, it is the first time to mail to this person/area), it is recommended to write it, which can greatly improve the delivery success rate. The contact number must be filled in when sending registered mail.
  • Sender’s information: Only when sending registered mail is it mandatory to fill in the sender’s information, including phone number. If registered mail cannot be delivered, it will be returned according to this address, while regular mail will not be returned.
  • Reserved barcode area: It is recommended to leave an area of ​​at least 5.5cm*2.5cm somewhere on the postcard (usually the lower left corner) to paste the barcode. If you can predict in advance that you and the post office do not have stamps, you need to set aside a larger area for postage stickers (if there is really no space, you can only stick them on the front).

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan/International Mail

The format of mail from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan is slightly different from that of international mail: you need to indicate the destination country/region in Chinese and local language on the first line, and then write the address according to the local address writing standards, for example, the following two address (guess where both addresses are?).

600 S Ikea Way,
CA 91502,
United States

as well as:

Ship to Japan TO JAPAN
〒160-0022 Shinjuku 3-chome 1-13, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
B1F-3F Keio Shinjuku Oifen Building 1F

If you don’t know how to write your friend’s address properly, you can go to Google Maps to check the standard writing of local addresses. It should be noted that if the address system in the recipient’s area is too complicated and confusing (such as in some cities in Japan and the United Kingdom), please double-check with the recipient how the address is written. From personal experience, I will ask my friends in Japan for the addresses they usually use, ask for details on sentence breaks and line breaks, and then copy them down. Since you can receive daily bills at this address, you should also be able to receive my letter 1 .

Next, I hope that your friends can receive it as soon as possible.

Now that the letter is written, how do I deliver it?

I guess your first reaction may be that green mailbox or mailbox. But if you are not familiar with the process of sending letters, please overcome your social fear and go to the staff to consult related matters in detail. The reason is that the sending requirements and specifications of letters in various places are not uniform, and putting them directly into the mailbox under unfamiliar circumstances may increase some unnecessary troubles.


See the table below (RMB Yuan) for part of the fees under the condition of not being overweight. For more detailed prices after calculating the weight, you can log on to the official website of China Post for inquiries.

target area Price (postcard) Price (ordinary mail) Registration fee
inside China 0.8 1.2 3
Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions 3.5 (water and land); 4 (aviation) 1.5 (water and land); 2 (aviation) 16
internationality 3.5 (water and land); 4.5 (air and water); 5 (aviation) 4 (water and land); 5.5 (air and water); 6 (aviation) 16

The difference between the three mailing methods of air, air and water and land, and water and land is the time limit. Their specific explanations are as follows:

  • Aviation: Priority delivery by means of air transport, the time limit is faster than air and water and land.
  • Use the remaining capacity of international flights to transport mail that is handled by water and land in the country of origin and destination.
  • The time limit for transportation by car, train or ship is slower than the above two kinds of letters, and the postage is cheaper.

This form is for reference only, please refer to the actual local charges.

Ordinary mail or registered mail?

You can understand registered mail as “ordinary mail with a logistics tracking system”. Registered mail will provide a tracking number to check the progress of the logistics, and the post office will also be responsible for lost items, while ordinary mail does not provide these services.

Both registered mail and flat mail have barcodes. The tracking number of the registered mail is written under the barcode of the registered mail, and you can check the logistics information with the tracking number on the official website of China Post. The barcode of ordinary mail is newly added in recent years. Its appearance and promotion2 represent the comprehensive informatization of the ordinary mail system, but it does not accept user inquiries. The two barcodes are not the same size: the size of the ordinary mail barcode is about 5.4cm*2.1cm, the size of the registered mail barcode is about 4.6cm*2.1cm (the size of the barcodes in different batches may vary slightly), please be sure to leave Make enough space.

1 Receipts, barcodes for registered mail, and barcodes for regular mail.

The staff in some areas are not familiar with the work process and may paste the barcode incorrectly or even not. Please pay more attention when sending the letter for the first time. If relevant personnel make mistakes in the process, they can be ordered to make corrections, and if necessary, they can call 11185 to file a complaint.

How to pay?

The easiest way, of course, is to stick a stamp. Stamps can be pasted more but not less, and they cannot overlap each other. For example, if you want to send international surface mail by air , you need to affix enough stamps with a total denomination of ¥6. If you do not have stamps, you can also entrust the post office to print postage stickers. But you need to pay attention to the size of the postage sticker. If there is not enough space reserved, it can only be pasted in a strange position.

There are many ways to buy stamps: you can go to the post office to buy stamps or buy discounted stamps online. If there is a need to write a lot of letters, the author still recommends buying stamps online. Post office stamps are usually loose stamps, with inconsistent face value, shape, and pattern; online stamp shopping 3 will not have such troubles, and the price is also cheaper.

1 “Paste a lot of stamps”, this is the return picture given to me by a friend in Japan 1 The size of this envelope is 12cm*20cm, the postcard you are miserable.

Because the postage fee for each letter may vary, it is recommended to bring your own stamps and post them at the post office.

1 This is what happens when you don’t bring your own stamps…

When mailing international letters, some post offices (usually branch offices in the community) are unable to accept international mail services; some post offices cannot accept international registered mail services; some staff members have never even contacted international mail service. This is also the most troublesome situation, please be patient enough to communicate with the staff, and be prepared to send letters to other post offices.

I’m ready to write! But what am I going to write…?

After Clyde and the other editors read the previous content, they all suggested that I say “something to write on a postcard”. I was a little confused at first, isn’t it “write whatever you think”?

Counting from the time I picked up the hobby of writing postcards two or three years ago, I have written more than two hundred postcards, but only received two or three. The rest of my collection is from ten years ago. So if it’s out of curiosity, it would make sense for me to say what I’ve written.

1 All the postcards and letters the fox has ever received.

At first I started writing probably because I regained my interest in handbooks, pens and colored inks, and then I always wanted to write some postcards with beautiful inks as greeting cards for friends. The content is nothing more than celebrating graduation, entering a higher school, finding a job; wishing Good health, smooth love and so on.

1 Celebrating my best friend’s 20th birthday. Pen: Platinum PPQ-300, Ink: Shaleji Black.

If I want to say when I started trying to deliver postcards again, it should be after I wished my friend a successful postgraduate entrance examination. At that time, I had a postage stamp with sculptures of Marx and Engels in my hand. I found it and pasted it on it, and wrote beside it: “Marx and Engels wish you success in the postgraduate entrance examination!” Then I put it in the mailbox. After he received it, he sent me a message. In addition to expressing his gratitude and saying that my handwriting was beautiful, he also said: “It turns out that postcards can really be delivered. I thought the postal service was gone.”

This successfully delivered postcard gave me the confidence to know that the postal service never went away. Since then, I have often asked those friends who were able to chat, “Do you want a postcard written by me”, and then tried to deliver it to all over the world, with colorful ink and strange content.

Some are sharing with friends the new songs I heard and their thoughts on the lyrics; some are expressing their gratitude to their friends for taking me to her city; She is so cute” and other daily routines, and I also wrote postcards to several editors and authors of the minority, and the postcard to Clyde said to pay attention to the body (probably because I think he always stays up late in those days) .

Yes, these words are just the content of a sentence on the phone, and it is just the information that occupies a line in the chat, but once it is written on paper, that time and space will be frozen; When he got the letter, what he felt was different from the current emotion.

The postcards I received are almost like this: the children in Hainan have never experienced the snow in the Northeast; For me, I was a sophomore in high school and she was a freshman in high school. If she didn’t go to graduate school, she must have already started working, right? The most interesting one is a reply letter from the Commercial Press, the reason is that I wrote a letter to the Commercial Press, which raised some questions about OALD7. I wrote a reply letter (typed by machine, of course), answering my doubts in detail.

So if you ask me “what should be written in postcards and letters?”, I may still not be able to give you an accurate answer. My idea is that since domestic letters have completely lost the function of “notification”, you might as well write any mood you want to share: “It’s raining outside today, and the rainbow is beautiful”; I grew some garlic sprouts at home, but the garlic I bought didn’t germinate, so I’m so angry”; “The hot pot restaurant that I ate with you in Beijing before has opened next to my house, and I want to eat it again if I have the chance”; etc. There is no need for intense emotion, a trickle of daily life is enough. Because no matter what you write, it will look like “I was thinking of you” to the recipient.

1 Pocket stickers can also be organically combined with envelopes

Other bits and pieces that don’t know where to put them

Where can I buy nice postcards?

Generally speaking, as long as the postcard can obtain authorized images, the design and quality of the postcard should be guaranteed. There are many stores selling single postcards on an e-commerce website, and the price of each postcard ranges from 1 to 3 yuan. 4

1 The post-it note in the middle is handwritten by the store, very cute

In addition, some well-known IPs have also launched “postcard version” books, such as “Secret Garden” and Pusheen, among which “Secret Garden” postcard books have also been introduced in China. Some other domestic publishing houses will also sell postcard collections in the form of publications, so you can pay attention.

11 big fat cat!

Finally, we can turn our attention to some themed post offices: “Cat’s Sky City” has launched many sets of joint postcards, and the paper and printing quality are also very good.

1 Maokong × Jimmy “The Moon Can’t Remember” 1 Maokong × Cinnamon Dog Macarons 1 Who doesn’t love a gilded cinnamon dog!

About paper and the writing experience

Different postcards use different paperboards, and the writing experience of different paperboards is therefore different. It is recommended to write the zip code and address first to test the tolerance of the paper for different writing instruments before formally writing the content. Problems that may occur include: the surface coating of the cardboard is uneven and not firm, and in some cases it may be difficult to write, or even cause the pen to be blocked; the compatibility of the pen ink and the cardboard is not good, and it is not easy to ink, etc.

Since registered mail can ensure successful delivery, then I…

Yes, you can send registered mail as a method of sending documents and small items. For example, I like to put a stamped postcard in the letter, and then put some small stickers. Online store owners who sell postcards also tend to ship by registered mail.

Is a real-name system required for posting a letter?

Theoretically speaking, the real-name system is not required for domestic ordinary mail and international letters, but only for registered mail. In practice, local regulations prevail.

write at the end

Originally, the purpose of writing this article was to satisfy my own desire to write and share. I wanted to share it with my circle of friends just like other articles I wrote. There was only one purpose: to let more people start trying to write an article. Write postcards and experience this primitive way of conveying emotions. Thanks to editors like Clyde for their suggestions and encouragement, as well as the title that came up in one second (really only one second) after being changed and changed.

At the time of writing, the postal system near my home has fully recovered, and the speed of registered mail is even faster than that of many courier companies. The Lunar New Year is coming soon, why not write a letter to someone you care about.

Finally, I wish you all the best, good health, and the ability to live the life you want.

Fox, Daqing, January 8, 2023.

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