To write a postcard is a kind gesture that will be received with much delight and surprise, since nowadays, ‘snail mail’ isn’t nearly as common as it used to be. With the rise of social media and email which provide instant communication, it’s rare to receive a handwritten message.
But if you’re here, it must be because you’ve decided to write one, right? And good on you! In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about writing a postcard - from choosing the right format to what to write, and even how to mail it.
Let’s dig in.
The first step if you want to write a postcard, is first to secure your postcard. Read on to find out where you can purchase a postcard, and how to choose the perfect one that your recipient will love receiving and reading over and over again.
First of all let us start by revealing the dimensions of a typical postcard. The usual size is A6 format, measurable as such:
Do note that although this is the typical postcard size, you can definitely find postcards that are bigger or smaller than this. But this will be the standard size you will find in shops. Though it could be fun to send someone a giant postcard in the mail! (make sure it fits in the letterbox, though).
The typical layout of a postcard is split in half, and usually has a line running down the middle. To the left of the line is a blank space to write the message. To the right is a lined space to write the address.
You’ll also sometimes find a small rectangle towards the top right corner - this is a placeholder for you to stick the stamp in. We’ll get to that later.
Postcards are very easy to find. Look out for them at newsstands, bookstores, post offices, tourist information offices, airports, and convenience stores.
You’ll even find them in unexpected spots like liquor stores in some countries.
You can also buy postcards online.
Our favorite spots for buying postcards are museums, gift shops, and tourist shops. That’s because these places are more personal because they're directly related to the spot where you’re on holiday, so you’re more likely to find a card that’s relevant and tells a story.
When it comes to choosing the image for your postcard, you’ll want to get it right. After all, it's the first thing your recipient will see, and they'll form an impression of your vacation through viewing this image.
Good things to have on the front of your postcard are:
Sometimes, if you can’t choose just one photo, a great solution is to go for a postcard that has a collage with multiple photos.
It can also be fun to try to find the worst possible postcard and send that as a joke. You might pick the poorest quality photo or a pic of something completely irrelevant. This might be more appropriate for sending a postcard to a pal who gets your sense of humor, rather than a family member.
Finally, you might consider designing your own postcard online. This way, you can choose the photo yourself. If you aren’t on holiday, but just want to send someone a postcard for the fun of it, this could be a good option. You could choose a photo of you and the recipient, for example. Or perhaps a photo of your new baby or pet.
So you’ve got the perfect postcard. You know the recipient is gonna love it. But now comes an even bigger task: writing the thing.
This doesn’t need to be a complex affair. We’ve got your back. Read on for a step-by-step on getting it just right, the first time.
The first thing to know is that you need to write the address on the right side of the postcard.
Not the left side.
Not the front.
Often, postcards come ready formatted with lines for you to write the address on. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there aren’t enough lines.
Here’s what you should remember to include when writing the address:
RECIPIENT’S FIRST NAME + LAST NAME
STREET NUMBER AND NAME
ANY OTHER RELEVANT INFO SUCH AS BUILDING NAME OR APARTMENT NUMBER
TOWN + STATE + ZIP CODE
This is the typical layout for an address in the U.S.A. If your recipient is located elsewhere in the world, you might need to include other information, so that’s worth bearing in mind.
And here’s a quick reminder not to forget the country. You can’t assume the post-person will know which country your card is going to.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to be able to receive a reply. If so, you’ll want to include a return address. We suggest only doing this if you’re staying put for a while. Otherwise, if you’re moving around quite a bit, you might have moved on before you receive the reply.
The return address can be included in the address section, above the recipient’s address, to the left of the space reserved for the stamp. You’ll have to use fairly small handwriting to make sure it all fits.
You’ll want to make sure you do a little planning, to ensure you don’t run out of room or make a mess. After all, you don’t get second chances - postcards are very unforgiving like that.
The first thing we recommend doing is planning what you’re going to write. This is something we’ll help you with in the next section.
Next, it’s time to practise. There are a couple of ways you can do that. The first is by writing the postcard out in fine pencil handwriting. Then, once you’re satisfied with the content of your message, and that it all fits, you can write over the pencil with a pen. Wait a few minutes for it to dry, then erase the pencil.
Make sure you wait long enough, or you’ll have a messy ink situation on your hands.
Another way is to grab a blank piece of paper and trace the contour of the postcard. Then, draw a line down the middle, and voila! You’ve got a postcard template! The left side of that line you drew is the exact amount of space you’ve got to work with, so it’s a great way to practice.
Great! So now that you’ve a) got the perfect card and b) got the finer details down, it’s time to decide exactly what you’ll write on your postcard. We’ve broken this down into sections for you.
You’ll want to start off your message with a greeting. It’s a way of saying hello, and beginning your message on a high note. Your greeting sets the tone, as it’s the first thing your recipient will read.
There’s a pretty wide range of options to choose from, so we’ll list some of our favorites here below, from least to most formal.
Good morning / afternoon / evening
Next, you’ll probably want to include some form of personal message in your postcard. We recommend something quite touching, to show the person you are thinking of them.
This also makes it clear that you aren’t just bulk-writing a bunch of postcards and writing the same thing on all of them.
You could perhaps reference something you both did together, or share an inside joke. Here are some examples:
It’s common to make mention of the weather, especially if you’re visiting a place that’s quite far away from the recipient’s location. This really adds a dimension to the image on your postcard in helping the reader visualize where you are, so they can imagine for a moment they are there with you.
Some examples of how you can express that are:
Now for the obvious one - tell them what you’ve been up to. Assuming you’re on holiday, how’ve you been spending your time? If you’re backpacking, what’s been your favorite part about this place? Perhaps you’ve relocated, in which case you could tell them how you’re adjusting.
Whatever the situation, the person reading your postcard will want to read something about your time away, so make sure to include this. Here are a few ideas:
Finish off your postcard with a farewell message. You can keep this quite simple, or be more elaborate. The choice is yours, but we recommend keeping it short, due to the format you’re working with.
Here are some great farewell wishes you can use:
And last but not least: your name. Include your name at the end of the message, so your recipient knows it’s you.
Or alternatively, don’t include it, and let them use their powers of deduction!
We thought it might be useful to add in a little section about what not to include, due to the exposed nature of a postcard.
Don’t forget that the postperson will be able to read what you have written. A few things we recommend not writing on a postcard:
Or basically, anything that would enable any peekers to steal your identity. Remember to stay safe!
Alright, your postcard is ready, it’s looking good, it’s written well, it’s tidy, it’s thoughtful. Now all you gotta do is send it! How do you do that? You’re about to find out.
The first thing you’ll need is a stamp. These are quite easy to find. Usual places you can get them are:
Bear in mind that locations you can find stamps at will vary from country to country. But you won’t be looking for long if you visit the above places.
Once you have your stamp, you’ll need to lick the back of it (or use a self-adhesive one) and stick it on the top right corner of the postcard. Sometimes, there’s a small stamp-sized rectangle in that spot, as a placeholder.
In the U.S., you’ll pay around $1.40 to send a postcard internationally. The price will vary greatly around the world though. We wouldn’t expect you to have to pay more than $1.40.
***Make sure you buy a stamp from the country you’re sending the postcard from. A U.S. stamp will not do the trick to send a postcard from Italy.***
Your postcard is ready! Now all you need to do is send it on its way. Here’s how.
Your best bet is to pop the card into a letterbox that you’ll find on the street. Alternatively, you can drop it by a post office or USPS type of place. They’ll be able to make sure it’s sent safely for you.
If you’re posting it in a letterbox, note that you can usually find the pick-up time information on the box, so you’ll be able to know whether your card will be picked up and shipped today, tomorrow, or maybe even on Monday if it’s the weekend (some countries don’t work over the weekend, or at the very least take Sunday off).
Are you planning to spend some time (or perhaps your entire vacation) on a cruise ship, and would like to send a postcard or two while you’re there? For this you have several options.
First, you can speak to the staff on the cruise, either whilst you’re there, or by emailing them beforehand. Most cruise ships facilitate sending postcards. However, they’ll often charge a fee, and the postcards are likely to take some time to arrive.
Another way is to simply purchase a few postcards and send them the next time the cruise stops over at a port.
We thought we’d finish off this article with a customizable template that you can totally steal from us. All you need to do is replace the blank fields with the information that’s relevant to you and your holiday, and you’ll be sorted!
I’m writing to you from [place], where I’ve now been for [duration]. I’m having the best time! It’s so great to be able to discover a new part of the world. New food, new culture, a new language. Speaking of, I’ve picked up a few words in [language]. I can now say [insert phrase], which means [insert translation]. Very handy!
The weather has been fairly [describe weather] and [describe weather]. I’m really enjoying it! I’ve been spending most of my time [activity], [activity] and [activity]. Oh, by the way, [insert inside joke].
I wish you were here! We should totally come back together; we’d have a blast!
I’ll see you in a few weeks. Take care!
[insert your name]
And not just any postcard. A postcard worthy of its name! The kind of postcard the recipient will display on their fridge forever!
So there you have it. The A-Z of choosing, writing and sending a postcard. We’re pretty confident we’ve covered everything you need to know to send a postcard that’s sure to impress. Now it’s in your hands!
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go out and write a postcard!