Letter-Writing: Postcards

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting mail is a ton of fun, but in an increasingly digital world, writing it can sometimes be hard. This blog post series about Letter Writing aims to make it easier. 

With summer finally here, let the travels begin! The Boy and I are currently travelling back from Paris and our Honeymoon, but I'm sure I'm not the only one off to see exotic sites this summer. The world is an exciting place with lots of neat sites, and it's only natural to want to share the experience with your nearest and dearest back home. A postcard is the perfect way to do that! 

And hey, even if you're not travelling they're pretty fun to get (and to send!)

Before talking about how to write a great postcard, take a moment. Picture a postcard in your head and really look at it-A postcard typically is a smallish piece of paper (usually card-stock quality). Most often 4x6 though not always,  so there is not a lot of room to write. one side of the postcard typically has an image of some sort. The other side of the postcard is where the message will go; this side is divided into two parts by a line. One the right-hand side you will put a stamp, and the address you wish to send the postcard too. On the left-hand side, many postcards have captions explaining what the image on the other side is, room for you to write, and a space should be left at the bottom for a barcode to be added. 

You've surely seen a postcard in your day; none of this is new information. Why bring it up then?

The layout of a postcard reminds the writer of several things:

  •  1) You have a picture to help tell a story (or give an idea of what to write about) 
  •  2) There is no return address; a postcard writer is not expecting a reply. 
  •  3) You do not have a lot of room to write.

What does all this mean?

  • 1) The picture is arguably is the most important part of your postcard. Unlike other letters, postcards give you visuals. When picking out postcards to send, make sure the image really helps capture what you want to say, especially if you are travelling! Some postcards will show images of the local sites (many will show several small pictures); others might have an illustrations or quote. Think not just about what you love, but what image will give your postcard recipient the best sense of your story and what they will most like. if nothing in a store is striking your fancy, don't despair! You can also make your own postcards either using services like Postigram or DIYing your own.

  • 2) Postcards don't include a place for return addresses because they are (most often) sent while travelling. Travelers will not often be a one place long enough to get much mail. What this means though, is when you are writing it is a bit different than your typical personal correspondence. Don't ask questions; you won't get the answers in a reply. This doesn't mean you need to focus on you, you, you though. The picture gives you a great starting topic. Why did you pick that picture out? What funny incident happened, or which sites have you seen? 

  • 3) You do not have a lot of room to write- so make your words count. Especially if there is a caption on the postcard explaining the picture, make sure you are not redundant. Focus on the personal aspects of your travels, things they can only get from you, as opposed to a travel show. What was your reaction to the trip? What did someone say? What did you joke about, or what was frustrating (though, in general, stay away from too many negative things/ You do not have a lot of room, so you will likely come off as whiny. Keep to the positive). Also, keep your handwriting neat because smaller writing is harder to read. 

A few more great things to remember: 

  • Postcards take less postage (at least when mailing domestically!). So while you can certainly put a first class stamp on it without a problem, consider getting a cheaper postcard stamp! 
  • Stamps can be pretty; get one to help tell your story, especially if the card is going out of country.

Looking for more tips on writing a great postcard ? Try these articles:


  1. Wonderful tips! I love mailing and receiving postcards.

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  2. They are great, right? I'm actually just addressing a postcard now, lol.

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  3. It was so fun seeing all the postcards at your wedding! I think I found three from me :)

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