Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, June 22, 1998

Abbreviations the postal way

By MYRON HEUER

For over 20 years, the U.S. Postal Service has promoted its abbreviations of the names of states.

It wants just two letters per state. I can't get used to the new abbreviations.

We live in Wisconsin. I used to abbreviate it this way ­ Wisc. or Wis.

Now WISC is the call letters for a TV station in Madison. Now, I must use the two letters WI, both upper case and with no period after them. In this case, simple enough.

But, what does MI stand for? It could be Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, or Michigan. This a multiple choice question with the answer being Michigan. Minnesota is MN. Missouri, obviously MO, and Mississippi is MS.

Alabama was Ala. Now the post office wants it changed to AL. Trouble is AL could be Alaska, which is now is AK. Arkansas is AR, but could be Arizona, which is now AZ.

Maine is ME. TN is for Tennessee. MT is for Montana, but also could be mountain time.

Now, if Wisconsin is suppose to be WI, why is Pennsylvania PA, instead of PE? By using the first two letters, Montana should be MO. But Missouri laid claim to those letters long time ago. California is CA instead of Cal. and Nebraska is NE instead of Neb.

Four of the states are "New," York, Jersey, Mexico and Hampshire . . . NY, NJ, NM and NH. These make sense.

Same with the north and south states . . . Dakota and Carolina. . . ND, SD, NC, and SC. Also making sense are OK in place of Okla., KY for Ken. and VT in place of Ver.

The post office says that by using two letters, instead of three or four, will make it easier, and therefore, faster for them.

What happens if some stubborn person like me puts Tenn., Minn., or Calif. on their letters? Or heaven forbid, you write Tennessee, Minnesota, or California.

I understand the post office has scanners to sort the mail. Does it spit out the letters with the wrong abbreviation?


I've always wondered ­ would a fly without wings be called a walk?


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