Writing on the Bottom Line of Postcards

Hi everyone!
Some of my postcards have a line at the bottom that says, “Do not write below this line”. So, the question is - do I write below the line or not? It seems like a big waste of space not to. I have only once seen anything from the postal service on that bottom line. When I saw it, it was a line of horizonal white tape. I do not plan to write any of the address or postcrossing number there - maybe just a longer message! What do you think? Picture as example! Thanks!!


Hey! Post office worker here. So, yes, you can - but it may be covered by this line full of little black dashes. It’s a barcode that helps with sorting. Sometimes though, we put a sticker on it that’s easily removed (no residue) with those lines instead of covering your writing. It depends on the post office, but usually, the text is still readable, and it for sure doesn’t need that much space, LOL. You could probably fit both the marking and two more sentences.


Personally, I try to leave at least a bit of space on the bottom (message area, not address) because of that barcode. I have received lovely cards with a barcode printed on the bottom that ends up obscuring the name and/or final sentence of the message. I agree that the text is still largely readable, but there are times where it’s tricky depending on the handwriting.

Sometimes the card is blessed with the removeable sticker barcode :slight_smile:


This has happened to me enough times (with received cards) that I avoid writing in that space in the cards I send out. I usually put a strip of washi tape across the bottom.

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Thank you! That makes sense! It’s weird that the barcode gets put on some cards and not all. I guess it depends on who is working that day! :grinning:

I’d highly recommend not writing anything in that area that is important to the recipient. Today I received two cards where I couldn’t read the signature and last few sentences because they were covered by the barcode. Two other cards (today was a bonanza day of 8 received postcards) luckily had the washi-tape like sticker on them and I was able to read the signatures.
I’ll add decorations such as washi tape or little drawings, but no text, to that area of a postcard. It’s just so sad when the recipient can’t read the message due to the printed code.
Question for @toadallycool - why do I sometimes see neon orange barcodes on the front of postcards when there’s a black barcode on the back of the postcard? I’ve always wondered because it’s not consistent.
4 / 8 postcards - black barcode on back and neon orange on the front of the postcard - 1 of these had a sticker
2 / 8 postcards - black and neon orange barcode on the back - 1 of these had the sticker
2 / 8 postcards - neon orange barcode on the front only, no black barcode at all

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I’ve also heard on the Forum from US members that cards being sent to the US should also leave that space empty as well because if it’s full with no room for a bar code then the card gets moved into hand sorting delaying delivery - is this true?

Unfortunately, my post office is too small to be sorting mail, so I cannot be sure. But the barcode marking is pretty small, so you don’t need to leave too much room. It’s about the same “width” of a sentence in regular handwriting, if that makes any sense.

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Yes… sometimes the machines think “oh no, today I don’t like to work that much… only every second postcard / letter gets a code!”

You don’t really think that these barcodes are handstamped??

The barcode contains address informations and is generated automatically!

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I never said that they were hand stamped at all. And I guess I didn’t realize that underneath the tape was a barcode because not every postcard has the tape on it. I am new at this, you know. I am only asking questions and looking for helpful responses. I have only received a couple of postcards so far.


Neon orange barcodes are printed by the German sorting machines instead of the black one you get in the US - sometimes they are printed on the wrong side of the card, usually they are on the address side.
But maybe there are some kind of rules about when to print on pictureside or address side?

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On my sent cards, sometimes I write Happy Postcrossing in that space (on the note half of the card only, not on the address side) that way if it gets a barcode, they can probably still figure out what it says. Or write happy holidays, happy new year, etc. sometimes I make a little drawing there, or put a sticker there.
My received cards seem about 50/50 for having the barcode (black ink) printed on it.

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Most cards I receive from the USA have three barcodes printed on: a neon orange one on the front side, USPS’ black barcode on the writing side and another neon orange code on the writing side printed on by Deutsche Post.

I just checked some envelopes I received from the USA and they all have an orange barcode on the back too, so I guess the ones on the front sides are put on the cards by USPS too…


For cards for handsorting the machine indeed decides not to print a barcode. Also there can be technical issues, like superlow level of ink, or two cards sliding through the machine as one. And there is a (rarely used) mode without barcode.

So yes, sometimes it does depend on who/what is working that day.

Drawings, okay. But please no stickers or washi/tapes. Such things can fall off resp. land on the belts resp. can even block the camera.

(Yes, problems with stickers apply to the whole card basically, but the lower half is more problematic, in my experience as occasional machine handler)


The orange barcode is unique to that piece of mail, while the black barcode is unique to the zip code/postal route.

Early in the sorting process an image of the letter (or postcard) is taken and if the system cannot read the address the orange barcode is printed on it. This allows the machine to identify the letter later to add the black barcode once a worker has seen the image and manually read the address.


You mean ‘a human has read the adress personally on a screen and typed the zip-code into the database-info for that piece of mail’.

At least here in Austria, once a piece of mail is out of machine-sorting-river, it’s forwarded via the hand-sorting-stream (with a few exceptions when a sorting centre tries machines again on mail they received as hand-sorted).

edit to add: of course, sometimes one barcode is from country A and the second (and third …) is from country B

Believe it or not, there are days when the machines don’t seem to feel like working. Half the mail I receive has the bar-codes and cancellations either on the wrong side or not there at all.


Please bear with our sense of sarcasm around here. We really are pretty much good people.



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I think it depends on the country of sending and delivering. I’m always filling my postcards to the brim, and I never had anyone complaining.