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Dane County Land Information Office

Street Name and Addressing Guidelines or Best Practices

The naming of streets and the addressing of structures is not generally given much thought by the residents of a city, village, town or county. However, the lack of attention to these tasks can create unintended confusion. The consideration of the adoption of street names and the assigning of addresses, provides a level of order to a community and making is easier to locate places and facilities.

The following are a list of guidelines or best practices that should be considering in the naming of streets and addressing of structures. This document is not intended to be a comprehensive or strict set of rules, but rather to set of considerations when naming streets or assigning addresses. It is hope that this will assist municipal partners in their role as street naming and addressing authority.

Address Numbers

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Address Numbering Guidelines

An address is key element to describe the specific location of a building, an apartment, or a plot of land. The most commonly used way to locate a specific property is the assigned house or premise address. House or premise addresses are used daily by private citizens, postal service, delivery services, utility companies and public safety to locate specific places. Street names provide a linear reference and the assigned address number creates a unique identifier for each building. Uniformity is a basic requirement to assure that any given property can be quickly and easily located.

Since County residents rely on a central 911 dispatch center for public safety services, address assignment methodologies must be uniform throughout the County, regardless of the addressing authority. The safety and welfare of residents in Dane County depends on the ability of emergency services to quickly locate every property. Addressing must be given a high priority during the development review process to assure consistency. A good address system should be easy to implement, easy to use, and predictable. The most common method for counties and municipalities meet these objectives is through the use of the addressing grid. This system defines ranges of numbers in a grid pattern, allowing flexibility for future development while maintaining the order of existing and approved developments. A good address grid system requires minimal change with respect to addresses that are already in place. The transition from one grid system to another can create potential addressing conflict, so care must be taken to understand the relation so a given addressing grid in respect to one neighbors addressing grid.

Address Numbering Guidelines


  • Understand the addressing grid meridian/base line that exists with the municipality that provides a reference for the 100 block design.
  • Avoid using the same ending numbers block after block. Attempt to stagger the beginning numbers on the street block such as 8101 & 8102 on the first block and 8203 & 8204 on the second block.
  • Avoid using the same ending numbers sequence for neighboring parallel streets. Attempt to stagger the beginning numbers on the parallel streets such as 8101 & 8102 on one street and 8103 & 8104 on the neighboring parallel street.
  • Even numbers should always be on one side of the street, and odd on the other. A common practice is to place Even numbers on the north and west sides of streets and Odd numbers on the south and east sides of streets.
  • When possible, use a minimum address sequence of four numbers rather than two (sequential) in order to allow for future land division or unit additions. Most residential lots will use a sequence of four numbers. For commercial lots, the number spacing varies. Number sequencing can be increased or decreased, or skipped, on opposite sides of the street or floor plan in order to maintain proper ascending or descending addresses. For example, platted lots along a curve may skip numbers in the sequence in order to maintain proper ascending or descending numbers. The goal is always to have the next building number higher than the previous one.
  • For curving streets avoid changing the addressing grid at each curve. Rather, adopt the addressing grid that makes up the predominant direction of the given street name, be it south/north or east/west.
  • Avoid assigning building addresses to limited access roads.  The address should be assigned to street that provides direct access to addressed building.  This was a common practice for big box facilities to have an address to a major road for marketing purposes.  However, in the time of personal navigation devices this practice does not assist in navigation to a business and creates other challenges and delays for public safety.

Single Address Structure

  • For newly platted lands a unique preliminary address should be asigned to each lot.
  • Corner lots should have preliminary addresses assigned from each street upon which they have frontage.
  • Avoid alpha characters, fractions or hyphenations for a building number or any interior unit, suite, tenant, apartment number.

Multi Address Structures

  • For multi-tenant buildings, a consideration on whether to use suites or whole address numbers is based on the location and style of the primary entrance.
    • For a single building entrance and the entrance to the tenant space is from a common hallway or vestibule, then each tenant gets a suite number.
    • For tenant space that have their own exterior entrance, then each get a whole address number.
    • The same for duplexes, 1 door = address + apt 101/102 (side by side) or apt 101/201 (2 story type); 2 exterior doors = their own individual address (ie 901/903 Abc St).
  • If the building has more than one story, then tenant unit addresses will use a three-digit or a four-digit unit number, depending on what floor you are on. The first digit of each unit number will indicate on which floor of the building each unit is located (i.e., #101 first floor, #201 second floor, etc.). The first two digits of each unit on the 10th floor on up will indicate on which floor of the building each unit is located (i.e., # 1001 tenth floor etc.). Unit numbers usually start at a given corner, then ascend as you walk down the hallway, odd numbers on the south or east side, even numbers on the opposite north or west side. Numbers may need to be skipped, depending on the location of the entry door into the unit, to keep the numbers flowing in an ascending pattern without “backtracking” (i.e. having a lower number located past a higher number as you walk down the hall). Units or suites located below grade will use a one- or two-digit numbering system.
  • Tenant build outs, entrance relocations or other changes may require address changes to other existing tenant spaces or adjacent parcels. A raze and reconstruction may also require an address change to the parcel and possibly to the surrounding parcels.
  • For assigning apartment unit numbers, start with the floor that has the greatest number of apartments. Then work the floors above/below to try and match. For public safety response purposes, use “corner anchor/stacked/common points” numbers on each floor. This results in the same ending numbers at the corner of the building for each floor, or the same ending number located just the left of the stairwell, etc. Skipping unit numbers may be necessary to keep the numbers from “backtracking”.


Dane County Road Naming Criteria

City of Madison Street Naming Guidlines

City of Fitchburg Addressing Guidlines

Street Naming

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Street Naming

Street names are used daily by private citizens, postal service, delivery services, utility companies and public safety as a linear reference to locate specific places. The street naming process is generally done through the platting or subdivision process, with suggested street names proposed by a developer. After a review process that includes the county, the final acceptance of a street name is done through a resolution by the Street Naming Authority (city, village or town) that the development is within. Street name changes may also be undertaken by the Street Naming Authority. When approving a street name, care should be taken to understand the base name of the street name is compared to the pre and post modifiers. The United States Postal Service mandates a list of approved street name post-types that should be followed.

Street Naming Guidlines

  • Street names should not duplicate or closely approximate street names already assigned within a municipal jurisdiction. Using the same names with different spellings should not be considered unique names.
    • Example:   Dani Court and Danny Court should be considered a duplicate.
  • Try to avoid exact duplicate road names used in other part of the county. Different road type suffix should not constitute a different road name. Road names should be considered independently of road type suffix.
    • Example:   Maple Street and Maple Lane should not to be considered different. The road name is “Maple”
  • Names containing another road name within them may not be an exact duplicate and therefore could be allowed.
    • Example: Maple Road and Maple Tree Road should be considered unique names and could be allowed to co-exist.
  • Avoid the use of postal suffixes, prefixes or directionals as street names.
    • Example:   Terrace Street, East Avenue
  • Directionals should not be used as a suffix and post-directionals should be avoided.
    •  Example:   Yellow Street East, Yellow East
  • Special characters such as apostrophes, hyphens, decimals, or periods should be avoided. This characters create problems for databases and signage used for 911 and mailing, and are strongly discouraged.

  • Use the most common spelling of a street name.
    •  Example:   “Dakota” and not “Dacota”; or “Wind”, and not “Wynd”
  • Names that tend to be mispronounced or misspelled or are difficult to pronounce or spell should not be used.
    • Example:   Reign, Parmesan or Aqueous
  • Different forms of a word could be considered so long as a different distinct name is created. However, discretion should be used to keep from having very similar road names within close proximity to another.
    • Example:   Forest Road, Forester Road, and Forestry Road would be allowed to co-exist
  • In cases of optional multiple words or hyphenated words, all configurations of the same phrase or word should be considered duplicate.
    • Example:   Sandstone, Sand Stone, and Sand-Stone, are all considered the same and should not be allowed to duplicate
  • A municipality is required by state statute to formally adopt a new street name or change a street name by resolution. The resolution should recorded with the County Register of Deeds.

  • A street should only have one name and should have the same name throughout its entire length.
    • If a street jogs sharply, avoid giving a another name to the portion of the street running in the different direction.
    • If the street is not a through street, but is broken by intervening land uses and is laid out in substantially the same location at a more distant point, the same name should be used on all of the "links."

  • Communities have a meridian/base line that divides the community into east/west, north/south sectors and the starting point for an addressing grid. It is not required that the prefixes "East," "West," "North," and "South" be used if a continuous numbering system is used.

  • Avoid corporation names or a business name.

  • The singular version of a Street Type should only be used.  Avoid the use of plural street types.
    • Example:   Circles, Courts, Hills, Streets and other plural types should be avoided.
  • The name of a living individual should not be used.

  • If useful, consider use naming themes in subdivisions or even larger geographic areas such as quadrants. Choosing names related to a single theme, such as birds, flowers, planets, etc., could be considered as a means of general identification for streets in a subdivision.

  • To make it easier to map street names, consider short street names for short road lengths.

  • Only street name post-types designated by the United States Postal Service Addressing Standard should be used.