telephone number formats

Subject: telephone number formats
From: "Engstrom, Douglas D." <EngstromDD -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 13:26:26 -0500

This is written in reply to:

>Anyone know where I can find "standard formats" for various countries'
>telephone numbers. I know that most places use something other than
1(ddd)ddd->dddd, but I hate to depend on examples found at commercial
web sites.
>Thanks for your help.

>Walter Hanig


A couple of years ago, I produced our company's International Telephone
Directory. On the question of phone number formats, there's bad news
and there's worse news. The bad news is that for the most part, there
is no standard format. The worse news is that everyone thinks there is.
The even worse news is that most people think that they know it.

The phone, of course, doesn't care a bit about spaces, periods, commas,
parenthesis, etc. Those devices exist purely to make things a little
easier on the human trying to remember the number and dial it correctly.
As long as the get the right digits in right order, that's all the phone
really cares about.

We finally resolved the problem by making the phone number an open text
field of a gazillion spaces, and having our information sources supply
all the numbers needed to place a long-distance call the their phone,
except for carrier access numbers and country code. (Country codes were
handled in the country heading.) They could punctuate their number any
way they wanted to. The results were a bit inconsistent, but as
residents of the country in question, they probably made a better guess
than we would have, and we were able to shift all blame for
"mis-formatted" numbers to the info source rather than us lowly

Doug Engstrom
engstromdd -at- phibred -dot- com

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