phone number formatting

some hump at head office just implemented a company-wide policy that phone numbers in our email signatures have to be universal, which is fine. but they’ve chosen the format using decimals to seperate the numbers.

this strikes me as slightly retarded.

what’s your preferrred phone # format?

(123) 123-4567



Do you mean: 800155521234 would be (800)555-1234?

I go with decimals.


I just like the clean look. What’s retarded about it? :dubious:

I think they mean 800.555.1234

That’s my preferred way of doing it anyway.

you’re both heathens!

I’m with Mr. Blue Sky. Though I have no aesthetic objection to the decimal method, I’m all about the dashes. In fact, I’m too lazy for the parentheses at this point, espeically since I live in a ten-digit-dialing area, anyhow.

You mean 212.555.1212 ?

Using decimals in phone numbers is something I started to see about 15 years ago. Early adopters seemed to be mostly design-related companies; I first saw numbers formatted with decimals on the letterhead of architecture and graphic design firms. From there, it spread.

Why use them as a standard? I can’t think of a good reason, except that a parenthesis for the area code seems to imply that dialing it is optional, when in fact it’s required in areas with ten digit dialing. The use of decimal places instead of dashes? It looks clean and stylish, in some way.

I’d rather there just be a space: 800 555 1212.

The nice thing about (xxx)yyy-zzzz is that it clearly and immediately identifies the number as a phone number. Sometimes there’s no ambiguity, but sometimes there might be, and this phone-number-specific formatting removes that possibility.

I don’t really see decimals as retarded, but I prefer dashes. The main reasons for me are

[li] Dashes look neater to me.[/li][li] When printing, decimals often get lost in the text.[/li][li] The little dash sign on the number keypad is somehow more convenient to me than the decimal.[/li][/ul]

Of course, so does putting phone: or some other suitable identifier in front of it. I prefer the parentheses/dashes, but wouldn’t object to decimals.

It’s a global thing. They have been doing it that way in Europe (at least Belguim, where my people are from) for a long time. I think it looks cleaner too.

If it’s a global thing, then you need to use:


since, globally speaking, not all telephone numbers are in zone 1.

My company went to the decimal format as our standard about a year ago. It’s not my preferred format, but I don’t mind it that much, especially since I don’t usually have to type it. My signature just automatically appears at the end of every email so it gets included without me having to think about it.

Ugh…I work for a global company, and they occasionally try and force that one down our throats as well. I think it’s a geek chic thing. As in:

“Oooo! 123.456.7890 makes it kinda look like an IP address! K-rad!”

Eff that…If they want me to start using decimals on it, they’ll have to pry the dash key off my keyboard.
…and even then, I’ll just use the ASCII code…

Which is exactly the reason NOT to use decimals for phone numbers. (800)555-1212 is immediately recognized, and unmistakably a U.S. (or Canada) phone number. You don’t even need to preface it with “Phone:” if you don’t want to. That recognition is powerful and should be taken advantage of. It doesn’t need to look cool.

It’s not universal. The UK is closer to the US format, although always spaces and never hyphens. I’ve never ever seen a decimal format outside of mainland Europe.

An international listing would look like +44 (0)161 123 4567 or (44) 0161 123 4567. A national one would be 01473 123456, or 020 8123 4567. The spaces are important, because the geographic designation is often clear (the last example is London, which would be recognised by most people).

How many contact management software programs even support this? Unless there’s an option I can’t find, MS Outlook converts anything I type to (xxx) yyy-zzzz.

We tend to use spaces here too. Australian numbers are eight digits, with two digit area codes, so domestically you’d see:

(02) 9876 5432

Internationally you’d see:

61 2 9876 5432