Numbers: Alphanumeric phone numbers II

May 28, 2009: Issue 291


We don’t use letters in phone numbers.

Our reason of long standing is that letters make readers work too hard. Then there’s the potential for confusion between the letter O and the numeral 0. While words might help TV viewers and radio listeners remember a number, they’re unnecessary in print and online.

With new technology, alphanumeric numbers are moving from inconvenient to impossible. Check out a Treo or BlackBerry keypad and try to guess how to dial 1-800-AZALEAS.

If a company provides only an alphanumeric number, take a minute to translate it into numbers. (And make sure you use an old-fashioned phone.)

Contest: Back when cities had single area codes, New York City’s was 212. Do you know why? Tell us, and you could win a prize.

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