Numbers: Phone numbers

February 7, 2002: Issue 9

SIM STYLE: The 411 on phone numbers
SIM style uses a slash, not parentheses, to set off area codes in phone numbers. Omit the initial 1 that signifies long-distance and toll-free numbers.
However, do include the 011, set off by a slash, to signify an international number.
incorrect: 1-800-474-5568
incorrect: (800) 474-5568
correct: 800/474-5568
correct: 011/44-870-1600-333

It’s also SIM style to use numerals, not letters, in phone numbers. Acronyms can be helpful for remembering phone numbers, but readers seeing a number in print need not rely on memory. Forcing them to search for letters on the keypad is probably more frustrating than it is helpful.
incorrect: 800/845-SILK
correct: 800/845-7455

For more information, see Telephone numbers in the Numbers section of the SIM stylebook.

GRAMMAR: A(n) obvious choice
In most cases, the choice between the articles “a” and “an” is clear. But for those words that muddy the waters, pay more attention to how the word sounds than how it is spelled in choosing the proper article. Use “a” if the word starts with a sounded h (as in history or hotel) or a long u (as in university or European). Use “an” if the word starts with a silent h (as in hour or honor) or a short u (as in uncle or umbrella).
incorrect: Tucked into an historical area
correct: Tucked into a historical area

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