A telephone directory,also known as a telephone book, phone book, or white/yellow pages, is a listing of telephone subscribers in a geographical area. Subscriber names are generally listed in alphabetical order, together with their postal or street address and telephone number.
It may also provide instructions about how to use the telephone service in the local area, may give important numbers for emergency services, utilities, hospitals, doctors, and organizations who can provide support in times of crisis. It may also have civil defense or emergency management information. It may also contain be transit maps, postal code guides, or stadium seating charts, as well as advertising.
In principle every subscriber in the geographical coverage area is listed. But for a fee, subscribers may request the exclusion of their number from the directory, primarily for privacy and security concerns. Their number is then said to be “unlisted” (American English), “ex-directory” (British English) or “private” (Australia and New Zealand).
Telephone directories can be published in hard copy or in electronic form. In the latter case, the directory can be provided as an online service through proprietary terminals or over the Internet, or on physical media such as CD-ROM. In many countries directories are both published in book for and also available over the Internet. Printed directories were usually supplied free of charge.
The rise of the Internet and smart phones in the 21st Century greatly reduced the need for a paper phone book. Some communities, such as Seattle and San Francisco, sought to ban their unsolicited distribution as wasteful, unwanted and harmful to the environment.
In the US, under current rules and practices, mobile phone and Voice over IP listings are not included in telephone directories.
A telephone directory and its content may be known by the color of the paper it is printed on.
- White pages generally provides residential and business telephone number by alphabetic order.
- Yellow pages, golden pages, A2Z, or classified directory is usually a “business directory,” listing businesses and other organizations according to the goods or services they offer.
- Grey pages, sometimes called a “reverse telephone directory,” allowing subscriber details to be found for a given number. Not available in all jurisdictions for reasons of privacy.
Other colors may have other meanings; for example, information on government agencies is often printed on blue pages or green pages.
A reverse telephone directory is sorted by number, which can be looked up to give the name and address of the subscriber.
Telephone Directory Resources
- AnyWho – AnyWho is a free service that allows you to lookup who a phone number is registered to.
- SmartPages – Find online Yellow Pages business listings, phone numbers, addresses, maps, driving directions and more in the YP.com online directory.
- Switchboard – Find business and people in Switchboard white and yellow pages directory.
- Ultimate Pages – Looking for someone’s address or phone number? Use the New Ultimates white pages directory to find information on lost friends or relatives. Search free and premium listings for best results.
- WhitePages.com – Free people and business search. More and better contact information.