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What is the proper way to typeset a telephone number? The number would be of the format:


For example:

+31 6 21123234 5

(If these are the proper english terms...)

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Disclaimer: I know that there probably isn't THE correct answer. Moreover, this might not even be the perfect place for such questions to be asked. But I know may people with great interest in typography roam this website and this question might be of interest for many of us! – Ingo Nov 8 '11 at 19:26
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I think that in these cases is good to refer to some standards, such as those of the International Telecommunication Union: E.123 : Notation for national and international telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and web addresses. (Section 2 Notation for National and International Telephone Numbers, of the English version).

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There is the telprint package, but it is designed for the German format for telephone numbers.

Examples from the manual:

\telprint{0761/12345} ==> 07\,61/1\,23\,45
\telprint{01234/567-89} ==> 0\,12\,34/5\,67\leavevmode\hbox{-}89
\telprint{+49 (6221) 297} ==> +49~(62\,21)~2\,97
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The European Union recommendations can be found here.

  • Indicate the number in its international form.

  • Prefix the international dialling code with a plus sign ‘+’ (no following space) indicating the need to add the prefix for international calls.

  • After the international dialling code and a space, the complete number, including the regional code if there is one, is presented in a single block:

               +33 140633900

  • An extension number is separated from the main number by a hyphen. Do not pair off the digits of an extension number. They appear in a single block:

               +32 222020-43657

It goes without saying that this is the worst method possible to print a number in order to scan and remember it.

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Also fails to deal with the 'omitted' part you get in code in, for example, UK phone numbers. (So my area code is 01604 if dialling in the UK, but you drop the leading zero from outside the UK.) – Joseph Wright Nov 8 '11 at 21:27
@JosephWright Of course: they simply seem not to know what telephone numbers are in the real world. That's rather common for EU bureaucrats. – egreg Nov 8 '11 at 21:30
About par for the course for the EU... – Brent.Longborough Nov 8 '11 at 23:26

There was a paper as to how the brain perceives and remembers numbers; grouping is important in this respect. The paper made a particular mention of the French way of grouping numbers by two and the difficulty in remembering it this way. Formats depend on areas. I would not use any brackets or dashes, they just complicate the reading of the number. A simple

+971 4 294 0420
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