What is Phone Number

29 בספטמבר 2009

Correct Phone Number Format


Over the year we collect a lot of contacts data, From business cards in meetings, in-coming phone calls and even the highly sophisticated piece of paper or restaurant napkin.


The only thing dues number has in common is that they are related to a phone device, either land line of cellular phone.


The ITU is a group that setup the standards for world wide communication. One of the standard they set is E.164 for Telephone Numbers structure.


So Phone numbers all over the world act according to the same basic rules :


International Access CodeCountry CodeArea CodePhone Number


For example Sela main switch board number should be “00 972 3 6176666” (no leading zeros on area code).


International Access Code


But how do I know what is the proper ‘International Access Code’ ?, In Israel it is 00 for direct access or 012/013/014/018 for selecting a specific international access phone company.


For our help come the ‘+’ sign. putting ‘+’ before the country code insure that where ever we are the proper default ‘International Access Code’ would be supplied by the phone company we are currently using.


So our number look now like this – “+972 (3) 6176666”, beside the ‘+’ sign we can use any combination of legal white spaces which are : () – . therefore making “+972 (3) 617-6666” and “+972 (3) 617.6666” both legal and correct.


Outlook for the rescue


When ever we edit a contact card in Outlook and changing a phone number, outlook tires to guess the fields from the numbers we typed. Microsoft implemented multiple Local conventions for writing telephone numbers and we can help outlook by writing the number in a recognized format like the the following format :


[+Country Code] (Area Code) Number [x Extension]


where Country Code and extension are optional and default to current country code set on the desktop machine and no extension.


We can also press the phone type button and get a dialog for editing the fields manually.


Phone Number Editing


Important Note – Outlook doesn’t store the number in separate fields in its data-store. the same guessing process is done by all application that uses the data for telephony purposes.


But Here comes the Pain…


I guess most of you don’t have their address books organised in this way and switching a large address book to this format can and is a big pain in the a..


But from personal experience the pain worth it when looking at the gain. When I first done the switch it took me couple of hours for ~1200 contacts.


So how do we do it ??, I used combination of Excel and Find/Replace on CVS file exported from outlook and then after all transformation imported back to outlook, but you can pick your favour method.


Sadly the only true method is writing the number correctly from day one but we always learn this too late.


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