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How to Format Phone Numbers in AP Style


Journalists adhere to style guidelines when writing articles; those most often used are found in the Associate Press Stylebook, which is updated on a yearly basis. There are specific stylistic instructions for weights, measurements, parts of speech and usage. Phone numbers are no exception. The AP Stylebook indicates a particular method for including this information in journalistic writing.

Place the area code within parenthesis. For example, a Lexington, Kentucky phone number would begin with (859) when using AP style guidelines.

Include a space between the area code and the local prefix.

Separate the local prefix and the last four numbers with a dash. When finished, the AP formatted number should look like this: (859) 425-2255 -- which is the main number for the Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government.

Format toll free numbers in the same manner outlined as above, placing the 800 number area code in parenthesis, inserting a space, and then separating the local prefix from the last four digits with a hyphen.

Abbreviate the word "extension" and separate it from the phone number with a comma when including a telephone number with an extension, such as (859) 555-1212, ext. 6731.

Insert the country code and, if necessary, the city code in parenthesis, such as (44-20) 7353-1515, for international phone numbers.

About the Author

Based out of the bluegrass of Lexington, Kentucky, Joe Lewis began his freelance writing career in 2002 as a columnist for Decipher, Inc., and Worlds Apart. His opinions and analysis in the realms of technology, search engine optimization and social media have also been featured in both WebProNews and Attribute Magazine.

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