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The Yellow Pages: An Introduction



11 Jul 2016

Yellow PagesThe Yellow Pages, like the White Pages, are a telephone directory. Found internationally, some countries call them the "golden pages" - which is a much classier name if you ask us. Instead of containing the phone number and address information of people like the White Pages, they contain the contact information for local businesses. Before Google, people searched through a printed phone directory to find business listings in their area.


History of the Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages were created by accident in 1883 in Cheyenne, Wyoming when a printer who was publishing a telephone directory ran out of the white paper he was using, and instead used yellow paper to complete the directory. Three years later, Reuben H. Donnelley published the first official YP print directory.

In 1962, an artist from New England created the now famous "Walking Fingers" logo. Henry Alexander, the artist, who worked for the New England Telephone Company for three decades never trademarked his logo and it's gone on to become an international symbol.

Today, people use the directory online, and are referred to as internet Yellow Pages or "IYP." You may also see search engine references to The Real Yellow Pages,, or Superpages. The Internet has allowed users to search worldwide instead of being limited to local businesses, business listings, and local searches.

How Are Phone Numbers Created?

Before the existence of ten-digit phone numbers, numbers typically consisted of three letters and four digits. The letters referred to the central office, the location where the switching system that the telephone line connected to was, and the numbers referred to the exact line that the caller wished to connect with. Operators stationed at the central office of each telephone company would connect the calls.

In the United States, Larger cities like New York and Boston used this three-letter and four-digit calling system, while smaller towns could place local calls by simply dialing four or five digits and not needing to give the central office abbreviation. This was due to fact that many small towns had only one central office and long distance calls were placed manually by operators.

The ten-digit plan (3-3-4) was introduced by AT&T, other phone companies, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1947. To accommodate the needs of an ever-growing network of phone lines and meet the demands for more phone numbers it was necessary that a uniform way of dialing was created.

Once the North American Numbering Plan Area (NANPA) was introduced, the first 86 area codes were established. The two- or three-letter and four- or five-digit system was replaced. While local numbers only consisted of seven-digits, direct long distance calls required the three-digit area code in addition to the preceding seven-digits.

Area Code

The first three numbers of the 10-digit phone number, are also referred to as NPA. Area codes are created by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP).

This specific number represents a specific geological area such as a city or county. NANP has made it possible to make telephone calls a simple task regardless of whether the call is local or long distance. With the demand for phone lines expanding on a yearly basis, the addition of new area codes continues with some areas having multiple area codes due to population growth.

As of today over 25 territories utilize the North American Numbering Plan including the United States and its territories, Canada, and the Caribbean.

Below is a table with the area codes in each of the 50 U.S. states.

State Area Code(s)
Alabama 205, 251, 256, 334, 938
Alaska 907 
Arizona 480, 520, 602, 623, 928
Arkansas 479, 501, 870 
California 209, 213, 310, 323, 408, 415, 424, 442, 510, 530, 559, 562, 619, 626, 628, 650, 657, 661, 669, 707, 714, 747, 760, 805, 818
Colorado 303, 719, 720, 970 
Connecticut 203, 475, 860, 959 
Delaware 302 
Florida 239, 305, 321, 352, 386, 407, 561, 689, 727, 754, 772, 786, 813, 850, 863, 904, 941, 954
Georgia 201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 209, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 219, 225, 229, 239, 248, 251, 252, 253, 256, 262, 404 
Hawaii 808 
Idaho 208
Illinois 217, 224, 309, 312, 331, 618, 630, 708, 773, 779, 815, 847, 872
Indiana 219, 260, 317, 574, 765, 812 
Iowa 319, 515, 563, 641, 712 
Kansas 316, 620, 785, 913
Kentucky 270, 345, 502, 606, 859
Louisiana 225, 318, 337, 504, 985 
Maine 207 
Maryland 240, 301, 410, 443, 667 
Massachusetts 339, 351, 413, 508, 617, 774, 781, 857, 978 
Michigan 231, 248, 269, 313, 517, 586, 616, 734, 810, 906, 947, 989 
Minnesota 218, 320, 507, 612, 651, 763, 952
Mississippi 228, 601, 662, 664, 769 
Missouri 314, 417, 573, 636, 660, 816 
Montana 406 
Nebraska 308, 402, 531 
Nevada 702, 725, 775 
New Hampshire 603 
New Jersey 201, 551, 609, 732, 848, 856, 862, 908, 973
New Mexico 505, 575 
New York 212, 315, 347, 516, 518, 585, 607, 631, 646, 716, 718, 845, 914, 917, 929 
North Carolina 252, 336, 704, 828, 910, 919, 980, 984 
North Dakota  702
Ohio 216, 234, 283, 330, 380, 419, 440, 513, 567, 614, 740, 937
Oklahoma 405, 539, 580, 918
Oregon 458, 503, 541, 971 
Pennsylvania 215, 267, 272, 412, 484, 570, 610, 717, 724, 814, 878 
Rhode Island 401 
South Carolina 803, 843, 854, 864 
South Dakota 605 
Tennessee 423, 615, 629, 731, 865, 901, 931
Texas 210, 214, 254, 281, 325, 346, 361, 409, 430, 432, 469, 512, 682, 713, 737, 806, 817, 830, 832, 903, 915, 936, 940, 956, 972 
Utah 385, 435, 801 
Vermont 802
Virginia 276, 434, 540, 571, 703, 757, 804
Washington 206, 253, 360, 425, 509, 564 
Washington, D.C. 202 
West Virginia 304, 681 
Wisconsin 262, 414, 534, 608, 715, 920 
Wyoming 307

Prefix Number

The prefix, also referred to as NXX, represents the phone carrier's central office and the specific switch that the phone line is connected to.

Line Number

The last four numbers represent the specific phone line and are assigned to the switch level in use. Having the line number allows you to add or change phones. The changing process is possible due to the number not being attached to the phone itself, but the actual phone line.

The standard phone number is only ten digits long, but there is potential to have a line extension added. Many businesses use this feature to allow multiple calls to the same central phone line while being able to handle separate calls through the added extensions.

Through a private branch exchange (PBX), a business or organization is provided the necessities to transmit intercommunication between the telephone system within the business or organization. The exchange works with the central office lines to implement the communication. 

In the business, there are multiple PBX-connected stations such as different department phones and fax machines. While these items have designated extensions, they don't have to necessarily be mapped through the standard numbering plan. Instead, the PBX system utilizes a separate numbering plan along with an additional dial plan. The second plan regulates the digit sequences that have to receive the prefix number.

What does the NPA-NXX-xxxx of a Business Phone Number Refer to?

The NPA part of the phone number refers to the Numbering Plan Area or in this case specifically, the area code. As mentioned before, area codes originated with the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), which divides each territory into a zone based on geographical location. The proper NPA has a range of [2-9] for the first digit while the second and third digit has a range of [0-9].

There are six toll-free codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844. The toll-free numbers are only reserved for businesses and non-residential lines and allow callers to reach the recipient without being charged for the call.

The NXX, also known as the prefix number, refers to the central office or the exchange number. The proper range for the central office number is [2-9] for the first digit, and [0-9] for the remaining two digits. The number 1 cannot be used in both of the last two digits of NXX due to confusion with N11 codes (Specific Number Calling). N11 codes allow access to specific phone services provided by the North American Numbering Plan. The codes include:

  • 211: Provides access to community services and information (Non-Emergency)
  • 311: Provides access to city government numbers (Non-Emergency)
  • 411: Directory assistance (Non-Emergency)
  • 511: Provides traffic or police information (Non-Emergency)
  • 611: Provides access to the telephone provider's customer service and repair (Non-Emergency)
  • 711: TDD and Relay Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Non-Emergency)
  • 811: Provides access to public utility location (Non-Emergency)
  • 911: Emergency services (police, fire, ambulance/rescue services)

The XXXX refers to the subscriber number, or line number. The proper range for the subscriber number is [0-9] for each digit. The aforementioned central number is considered to be part of the subscriber number as it allows customers to forward their complete number to their mobile phone line when necessary.

What is the difference between Yellow Pages and White Pages?

The difference between the Yellow Pages and White Pages is simple - The Yellow Pages lists local businesses by category; the White Pages lists residences alphabetically and by location.

How Was the Print Directory Used?

The print directory was organized by type of service in a geographical area and then alphabetically. Local and small businesses could have Yellow Pages free listings and/or buy advertising space in the directory; this allowed telephone carriers to make a profit from printing their directories. (This is in addition to the monthly charge of maintaining a phone line, and is one of the reasons telephone companies were so profitable!)

Telephone companies published the YP yearly and deliver them to their customers. Most companies released a telephone book that included both White Pages and Yellow Pages. As the population grew, the books were printed separately.

If you were looking for a mechanic in your area before the internet, you would typically look in the book under "Mechanic" and then call the mechanics listed in the phone book to get a quote. This is why you see so many mechanics with the name "AAA" or "A Plus" - they wanted to show up first in their section of the book because all listings were alphabetical.

In addition to business listings and business information, the phone book would also include helpful community information, such as N11 codes. 

Does YP still exist?

The YP still exists but in different forms from the original. The databases can be accessed online or by using an app. Books also exist but some areas have banned the use of the printed directory.

How is the YP Used Today?

Today, people still use YP to perform phone number searches of businesses in their area, however, it's now usually online. With YP you can enter the name of a business or service that you're in need of and find several options including the business' phone number and address.

Are there IYP apps? 

Yes. CallerSmart has a Yellow Pages app to help you find the names, numbers, and addresses of businesses in your local area.

Do They Still Print the YP?

The YP is still printed by business directory companies, though there is a growing movement to stop doing so. The YP, and phone books in general, are seen as extreme wastes and detrimental to the environment. Many people argue that phone books are now unnecessary because of internet access and smartphones, which allow consumers to look up phone numbers for businesses with great ease and without the need of flipping open a physical book.

Companies that publish YP counter this claim by citing that there are still some Americans that do not use the internet or cannot easily access it, and for this reason there is value still in printed business directories. As of 2015, 84% of Americans use the internet.

If you still receive the YP, but do not wish to any longer you can choose to opt-out of receiving them by visiting the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice & Opt-out Site.

Does CallerSmart Have IYP?

CallerSmart features a business phone numbers directory, but it's not like the old phone books! We have the phone numbers of millions of businesses in the United States and our directory continues to grow. The Yellow Pages listings - whether paid or as a Yellow Pages free listing - still exist.

Where Does CallerSmart's Information Come From?

CallerSmart's website and app is unlike any other online Yellow Pages directory! We took dozens of the best public and private data sources for phone directory listings and combined all that Yellow Pages data with a community of users who compete to make sure the listings are accurate, useful, and comprehensive. It can be a difficult task to make sure that all business listings are up-to-date. New businesses start. Established businesses close. Businesses merge, change names, move locations, etc.

To achieve our up-to-date IYP, we are constantly looking for new databases to add to our phone directory, but we also depend on our awesome community of users! CallerSmart was the first collaborative Yellow Pages iPhone app.

Our users are able to leave their feedback on numbers and update the phone directory listings in our database. This means that if a user gets a call from an unknown number, other users' feedback can help them identify who the call is from.

Our community of users does an especially good job of identifying fraudulent business numbers. There are so many phone scams that people need to be aware of and our diligent users warn others about phone numbers that are being used to defraud people. CallerSmart's phone book gets updated thousands of times each day by our community members.

Why Would I Run a Reverse Phone Lookup on a Business Number?

Maybe you've recently gone on a job interview and the next day you have a missed call. Could it be the company that you just interviewed with? In order to find out you can run a reverse phone lookup on the number before you give it a call back.

Using online yellow pages

In addition, many companies use telemarketers or automated messages, which can be annoying. You can use CallerSmart's reverse phone lookup app for iPhone or our website to search unknown numbers that you receive calls from. We'll help you identify whether or not a number is worth calling back or blocking!

Our app provides clear instructions on how you can block calls and texts on your iPhone, and we also have guides available on how to block unwanted calls and block spam texts available on our website. You can also run reverse phone lookup IYP on the site or Yellow Pages app.

How Can I Run a Reverse Phone Lookup in CallerSmart's IYP?

Running a reverse phone lookup Yellow Pages in CallerSmart's IYP is easy. Just copy and paste, or type, an unknown number into the search bar on our website or in our iPhone app. We'll display whatever free results we have!

How Do I Get CallerSmart's Directory?

You can get CallerSmart's IYP  reverse phone lookup for iPhone by downloading it for free from the App Store. If you don't have an iPhone or an iPad you can still access our directory and run a  iPhone caller ID trace on unknown calls on our website.

Both our app and website give you complete access to our extensive Yellow Pages telephone directory!

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