periods or dashes in phone numbers?

from an IM conversation with the master of on 10/6/2006

mm: Another thing i can’t stand. When people use dots in their phone
number instead of dashes. DRIVES ME NUTS! IT AIN’T NO IP ADDRESS!

em: It’s a visual thing. people like to use dots because it’s the simpliest
and cleanest way to show a phone number.

mm: no

em: yes

mm: It’s not the simplest and cleanest. Look: 312.555.1212 vs.
312-555-1212. Look at how nice the numbers are sepearated with dashes.
Besides, dots are periods. It’s confusing.

em: periods, dots, whatever. I’m talking based on the formal qualities of
the period versus dashes. Dots are smaller than dashes. The dashes play a
larger role in the number. Dots don’t get in the way

mm: there is a reason why they chose dashes when phone numbers were first
invented. Notice, they did not pick periods when they invented phone
numbers. I wonder why… it’s cuz dashes make more sense, that’s why

em: i agree with what you’re saying. i actually prefer to use parens and
then dashes (312) 555-1212. that is the universal system and everyone should
use that.

mm: oh, that is nice

em: visually, it’s not as minimalist, but it serves a function. It’s really
about form vs. function. people who use all periods are form nuts. people
who use dashes are in-between. they like the simple form of the dashes, but
the dashes serve the function better than periods. People who use parens and
a dash are function nuts.

mm: wait, i have to alter this. People who use periods are stupid.

em: whoa, chocolate shakes!

mm: period!

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Saaristo
17 years ago

What is so crazy is that we all have the same phone number!

My phone number is [312] 555 – 1212

12 years ago

I gotta agree with MM; dashes look much better in a phone number than do periods. Besides, phone numbers should NOT look like IP addresses.

12 years ago

I believe I started the DOT (.) in the phone number. If I can remeber back in the 90’s I was a network engineer and working with UUNET with IP address. I happen to email the SE back then and decided to be fancy with my call back number using dot instead of dash and parenthesis. Ever since then this SE for UUNET started to use that format and propegated from there on. I have never ever seen that format ever used anywhere during that time. Even when I was at college during research for my CS classes never even… Read more »

Matt Maldre
12 years ago

Dan about when in the 90s did you use it? I recall in the mid-90s people using periods in phone numbers. Graphic designers would do that to look cool. I admittedly followed that trend for a little bit in school. But then when I learned what IP addresses were in the late 90s, I stopped putting periods in my phone number and I hold the stance I have now where only dashes belong in phone numbers. But if you are the first person to use periods in phone numbers (and I like to believe that is true), then how cool… Read more »

12 years ago

@SPUDART: Probably around ’92-’93 because I graduated ’95 and I was already using that (dot) format on phone # consistently on my emails and letters when I correspond to ISP. I started to see it more used around ’95 too specially by UUNET personel when I get their letters or business card. I never saw that format from UUNET prior to when I started using it.