Telephone directories are used to find addresses and phone numbers of subscribers in a city, town or county. Subscribers may request to be left out of the directory, usually for a fee. Phone books are divided into two sections: the white pages for residential and the yellow pages for business.
To use the white pages, the party's last name is looked up using the alphabetical listing. Knowing the address helps in the search, especially if the party's last name is more common, such as Smith or Jones. Listings are last name first, and then either an initial or a first name, the address and phone number. Fax numbers and cell phones are sometimes listed.
The second half of the book is the yellow pages. The businesses are alphabetically listed, but the larger ads are in the front of each section. Government offices, emergency phone numbers and regional information are in the front of the book, while the back may have information on the prefixes and area codes found in the coverage area.
At one time, phone directories, also called telephone books, were printed and delivered once a year to every home in a city. With the invention of the Internet, and later, smartphones, paper phone directories are not getting as much use. Some old phone directories are collector's items.