I just moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. My phone number's area code is from Massachusetts.

When I need to tell someone my phone number, I start to spell out the digits:


At this point, the other person often points out that I need to tell them the area code. Because they're unfamiliar with my area code, they mistakenly think that I skipped it.

How can I go about spelling out my phone number in one go? Is there a common way to mark the area code when speaking out loud, or just "area code: 123, the rest is: .." would be the most succinct way?

  • 6
    Start with the words "area code"; for example: "Got a pencil? ... OK here goes: Area code number number number ... number number number ... number number number number." Jun 16, 2015 at 18:57
  • 1
    As Stoney says, you don't have to separate the area code from the remainder of the number. Everyone knows that it's just three digits.
    – Catija
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:17
  • I am truly surprised to hear that people in the Bay Area would not automatically assume the full 10-digit number is being given, considering the number of transplants there. It's rare among my friends and family that someone's mobile phone area code isn't either 1) where they lived when they purchased their first mobile phone, or 2) where they lived in 2004 (when landline-to-mobile portability went into effect). And 415 doesn't have the same cachet as, say, 212, for those who care about such things.
    – choster
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:40
  • @StoneyB It worked! Would you like to add that as an answer?
    – ento
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


Start with the words "area code".


The best way to indicate you are reciting your number from the very beginning is to start with 1 and then pause, and then the area code.

For example:

My number is 1 pause (617) pause 532 short pause 4701

I think that is very clear without having to say "my area code is..."

  • 3
    Except that anyone with a mobile phone will NOT have to "dial" the one , so you should not mention it. That's so twentieth century! Jun 17, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    When the 443 area code was introduced in Maryland (just a couple of years after 410), all numbers within the state required dialing the 10-digit number without the 1, whereas landline long distance calling required the 10-digit number with the 1. While I don't think this ever happened in California, it's a reason not to include the 1 indiscriminately. Every style guide I've encountered in my professional life omits it except for toll-free numbers (which, after all, some still refer to as 1-800 numbers) or if signifying the country code (+1).
    – choster
    Jun 17, 2015 at 17:02

Just spell the area code out in one quick burst, then pause; pause again after the next three digits. For example:

  • Onetwothree; four eight four; nine six six five

You are imitating this punctuation: (123) 484-9665 See how the area code is grouped, yet set apart from the rest? That's how you say it.

  • 1
    I suppose that might work, but I almost always do what @StoneyB suggests and say area code 123 when I want to be clear. It's good to put folks in the right frame of mind before you give them information.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 17, 2015 at 16:21

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