Zyra.info //// Zyra's website UK //// Phones //// info Pages //// Mobile Phones //// Phone Companies //// Site Index

Letters and Numbers on a Phone
The corresponding letters and numbers for both old style rotary and modern pushbutton phones


The numbers on a phone dial or on a phone keypad have letters associated with them. On old style rotary dial telephones, the letters next to the numbers were included so you could dial to another exchange (STD - Subscriber Trunk Dialling) rather than asking the operator to connect you. On modern pushbutton phones, and mobile phones, there are letters associated with the numbers, so you can send text messages. It's a bit like telex but the equipment weighs less and doesn't cost so much.

In case you're interested, I'll include a look-up of letters and numbers. You may notice there are some differences between the old and the new.

Number

Letters
(old)

Letters
(new)

1

 - 

 - 

2

ABC

ABC

3

DEF

DEF

4

GHI

GHI

5

JKL

JKL

6

MN

MNO

7

PRS

PQRS

8

TUV

TUV

9

WXY

WXYZ

0

O

 - 

On the old-style rotary telephone dial, the letter O was on the number 0, but that made sense in the age when typewriters often didn't have a distinction between 0 (zero) and O (letter O), (and some had no figure 1, instead using the lower case l). Also, 0/O was also used for "operator" on some telephone dials, at least in the USA. In the UK, the phone number of the operator was 100.

The old-style phone dial lettering apparently had no Q or Z visible, but as the letters were mainly used for dialling exchanges, using the first three letters of the exchange name, the need for Q and Z was not considered so important, at least not in the first drafting of the idea of phones with letters on the numbers!

Here's the new-style phone pushbutton number layout with letters included:

1
 

2
ABC

3
DEF

4
GHI

5
JKL

6
MNO

7
PQRS

8
TUV

9
WXYZ

*

0

# 

(Notice how the phone pushbuttons are arranged differently in comparison to those on a calculator/computer keypad). Phones have 123 at the top, whereas calculators have 123 at the bottom.

I decided to write this page after finding a label in a wooden filing cabinet, which gave the phone number of the office equipment company OFCO (Vauxhall Bridge Road) as VICtoria 3912. The first three letters of the exchange name were emphasised rather than being expressed as a number.

Also see other useful things to do with the Phone