In the United States and Canada, phone books are used to locate addresses and phone numbers of both businesses and individuals. The two major sections of a phone book are the white pages and the yellow pages.

White Pages

The white pages in a phone book are for personal land line phone numbers and street addresses in a specific region. The white pages are organized alphabetically by name, with the surname (or last name) first, then first name followed by middle name or initial, if applicable. Everyone with a land line telephone service is registered with the phone book printer under the name of the phone service account unless they opt out of the phone book by calling the phone book company and asking to be on the red list. This red list will stop a person's name from appearing in the phone book and online on the phone book website.

Yellow Pages

The yellow pages generally follow the white pages in the phone book, in the back half. The yellow pages are all business listings, with the name, number and address of local businesses. They differ from the white pages in that yellow pages are paid listings, meaning that businesses must pay for the listing in the book and can also pay extra money for larger more attention-grabbing ads. The second major difference is that the businesses are first listed by category and then in alphabetical order by name. For example, Tony's Pizza would be listed under the "Pizza" category and then between the two other pizza restaurants that come immediately before and after it alphabetically.

Blue/Green Pages

There is one other type of page that appears in phone books -- the blue (green in Canada) pages. These blue pages are the smallest section in the phone book and are purely the numbers for governments and human services. These listings include local state representative numbers, police, hospitals, ambulance services and other listings that do not fit the business or personal criteria, for instance, drug or family counseling services. These are not paid pages and are a free service from the telephone book company. Most, if not all, of the numbers are "800" numbers, meaning they can be called at no charge, even if they would normally be considered long distance.