Really, I don't know whether in other countries (English speaking) there is a difference between telephone and mobile phones numbers. If there is no such difference, then this question makes no sense.

But if there is (as in Spain where telephones start by 9 and mobile by 6), is it correct to write "Tel: mobile number" or should I write "Cell: mobile number"?

I'm particularly interested in formal writing, i.e. CVs, resumes, signatures...

  • 4
    Never once in my life have I seen "Cel". Have you? – RegDwigнt Sep 24 '13 at 13:07
  • 3
    I have seen Mob: – mplungjan Sep 24 '13 at 13:12

In the US, it is common on business cards, letterheads and email signature blocks to list phone numbers as

(212) 321-7654 (tel)

(917) 654-3210 (cell)

(323) 999-8888 (fax)

Sometimes a period is added after tel, but rarely after fax and never after cell. Sometimes the first letter of the modifier is capitalized, but often not.

I have never seen mob in the US to define a cell phone and rarely see mobile in printed materials (although it is used often in speech).

In resumes (and other documents with headings) the number is sometimes preceded by the phone type, as in

Tel: (212) 987-6543

While there are some area codes (the first three numbers) that are reserved to cell phones, many area codes are used for land, cell, and fax, and people do not necessarily know which numbers are which, so marking is common.

If someone only uses a single line, land or mobile, the parenthetical is usually left off. There is a growing pattern in the US of giving up land lines and only using cells (especially among younger people). Such folks often simply list their number without referring to its type.

  • All answers are similar but I give you the accepted answer due to the explanation of the area codes (didn't know that the same code could be used for land, cell and fax). – yzT Sep 24 '13 at 15:14
  • 4
    FWIW, I've also seen (home) and (cell) used to differentiate between the two numbers. – J.R. Sep 24 '13 at 22:01

In some countries/with some providers, calling a mobile is vastly more expensive than calling a landline phone, so you may, as a courtesy, wish to make the distinction. I have seen both "Mob" and "Cell" (never "Cel") as abbreviations. I can't say for sure, but I think "Mob" is more common.


This may be off-topic but I think it perverse that in our globalised world there is not a single expression for this most global of devices. Americans call them 'cell-phones', we in Britain call them 'mobiles', Malaysians call them 'hand-phones', the French call them 'portables'. So if it concerns an international business card I have no idea how to advise you. Perhaps an ideogram is what you need.


In Ukraine, there is not much difference between stationary and mobile phones, plus recently the tendency has developed to omit all such words at all, assuming that people are capable of understanding what's what, for example:

Mykola Hudkovych

IT Analyst

+380 12 345 6789


  • It is the first time I have seen the term 'stationary' used in relation to a non-mobile phone. In the UK the normal term is a 'land-line phone'. I've no idea what Americans call them. – user52780 Sep 26 '13 at 12:13
  • Me too :) I'm Ukrainian, so I may have used the term incorrectly (though I've done my best not to confuse it with 'stationery'). – Mykola Sep 26 '13 at 12:56
  • Yes, full marks for that! E as in envelope, A as in automobile is a good way to remember it! – user52780 Sep 26 '13 at 15:32

In business communications, the courtesy of specifying the type of phone (for reasons of calling cost) is less important than in private communications, as calling both is a business expense. However if you are giving a landline and a mobile number it makes sense to specify which is which (Tel: and Mob: would be the normal way to abbreviate them in British English) The meaning of Mob: may not be immediately obvious in the US, similarly Cell: wouldn't be used in the UK.

If you are only giving one number, Tel: is probably the most conventional way to introduce it, regardless of the connection method.


I think what a mobile phone is referred to in your location is relevant to the abbreviation you should use.

The USA version (above) of writing out the word in parentheses is the most unambiguous, but in cases where you want to abbreviate (or only use a capital letter, for example), consider your own country's - or your intended reader's - terminology.

As I am based in Europe (Switzerland), I tend to use "T" or "F" for my fixed line ("telephone" or "fixed line"), and "N" or "M" for my mobile ("Natel", which is the national carrier trademark, and has since become the generic word for any mobile, and "M" simply for "mobile").

If I saw "C" for what I call a "mobile", I would still understand - it just wouldn't be as immediate, for me.

Remember also that, if you're writing to someone in the same country as you, the chances are that people can distinguish between fixed-line area codes and mobile carrier codes anyway.

  • Interesting. Here in the US, we tend to say "cell", but on business cards and email signatures, accept c or m equally well. In large international corporations, it's even becoming common for the employees based in the US to use m on their business cards, because they often deal with the international community. However, here f unambiguously would mean "fax", not "fixed" (though having that on your business card would cause a few smirks, these days). – Dan Bron Jul 23 '15 at 14:28

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