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Us West Introduces Dex Phone Directory Features New Name, Personality

The phone directory is going hip.

U.S. West’s white and yellow pages have adopted a new name, a new look, and an Internet address to keep up with the fast-changing ‘90s.

Formerly called U.S. West Direct, the company’s directories now will be known as U.S. West Dex, “Your Directory Expert.” It’s still white and yellow, but the new directory is decorated with a symbol of a person looking through a magnifying glass, signifying the search for information.

“We wanted to add more of a personality to it, to make it more memorable,” said Wendy Carver-Herbert, a spokeswoman.

On Tuesday, U.S. West began distributing 363,000 new phone books in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene markets, up from 328,700 last year. Residences and businesses should receive their phone books within three weeks.

People also can use the phone book online. Though U.S. West has offered online service since June 1996, the Internet address (http:/ / is displayed for the first time on the new book’s cover.

“We’re trying to appeal to a more advanced society,” Carver-Herbert said.

The organization of the book also has changed slightly in response to customer demand, she said.

Individual communities in Eastern Washington, such as Cheney, Deer Park and Elk, won’t have separate sections anymore. Instead, they’ll be included in the Spokane sections for business and residences. That way consumers don’t need to know the community where a listing is located.

“People were saying, ‘I don’t want to be looking up Kinko’s in three different communities,”’ Carver-Herbert said. “This makes it easier.”

It may be easier to use, but the name “Dex” is causing some confusion.

“I don’t quite understand what the Dex is for,” said Scott Bontrager, a salesman for Al’s Auto Supply on North Division, after seeing the new phone book.

“I’m not real sure what that is,” said Carl Graham, owner of Ryder Truck Rental on North Division after seeing the new name.

The name “Dex” was chosen because of the Latin root “dexter,” used in such words as dexterity and index, Carver-Herbert said.

Ken Krall, a professor of Latin at Gonzaga University, said dexter literally means “right,” as in right-handed. Using your right hand traditionally was thought of as the correct way to do things, Krall said. It follows that the word “dexterity” means skillful. Conversely, Krall added, the Latin word for “left” is “sinister.”

“I could just see people from the left-hand association saying, ‘I’m not going to buy that,”’ Krall joked, referring to the new phone book.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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