Washingtonians, like their suburban neighbors, are now receiving telephone books in a new format_one that, among other changes, is divided into separate white-page sections for residential listings and for business, professional and organizational listings. There's yet another section on blue paper supposedly for government listings.

Under the U.S. Government, you'll find my pettest peeve: a listing for the American Red Cross, which is no more a government agency than the Salvation Army. However, the government corporation known as Amtrak, officially the National Railroad Passenger Corp., is listed in the business section, with nary a line under the government heading.

And Metro, the transit agency that to Washington area taxpayers is costly government incarnate, also lacks a government listing; it's in the business section, too. Not only that, but it's the 53d listing of an organization starting with the word "Metro," mainly because some dimbulb decided on a double-barreled listing, "Metro-Metrobus," that put the key word of its title far out of order.

Some Maryland state agencies with offices in Washington are listed under "government," but the liaison offices of such state governments as California, New York, Ohio (and comparable city liaison offices) are under "business." So, inexplicably, are the embassies of the sovereign governments with missions here.

A modest suggestion to the C&P Telephone Co.: Set up a special task force, which might hold meetings seeking public comments, to recommend a consistent future formatting. It also should consider some uniformity in the listings of federal and D.C. government agencies to include, at least, one number to dial for information.