Information in a directory was gathered the year before the publication date (i.e., the 1910 directory shows information gathered in 1909).
Street names and family surnames are listed in separate sections of each directory, in alphabetical order. Some early directories have either street names or family surnames, but not both.
Many directories include a list of businesses by type.
Abbreviations used in the directories are explained in an index near the front.
The earliest directories contain information on only the original City of Toronto. Starting in 1873, outlying “suburban” (now urban) areas, such as Parkdale, are listed in appendices. Beginning in 1930, suburban areas are part of the main listings.
After 1983, the directories were published in separate “central,” “east,” and “west” volumes, though not every volume was published in every year.