The most common part numbers start with the numbers 78 or 79 and finish with two digits indicating the output voltage. The number 78 represents positive voltage and 79 negative one. The 78XX series of voltage regulators are designed for positive input. And the 79XX series is designed for negative input.
· 5V DC Regulator Name: LM7805 or MC7805
· -5V DC Regulator Name: LM7905 or MC7905
· 6V DC Regulator Name: LM7806 or MC7806
· -9V DC Regulator Name: LM7909 or MC7909
The LM78XX series typically has the ability to drive current up to 1A. For application requirements up to 150mA, 78LXX can be used. As mentioned above, the component has three legs: Input leg which can hold up to 36VDC Common leg (GND) and an output leg with the regulator's voltage. For maximum voltage regulation, adding a capacitor in parallel between the common leg and the output is usually recommended. Typically a 0.1MF capacitor is used. This eliminates any high frequency AC voltage that could otherwise combine with the output voltage. See below circuit diagram which represents a typical use of a voltage regulator.
As a general rule the input voltage should be limited to 2 to 3 volts above the output voltage. The LM78XX series can handle up to 36 volts input, be advised that the power difference between the input and output appears as heat. If the input voltage is unnecessarily high, the regulator will overheat. Unless sufficient heat dissipation is provided through heat sinking, the regulator will shut down.
source : http://www.eidusa.com/Electronics_Voltage_Regulator.htm