How to Do Phonetic Spelling in Microsoft Word

Written by collier jackson
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How to Do Phonetic Spelling in Microsoft Word
Transcribe old texts into IPA to describe their original pronunciation. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Typing IPA, or International Phonetic Alphabet, characters in Microsoft Word is possible by using Unicode characters. Unicode is a method of encoding that computers use to turn simple short strings of bits into complex characters -- all behind the scenes. You can access these characters directly through Word's included symbols menu. Using Word to type long phonetic transcriptions can be quite time-consuming, but if you're just using a few words or sounds, this process is very convenient.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Open Word and locate the place in your document where you want to insert a phonetic spelling.

  2. 2

    Click on the "Insert" menu. Select "Symbols" and then "More Symbols" under the "Symbols" menu.

  3. 3

    Locate the phonetic character that you want to add, select it and click "Insert." Some of the phonetic Unicode characters need to be placed "on top" of another character such as accent marks. These characters have a dotted circular outline indicating where a base character would appear. To properly insert one of these characters, you will need to first select the base character in your document before inserting the additional character.

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