How to Type Phonetic Symbols

By Richard Kalinowski

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The International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, is used to annotate dictionary entries. Using special phonetic symbols, you can determine a word's correct pronunciation even if you've never heard it spoken before. IPA symbols are especially useful for vowels, where multiple sounds are commonly made using the same letter. If you need to type a word phonetically, you can do this with special "Alt Codes" on your computer.

Open your word processing software or email.

Click on the place where you want to insert the phonetic symbol. In most programs, a flashing vertical line indicates the selected area.

Press the "NumLock" button to activate your computer's 10-key.

Hold down the "Alt" key on your keyboard.

Type the appropriate "Alt Code" into your keyboard's 10-key. A listing of common IPA symbols is found on Auburn University's website (see Resources).

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