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MS Office

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Generating IPA in Microsoft Office


          (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Publisher)


Microsoft Office is available for just about all versions of Windows and MacOS, and some people run it on Linux as well. All versions will have Word, Excel and Powerpoint, but if you get some of the more expensive versions you can get Access and/or Publisher as well. At least if you're a student or a professor Bill Gates will give you a break.


First things first

You won't be able to use IPA with Microsoft Office until you have an IPA font installed, and most operating systems don't install one by default. So if you don't have an IPA font installed yet, go to Cool free IPA fonts to download and download one. If you need help installing it, go to How to install fonts on your computer.


One more little thing that is sure to annoy Mac users. All the screenshots on this page are from Windows. Apologies.  (Mac-specific instructions and screenshots coming soon.)


General how-to and tips

You can insert IPA characters into any Microsoft Office application using the system method under General stuff to know about IPA on the main page for your operating system. (However, if using it under Linux you'll have to use the Windows way, so review the General stuff to know about IPA on the Windows page. Yeah, you'll be tainted for having looked at Windows, but hey, you're using Microsoft Office anyway.) To go to the main page for your operating system click on one of the icons in the sidebar to the right. Many users do this as their normal method. But if you just need to insert an occasional character it may be easier to use the Insert Symbol feature of Microsoft Office than to insert it with the system method above.


Inserting characters with Insert Symbol 

To do this in any Microsoft Office application (except Access - see below under Accessing IPA in Access) click on Insert on the main toolbar, then on Symbol. A window will pop up (see below) showing characters and it will be set by default to whatever font is set at the point where your cursor is.


This is the Insert Symbol window.



(Don't see the Subset drop-down, and can't access any of your cool IPA fonts?  You probably have an older version of Office and will need to upgrade before these steps will work for you.)


When the Insert Symbol window pops up it will be set to the Symbols tab which will look like the screenshot above. Note that you can scroll down to find all the characters in the font you have selected. In the above screenshot we have scrolled down and selected the script a. If you double click on a character it will be automatically inserted into the document you are working on (or click on the Insert button). You can scroll around and enter as many characters as you want, inserting it by double clicking on it or hitting the Insert button. You could write a whole term paper this way! OK, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.


An important feature of the Insert Symbol window is that right above the Insert button is a box that says "from:." In the screenshot above it says "Unicode (hex)," and just to the left of it is the hex code for the character. If you are going to use a character a lot it would be helpful to note the number of the character. The reason for this is because you can enter any character into any Microsoft Office program (except Access, see note at the end of this page) by typing the hex code and then Alt+x. Most people find this a lot faster than  bothering to open the Insert Symbol window. It's especially faster once you memorize the codes for the characters you use a lot. You can even make yourself a cheat sheet of codes and tape it to the side of your monitor. In other words, the main thing you will end up using the Insert Symbol window for is to find the code for a character you haven't learned yet. And you don't even need it to use for that if you download our table of IPA codes from Download IPA chart. Ain't that just cool? Now, before we leave the Insert Symbol window we want to point out the Autocorrect button in the lower left, because that is our next topic.


Inserting characters with Autocorrect

Microsoft Office has a cool feature called Autocorrect. To get to it click on Tools in the top menu, then on Autocorrect, which will get you a window that looks like this:



By default the Autocorrect window will pop up with the Autocorrect tab open, but if it doesn't (because Word thoughtfully tries to remember what you did last time), just click on the Autocorrect tab. Once you have a window open that looks like the above screenshot, notice the Replace and With boxes sort of in the middle of the window. and the list of autocorrections for those of us who are typing challenged. OK, that's most of us. Never mind.


Now, let's suppose you use the script a often, and let's also suppose that you learned its name as "fat-a." That's what our professor always called it, although he never explained why he wanted to use a term that no one else does. He had his odd moments. OK, he was a professor. 'Nuff said. So here's what you can do: Type "fat-a" in the Replace box, then in the With box type "251" and hit Alt+x. The script a will appear in the With box, and now all you have to do is click on the Add button. That's it, you just entered a new Autocorrect entry for the script-a. Now, wherever you are in Microsoft Office (including Access) you can just type "fat-a" and hit the spacebar. Office will automatically pop in the script-a for you. That is coolness because it essentially allows you to create your own custom codes for the characters you use often. No more having to memorize lists of hex numbers. Like, remembering "fat-a" is a lot easier than "251."


Before we leave the exciting Autocorrect function we need to add one more thought. Remember the Insert Symbol window above? Remember the Autocorrect button in the lower left corner? OK, just go back to the Insert Symbol window, select a character, and click on the Autocorrect button. See what happens? Office will pop up the Autocorrect window with the character already inserted in the With window. Now all you have to do is enter your mnemonic for it in the Replace window, hit Add, and you're done. You really must send a thank you note to Bill Gates.


Stylin' 'n stuph

Microsoft Office allows the user to set up paragraph styles and character styles. If you haven't learned how to use styles yet, you really must. Almost all the formatting you do when you write a term paper can be added automatically with styles, saving you more time for drinking beer. Plus, there are even template documents available on the web that contain styles for things like APA. The only thing styles won't do for you is decide what to say. For now you're going to have to write your own papers, although we're working on the problem.


You already know how to change the font, right? Like, select some text (or a whole document if you like), then go to Format in the top menu and click on Font. That will get you a popup like this:



Note that the font that was applied to the text where the cursor was when the Format Font window popped up was Times New Roman. Just use the dropdown to change it to what you want. (Hint, when the drop-down is displayed just type the first letter of the font that you want. The drop-down will jump to the fonts starting with that letter.)


But we're not finished. Note the button in the lower left corner of the Format Font popup that says "Default." If you click on this you will save this font choice to Micorosft Office's Normal style. Office always has a Normal style. If you delete the Normal style Office will just recreate it next time you launch an Office application. There are cool things and uncool things about this design feature, but a cool feature is that if you always want to use, say, Junicode, you can set it to the default for the Normal style, and then every time you open a new document it will start automatically with Junicode as the font selection. Add this to your thank letter to Bill Gates.


There is another way to change a style which is sometimes more efficient. You can go to Format on the top menu, then on Styles and Formatting. That will get you a window that looks like this.



 Note the Normal style selected in the pane to the right. If you right click on it, then on Modify, you get a little popup like this:



Here you can change all aspects of the Normal style all at once. Or suppose you don't want to mess with your Normal style. No problem, you can click on New Style in the Styles and Formatting pane and create a special style just for creating Ling documents.


If you need to use different fonts for different kinds of documents you need to learn about templates. Microsoft Office comes with several templates, including a default template for new documents. Templates can hold text that you are always going to want to use, e.g., a design for a letterhead, and they can also contain custom styles for all kinds of things. You might find it useful to create a special template just for creating Ling term papers, or another for Powerpoint when you want to create a slide show for a Ling presentation.



Microsoft Office has a cool feature borrowed from the MacOS. If you insert a character into a document but the font you are using does not contain that character, the Office application (except Access, see below) will search all your installed fonts for one that has that character. It even knows something about what fonts look like so, for example, if you are using a sans-serif face like Arial it will choose another sans-serif face if it can.


Unfortunately, while this is cool, it can also create occasional problems. The difficulty is that some IPA fonts may not be perfectly mapped. IPA fonts tend to be homemade non-commercial ventures, so it's possible that the developer made a mistake and put a character in the wrong slot. The character will still show up in Insert Symbol, and you won't  be aware that it is in the wrong slot. The document will look and print correctly, but what happens if you later change the selection to a different font? Office will realize that a character in the selection is now missing and suddenly substitute a different font.


If this becomes a problem for you there is a fix. You can go into Tools on the top menu bar, then on Options, which should give you a window that looks like this:



Select the Edit tab and then turn off the "Auto-Keyboard switching" by unchecking the box.


Accessing IPA in Access 

As we mentioned at the beginning, for IPA Microsoft Access is a different kind of critter. As a rule, database programs cannot handle characters above ASCII 255, which leaves out most of the characters we need for IPA. There are exceptions - Filemaker Pro can, and so can the free open source databases MySQL, PostgreSQL and OpenBaseSQL. Microsoft Access almost can; that is, you can insert an IPA character into a field with the Autocorrect feature, and Access will retain the character in the database and correctly merge it into whatever document you later merge your data into. But you can't enter the character with the Alt+x method, nor is there an Insert Symbol way of doing it. But at least once you get the character into Access it will be retained in all its true goodness as an IPA character.


What we really think 

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