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Windows IPA: Main page

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Saved by PBworks
on March 30, 2008 at 6:12:46 pm

Generate IPA Characters On Your Windows PC


Jump to how-to sections for ...

Office Applications          Browsers          Email Applications


First things first

You won't be able to use IPA on your Windows computer until you have an IPA font installed, and Windows doesn't install one by default. It is true that Arial Unicode and Lucida Sans Unicode have some IPA characters, but they lack a complete set. Besides, they are sans-serif fonts (that means they don't have those little curlicues ["serifs"] that text fonts have.) And if that is not enough to disrecommend them, they are as ugly as a dorm room the morning after a pizza and beer party. Just go to Cool free IPA fonts to download and get a real IPA font. If you need help installing it, go to How to install fonts on your computer


General stuff to know about using IPA on Windows

You can enter any character in any font into any document on Windows by using Character Map. To access Character Map go to Start, then Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, then Character Map. Whew! If you need to use this a lot better put it on your taskbar or something! This is what the Character Map utility looks like:


Windows Character Map


The first thing to note about the Character Map window is that it will be set to something like Times New Roman. You want to use your cool free IPA font, of course, so before looking for a character, go to the font drop-down box at the top and change it to your IPA font. (Hint, with the box open you can just type the first letter of the font and the drop-down box will jump to the fonts starting with that letter.)


OK, now you have your font displayed in the box. In the above screenshot we opened the Junicode font and selected the script-a. Notice what happened in the bottom left of the window when we selected the script-a - it displayed the Unicode hex number for this character. Pay attention to that number, because we're going to come back to that later. There will be a quiz.


Now that the script-a is selected we can just double click on it and it will appear in the Characters to copy box. And then we can click on the Select button and then th Copy button and the character will be placed in the Clipboard. Then we can just go to whatever application we were working with and paste the character into it. A cool feature is that you can put multiple characters into the Characters to copy box and select them all at once. You could write a whole term paper just by putting characters into the box. OK, maybe not.


There are a couple other things to note about Character Map. See the box for Advanced view that we have checked above? That makes it display the bottom of the window as above. And then you can change the Character set box. By default it will be set to Unicode, and that is what you will probably always want, so just leave that box alone. However, the Group by box might offer you a faster way to find the character you are looking for. Go ahead and click on the Group by drop-down and you will see some options. Probably the best option is "Unicode block." That will pop up a little window next to the Character Map window where you can select which block you want to display. Unfortunately, Bill Gates decided that he knew better than the Unicode consortium, so he revised the way the blocks are displayed. Perhaps he thought this would make it easier for users to find a character, and it might if he hadn't removed the "IPA Extensions" option. He did include the Combining Diacriticals block, so maybe that is some help. We only mention this because some people like the feature. We never use the Group by option, but if you like it, then you are cooler than we are.


Alternatives to Character Map

Remember we told you to take note of the Unicode number in the lower left corner of the Character Map window? OK, here is the quiz: What is that Unicode number and what can you use it for? Wait ... this is too exciting to wait for you to figure it out, so we're just gonna tell you. The answer is that it is a hexadecimal number for the "slot" in the Unicode system where a character resides. In the screenshot above you see that the script-a was number U-0251. In Windows programs created by Microsoft (Office, Wordpad, etc.) you can enter the character without bothering with Character Map. All you do is type the code (leading zero not required in most programs) and then do Alt-x. So if you want a script-a in Microsoft Word, just type 251 and hold down Alt while you type x. Cool, eh? Now that you know that why should you ever bother with Character Map? Well, the only thing we've found it useful for is to find the code number for a character. But there is an even easier way to do that - just go to Download IPA chart and download our fantastical table of common IPA characters complete with all the hex codes. Now you can just forget about Character Map altogether.


But there is a rub. This is Windows. There is always a rub. The Alt-x method does not work in a lot of programs, the most notable of which is OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org does have its own Insert Special Character utility, but it's not a lot more useful than Character Map, and for the same reason - it's cumbersome to have to search through the characters to find the one you want. Ah, but we have a solution, grasshopper. You go here http://www.cardbox.com/quick.htm and download a clever little utility called Quick Unicode Input Tool. (When you install it be sure to check the box to make it start automatically when you boot Windows.) Now you can enter characters with the Unicode hex number in any application, even Microsoft Office, using exactly the same method. That is, you hold down Alt and type a period, then the number. When you release the Alt key the character pops into whatever document you are writing. Bill Gates needs to send these people a lot of money.


Some people might prefer the IPA Chart program that Kobi Reiter of the University of Washington created. It displays a "keyboard" on your screen and you just click on the characters to select them:



You can get the IPA Chart program from http://staff.washington.edu/dmontero/IPACharmap/.


There is another Windows utility for entering special characters called AllChars. It is a free, open source program that you can download from http://allchars.zwolnet.com/. It works by allowing you to set up custom two-keystroke sets that can be used to insert any character. You hit the Ctrl key (but don't hold it down, then your two-keystroke sequence, and it pops in the character that you assigned to the sequence. It works system-wide.


There is yet one other way to enter IPA characters on Windows, and it may be the best way of all if you need to do it a lot. We're talking about remapping your keyboard, of course. To find out how go to Mapping your keyboard where you will find instructions for all the operating systems.



How-to pages for office applications


Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Publisher)


OpenOffice (Writer, Calc, Impress, Base)



Abiword word processor





 Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer       


Firefox web browser


Opera web browser


Safari web browser


How-to pages for e-mail applications

Using IPA in e-mail is problematic for many reasons. First, there are more e-mail programs than there are IPA characters. A lot of people use Microsoft Outlook (we express our condolences), others use Thunderbird, Eudora, Pegasus, or other standalone e-mail clients. Some use programs that have e-mail utilities built in, such as the Opera web browser. Yet others view their e-mail in browser windows ("webmail"). If you use webmail you are probably better off because in most cases it is possible to get your browser working with IPA. Some of the others may work using the system methods listed above under General stuff to know about IPA.


If that isn't tough enough, there is the problem of what your recipient is using. You may compose an e-mail with stunning IPA characters only to discover that your recipient uses an e-mail client that cannot display it properly. Or if your recipient does read your e-mail with a program that can display it, they may not have the program properly configured for IPA. Because of all this supporting IPA in e-mail is a challenge that we have so far only been able to scratch the surface of.



<information coming soon!>



<information coming soon>



We know that Eudora does not support IPA. We understand that it has been purchased by the Mozilla organization, so perhaps eventually there will be a version capable of sending and viewing IPA. Until then, get something else.





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