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Department of Linguistics


Phonetic Fonts: Main Page

Robert Mannell, 2012

In this page, and the associated phonetic font pages, we will often make reference to "IPA" fonts and characters. IPA is an abbreviation for the International Phonetic Association and this association is responsible for standardising the characters used in phonetic transcription.

Charis SIL Phonetic Font

We strongly recommend that you download and install the "Charis SIL" font from SIL International. You can obtain that font, for MS Windows and Mac OS X via the following link. It's also possible to obtain a Linux (Debian) version of the font via that link. On that page, and associated pages you can also find some information on installation. This is a free font and it's also one of the best phonetic fonts available.

Click here for Charis SIL font

Installing the Phonetic Font

You will find information on the installation of Charis SIL font on the font's download page, OR click on the following link for setup instructions for Windows and Macintosh.

Instructions for installing the Phonetic Font (Windows and Mac)

Macintosh users should also read the following:- Installing SIL fonts on Macintosh OS X

Other Fonts

If you are a student in one of our courses then we insist that you install Charis SIL. This is NOT a matter of personal preference or mere stylistic taste. Don't ignore this advice because you think you'd prefer another font. In the recent past, a multitude of different student font choices greatly increased our workload. If you use a font that we don't use then we may not be able to read or print any work that you submit. If you submit an assignment using any other phonetic font it is very likely that the assignment will be returned to you for resubmission with this font. The style sheets on this site expect Charis SIL as the default phonetic font.

Please DO NOT use the standard Windows font Lucida Sans Unicode. It's likely that this font will be displayed on the web on Windows if you don't have the recommended font. This font displays some phonetic characters incorrectly. For example, it chops off the bottom of the "ring-under" devoicing character (a little circle that goes under a phonetic character and that indicates that the character is voiceless). Many other fonts also have problems placing diacritics (small characters that change the interpretation of a main character) and it's likely that using the wrong font may result in your losing marks for errors that you didn't intend.

ASCII and Unicode Fonts

In order for you to understand some of the reasons why we are so inflexible about fonts you should click on the following link background information on ASCII and Unicode fonts. Charis SIL is Unicode font.

ASCII and Unicode Fonts: An explanation

Phonetic Fonts and Internet Browsers

You should NOT use Internet Explorer for viewing the pages on this site that contain phonetic characters. For information on which browsers to use, which not to use, and why, click on the following link:-

IPA and Internet Browsers

Testing the Phonetic Font

It is essential that you test your installation of the font. Unless you test the font, by going to the page reached via the link below, you can't be completely sure that you are seeing the correct phonetic characters. If you are one of our students it's your responsibility to install and to carefully test the font before using these resources.

Test the Phonetic Font

Creating Your Own documents Using "Charis SIL" Font

Click on the following link for instructions on how to produce a document that includes phonetic characters using Charis SIL. Such a document would be ideal for the on-line submission of assignments that (a) contain phonetic characters and (b) that we will be able to read.

Creating and Editing Documents Using "Charis SIL " Font