Typing IPA

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It is highly likely that, while writing survey reports, you will need to enter IPA data. If so, you must make sure that the font you use to type IPA is Unicode. If it is not, your data may be unreadable to people viewing it on different computers, using different programs to view it or when it is printed.

There are three main ways to enter Unicode IPA data. They range from the "quick and dirty" through to comprehensive character input software. They're listed below. Most people working in language assessment currently use Method B below.

A prerequisite to all three methods though is having a Unicode font that contains IPA characters on your computer. Thankfully, these are both easy to find and install and free.

Step 1: Get a Unicode font

SurveyWiki recommends you use DoulosSIL as your Unicode font as it is the standard font used for surveys available to the public on SILESR.

  1. Check to see if you have DoulosSIL in your font collection already by opening a word processing program and looking in the fonts dropdown menu for Doulos SIL. If you have it, go on to Step 2 below. If not, you need to...
  2. ...download the font from SIL's Doulos SIL Font Download page. Choose the font package for your operating system and follow the instructions there to install the font on your computer.

Step 2: Use an Input System

Method A: Using Word's Insert > Symbol

Advantage: quick, simple and free if you have a word processing program

Disadvantage: very laborious if you have to do lots of transcription

  1. Make sure you've carried out Step 1 above.
  2. Open up Word or another word processing program.
  3. From the Insert menu, find Symbol. A dialogue box will open up with a range of symbols in it.
  4. Find the symbol you need to insert and double click it. If you need to insert more symbols then double click them too.
  5. Close the dialogue box and you should see your transcription.
  6. Highlight the whole transcription and make sure it is in DoulosSIL font.
  7. You can now copy and paste this into any other program you want. Because the font is Unicode, your characters will remain unchanged.

Method B: Using an IPA Unicode Keyboard

Advantage: easy to enter lots of data quickly once you've learned the keystrokes

Disadvantage: requires fiddling with language settings on your computer... and only works with Windows

  1. Make sure you've carried out Step 1 above.
  2. Visit SIL's IPA Unicode Keyboards page and download the right keyboard for your computer remembering that UK/European and US keyboards have slightly different layouts so you need to choose the right one.
  3. Decompress the zip file you've downloaded and run the setup file you'll find in the subfolder.
  4. Follow the instructions in the pdf that's included to finish setup.
  5. Each time you want to type IPA into any program, choose Icelandic from your task bar and type according to the tables in the IPA Keyboard Layout section of the pdf. Switch back to your usual language to stop typing IPA.

Method C: Using Keyman

Advantage: well-supported with lots of help to get started

Disadvantage: not free

  1. Make sure you've carried out Step 1 above.
  2. Download the IPA Unicode Keyman Keyboard.
  3. Download and install Keyman from Tavultesoft.com.
  4. Follow their Basic Guide to get started.