Look at this: [ə].
Do you see a phonetic symbol between the square brackets?
(You should see a schwa.)

The International Phonetic Alphabet in Unicode

Displaying IPA symbols


Inserting IPA symbols in web documents


Unicode decimal numbers for IPA symbols

Displaying IPA symbols

For you to be able to display Unicode phonetic symbols correctly on your web browser,

  • the browser must be Unicode-compliant (all current browsers are)
  • you must be running Windows 95 or later, or, on a Macintosh, OSX; (otherwise, and for Unix or Linux, see advice from the Unicode site)
  • you must have installed a Unicode font that includes the IPA symbols
    The list of such Windows TrueType/OpenType fonts currently available and that I recommend is as follows.
    • Arial with Windows Vista; not previous versions
    • Arial Unicode MS
    • Charis SIL (download) — an excellent font from SIL
    • Courier New with Windows Vista; not previous versions
    • Doulos SIL (download) - the familiar SIL Doulos font, now in comprehensive Unicode version
    • Gentium (download)
    • Lucida Grande with Mac OS X/Safari and later
    • Lucida Sans Unicode, (download) — blocky, but widely available (supplied with many versions of Windows)
    • Microsoft Sans Serif with Windows Vista and later; not previous versions
    • Segoe UI with Windows Vista and later
    • Tahoma with Windows Vista and later; not previous versions
    • Times New Roman with Windows Vista and later; not previous versions
  • the web document you are displaying must specify this font with either a style sheet {font-family} tag or an in-line <font face> tag.

The style sheet in the head of this document specifies the font Arial MS Unicode, or failing that Lucida Sans Unicode. There is also another version, with no font specified, that you can use to test fonts.

Inserting IPA symbols in web documents

There are several ways to insert Unicode IPA symbols into your HTML files: by using MS Word (97 and later), or by using a numeric code.

    • In Word, with a Unicode font selected, use Insert | Symbol (normal text) and scroll down the box until you find the character you want. Select it, and Insert.
    • With Word 2003 and later, you can alternatively type in the Unicode hex number (see below), select it, and do Alt-X. The character will appear.
    • If you are going to use the character frequently, it might be worthwhile assigning a Shortcut Key (macro) for it.
    • You can also use the program Character Map to find your character, then select, copy and paste it.
    • Or you can use a keyboard facility such as this.
    • Afterwards, save the document using File | Save as HTML. Word will automatically convert the character into the corresponding numeric entity (see next para) or the corresponding UTF-8 encoding.
  • Alternatively, write direct HTML, referencing each IPA symbol using the code numbers listed below. You can do this using either decimal or hex numbers. To create such a "numeric entity", you put ampersand (&), number sign (#), the Unicode number for the symbol, and semicolon. If using hex numbers, you must place an x between the number sign and the number. For example, to include the velar nasal symbol, ŋ, which has the Unicode decimal number 331, write &#331;, or, since its hex number is 014B, you can alternatively write &#x014B;. To transcribe the English word thing, θɪŋ, write &#952;&#618;&#331; or, alternatively, &#x03B8;&#x026A;&#x014B;. The browser will render these with the correct IPA symbols, always provided an appropriate font is available.
  • Force the use of an appropriate font by including a font tag as mentioned above, for example
    • in your cascading style sheet, p {font-family:"lucida sans unicode";}, or
    • in the text, an in-line tag <font face="Lucida Sans Unicode">.

Unicode decimal and hex numbers for IPA symbols

The Unicode manual lists code numbers only in hexadecimal. Here they are listed with their decimal numbers as well.

Alphabetic | Spacing diacritics | Non-spacing diacritics | Arrows


(excluding the standard characters a-z)

Symbol decimal hex value
ɑ 593 0251 open back unrounded
ɐ 592 0250 open-mid schwa
ɒ 594 0252 open back rounded
æ 230 00E6 raised open front unrounded
ɓ 595 0253 vd bilabial implosive
ʙ 665 0299 vd bilabial trill
β 946 03B2 vd bilabial fricative
ɔ 596 0254 open-mid back rounded
ɕ 597 0255 vl alveolopalatal fricative
ç 231 00E7 vl palatal fricative
ɗ 599 0257 vd alveolar implosive
ɖ 598 0256 vd retroflex plosive
ð 240 00F0 vd dental fricative
ʤ 676 02A4 vd postalveolar affricate
ə 601 0259 schwa
ɘ 600 0258 close-mid schwa
ɚ 602 025A rhotacized schwa
ɛ 603 025B open-mid front unrounded
ɜ 604 025C open-mid central
ɝ 605 025D rhotacized open-mid central
ɞ 606 025E open-mid central rounded
ɟ 607 025F vd palatal plosive
ʄ 644 0284 vd palatal implosive
ɡ 609 0261 vd velar plosive
(but the IPA has ruled that an ordinary g is also acceptable)
ɠ 608 0260 vd velar implosive
ɢ 610 0262 vd uvular plosive
ʛ 667 029B vd uvular implosive
ɦ 614 0266 vd glottal fricative
ɧ 615 0267 vl multiple-place fricative
ħ 295 0127 vl pharyngeal fricative
ɥ 613 0265 labial-palatal approximant
ʜ 668 029C vl epiglottal fricative
ɨ 616 0268 close central unrounded
ɪ 618 026A lax close front unrounded
ʝ 669 029D vd palatal fricative
ɭ 621 026D vd retroflex lateral
ɬ 620 026C vl alveolar lateral fricative
ɫ 619 026B velarized vd alveolar lateral
ɮ 622 026E vd alveolar lateral fricative
ʟ 671 029F vd velar lateral
ɱ 625 0271 vd labiodental nasal
ɯ 623 026F close back unrounded
ɰ 624 0270 velar approximant
ŋ 331 014B vd velar nasal
ɳ 627 0273 vd retroflex nasal
ɲ 626 0272 vd palatal nasal
ɴ 628 0274 vd uvular nasal
ø 248 00F8 front close-mid rounded
ɵ 629 0275 rounded schwa
ɸ 632 0278 vl bilabial fricative
θ 952 03B8 vl dental fricative
œ 339 0153 front open-mid rounded
ɶ 630 0276 front open rounded
ʘ 664 0298 bilabial click
ɹ 633 0279 vd (post)alveolar approximant
ɺ 634 027A vd alveolar lateral flap
ɾ 638 027E vd alveolar tap
ɻ 635 027B vd retroflex approximant
ʀ 640 0280 vd uvular trill
ʁ 641 0281 vd uvular fricative
ɽ 637 027D vd retroflex flap
ʂ 642 0282 vl retroflex fricative
ʃ 643 0283 vl postalveolar fricative
ʈ 648 0288 vl retroflex plosive
ʧ 679 02A7 vl postalveolar affricate
ʉ 649 0289 close central rounded
ʊ 650 028A lax close back rounded
ʋ 651 028B vd labiodental approximant
11377 2C71 voiced labiodental flap
ʌ 652 028C open-mid back unrounded
ɣ 611 0263 vd velar fricative
ɤ 612 0264 close-mid back unrounded
ʍ 653 028D vl labial-velar fricative
χ 967 03C7 vl uvular fricative
ʎ 654 028E vd palatal lateral
ʏ 655 028F lax close front rounded
ʑ 657 0291 vd alveolopalatal fricative
ʐ 656 0290 vd retroflex fricative
ʒ 658 0292 vd postalveolar fricative
ʔ 660 0294 glottal plosive
ʡ 673 02A1 vd epiglottal plosive
ʕ 661 0295 vd pharyngeal fricative
ʢ 674 02A2 vd epiglottal fricative
ǀ 448 01C0 dental click
ǁ 449 01C1 alveolar lateral click
ǂ 450 01C2 alveolar click
ǃ 451 01C3 retroflex click

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Spacing diacritics and suprasegmentals

  • To study these, you may find it helpful to set your browser text size to Largest.

    Symbol decimal hex value
    ˈ 712 02C8 (primary) stress mark
    ˌ 716 02CC secondary stress
    ː 720 02D0 length mark NB: there is a bug in some versions of MS IExplorer that causes this character not to display. It is probably best to use a simple colon instead.
    ˑ 721 02D1 half-length
    ʼ 700 02BC ejective
    ʴ 692 02B4 rhotacized
    ʰ 688 02B0 aspirated
    ʱ 689 02B1 breathy-voice-aspirated
    ʲ 690 02B2 palatalized
    ʷ 695 02B7 labialized
    ˠ 736 02E0 velarized
    ˤ 740 02E4 pharyngealized
    ˞ 734 02DE rhotacized
  • Note the ready-made characters ɚ 602 025A (combining ə 601 0259 and ˞ 734 02DE) and ɝ 605 025D (combining ɜ 604 025C and ˞ 734 02DE).

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    Non-spacing diacritics and suprasegmentals

  • As you can see, several of these are unsatisfactory, particularly in smaller sizes. They are shown here with an appropriate supporting base character. When composing a text in HTML, enter the diacritic after the base character, thus (voiceless n, n̥) n&#805;. The browser automatically backspaces the diacritic, but by a constant amount, which may or may not produce a satisfactory result.
    Symbol decimal hex value
    n̥ d̥ 805 0325 voiceless
    ŋ̊ 778 030A voiceless (use if character has descender)
    b̤ a̤ 804 0324 breathy voiced
    t̪ d̪ 810 032A dental
    s̬ t̬ 812 032C voiced
    b̰ a̰ 816 0330 creaky voiced
    t̺ d̺ 826 033A apical
    t̼ d̼ 828 033C linguolabial
    t̻ d̻ 827 033B laminal
    794 031A not audibly released
    ɔ̹ 825 0339 more rounded
    771 0303 nasalized
    ɔ̜ 796 031C less rounded
    799 031F advanced
    800 0320 retracted
    776 0308 centralized
    l̴ n̴ 820 0334 velarized or pharyngealized
    ɫ 619 026B (ready-made combination, dark l)
    829 033D mid-centralized
    e̝ ɹ̝ 797 031D raised
    m̩ n̩ l̩ 809 0329 syllabic
    e̞ β̞ 798 031E lowered
    815 032F non-syllabic
    792 0318 advanced tongue root
    793 0319 retracted tongue root
    774 0306 extra-short
    779 030B extra high tone
    769 0301 high tone
    772 0304 mid tone
    768 0300 low tone
    783 030F extra low tone
    x͜x 860 035C tie bar below
    x͡x 865 0361 tie bar above


    Symbol decimal hex value
    8595 2193 downstep
    8593 2191 upstep
    8594 2192 (becomes, is realized as — not recognized by the IPA)
    8599 2197 global rise
    8600 2198 global fall

    Top of lists
    Top of document

    For a much more thorough discussion of displaying and using Unicode characters, see Alan Wood's Unicode resources.

    Page authored by John Wells,

    My home page

    Last revised 2012 06 04

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