IPAuto phonetic typing

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[If you are familiar with SAMPA and X-SAMPA codes, you may prefer the alternative approach used in our SAMPAType software.]

Typing IPA is easy with IPAuto.

IPAuto is an add-in for Microsoft® Word (Word 2003 and higher) for rapid phonetic typing of IPA phonetic symbols on a QWERTY keyboard. Using IPAuto you can type IPA with the minimum of effort—in fact the only effort you will ever need to apply is lifting your finger!

  • To type z ...... press the Z key
  • To type ʒ ...... press the Z key
  • To type ʑ ...... press the Z key
  • To type ʐ ...... press the Z key
How does it work?
As you hold down any key you will see alternative forms of the basic symbol, representing different phonetic values, appear in turn. For example when you hold down the H key you will see the various "h-like" symbols appear in this order:
h ... ɥ ... ɦ ... ħ ... ɧ   Demo

When the correct symbol appears, just lift your finger from the key: it really is as simple as that. If you "overshoot" the correct symbol, keep your finger down as the symbols continue to cycle until the correct one reappears.

Take the word photography (IPA: fəˈtɒgrəfi) and its French equivalent photographie (IPA: fɔtɔgʀafi). Using IPAuto the phonetic transcriptions would be typed:

fe..'ta...gre..fi and fo..to..gRafi.

The dots simply show that you need to hold down the E, A and O keys a little longer than usual to generate the symbols ə, ɒ and ɔ.

Visual similarity principle
With IPAuto's intuitive input, there is no need to memorize codes. All symbols based on the letter a, for example, are generated by holding down the A key: a, ɑ, ɒ, æ and ɐ.

Limited use of Shift key
The Shift key is used only for the following symbols:

  • small caps (ʙ, ʜ, etc). These symbols can also be obtained—though less rapidly—without using the Shift key.
  • diacritics and suprasegmentals (eg the signs for aspiration ʰ and palatalization ʲ)
Most frequent symbol first
The sequence of symbols has been chosen so that they appear in rough order of their frequency in the major European languages. For example, when you press the R key the commonest variant ɹ appears first (after r itself), and the relatively rare symbol ɻ appears last.

Adjusting the speed
When you first try IPAuto you may find that at the default speed the symbols change either too fast or too slowly. You can adjust the speed at the click of a button. A little experimentation will soon establish the best setting for IPAuto, given the speed of your processor.

Audio clues
If you prefer touch-typing, an optional beep will sound each time the symbol on the screen changes. Lift your finger as soon as you hear the beep for the one you want. Use this option once you are familiar with the program to avoid constant peering at the screen.

If you prefer watching the screen as you type, this option makes it much easier to identify the symbols visually. The symbol you are typing will be highlighted, changing colour for each variant: for example ɥ, ɦ, etc.

Dropdown menus
Simply click on the appropriate button (Vowels, Consonants, Diacritics, etc) on the toolbar at the top of the screen. A dropdown list will appear, on which you can click on the required symbol. Next to the symbol on the menu you will see a reminder of the correct key to type next time you need this symbol.


Click on the button to see a slowed-down demo of the sequence of symbols.

symbol cycle:    
IPAuto is priced at £26 (approximate conversions are shown below). You can try out the program using our free 15-day trial offer.

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Free 15-day trial offer


System requirements: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Office 2003 or later

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