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FAQ: MS Word's Phonetic Guide Not Displaying Pinyin or Zhuyin Ruby Text

Getting Chinese to work on my computer shouldn't Be this hard...


MS Word's Phonetic Guide, which adds ruby characters above selected text, should automatically offer Pinyin for any Chinese character. But the Pinyin is not appearing in the dialog box. Am I doing something wrong?

No, you're not doing anything wrong! I have heard from people all over the world wondering why this does not work for them. For most of you there is an easy way to fix this, by installing free input method updates from Microsoft.

After selecting some Chinese characters and bringing up the Phonetic Guide dialog box, you should expect to see Pinyin (or Zhuyin as appropriate) automatically showing up in the fields I've circled on this screen shot:

Missing ruby text in Word's Phonetic Guide

So where is the Pinyin? It's not you, it's Windows. Or if you have a Mac, it's Office. Sometimes something for this feature doesn't install right, or goes missing after a big upgrade. Microsoft long ago released a very specific fix for the Zhuyin version of the same problem (see below), but for Pinyin they have been fixing it "accidentally" when releasing updates. In Windows, the solution is to update the Pinyin input method when you can. On a Mac, all you need to do is update Office.

When I reported to Microsoft that I was experiencing this problem in Windows, they confirmed that the bug is not in Word, it is in the Windows Registry, but they offered no help and just told me to wait for an update...and refused to explain whether it was going to be an automatic update, or if not where I was supposed to find it. Eventually with the help of a loyal reader I was able to find where to download that update, and I've been prowling Microsoft websites worldwide looking for new updates ever since.


If Pinyin is missing in XP, Vista, or Win 7, see my instructions for installing the MSPY 2010 IME update. That "2010" update will fix this for Word 2010, 2007, and earlier, because the problem is actually in the Windows system and not in Office. (There is also an IME update included with Office Language Packs, but you do not need to search the world for one of those: all you need is the IME update, a free download from Microsoft.)

If Pinyin is missing in Windows 8 or 8.1, installing MSPY 2012 usually fixes the problem. MSPY 2012 simply reinstalls the original Windows 8 Pinyin input method, but in the process fixes whatever Registry links are missing in your system.

For Windows 8 32-bit systems:
For Windows 8 64-bit systems:

Windows 8 Pro desktops and laptops can run the automated Install.cmd command file in those packages; just follow the steps in the ReadMe file. If this doesn't work, a full reinstallation of 8.0 (and possibly avoiding the 8.1 upgrade) or an upgrade to Windows 10 may be your only solution.

Windows 8 RT tablets won't allow some of the commands in Install.cmd to run, so the system files in the included Windows folder must be copied manually, and then the MSPY2012.reg file must be run manually. Even then this may not work in RT, sorry.

If Pinyin is missing in Windows 10, please let me know. I have not had any reports of this problem in Windows 10 yet. This would be harder to fix, because Microsoft no longer releases standalone input method updates. I suspect the big July 2015 "Anniversary Update" (version 1607) may be a solution, because it contains the first update to the Microsoft Pinyin IME in this version of Windows. If any updates released after that contain changes to that IME, they would also be possible fixes. If you're struggling with this I'd be interested in hearing from you, and maybe we can figure something out together, like enabling Windows Insider Updates. new site

If Pinyin is missing in Mac OS this may be easier to solve, because the solution may be an Office update (and not a system IME update as in Windows). Try going to Microsoft AutoUpdate new site and enabling "Join the Office Insider Program to get early access to new releases." It's worth the trouble to first try "Office Insider Slow" for more stable releases, before getting desperate and turing on "Office Insider Fast". Please let me know if this doesn't work for you.


If Zhuyin is missing in XP, Vista, or Win 7, try installing the Taiwan IME Office IME 2010 update (which does not require any verision of Office despite its name). If the 2010 update doesn't work, please see the Microsoft knowledge base article "Ruby text is not displayed in the Phonetic Guide" new site. Note that whoever wrote that article was incorrect in saying "You do not experience this in Office 2007"...just go ahead install in XP, Vista or Windows 7.

If Zhuyin is missing in Windows 8 or 10, please let me know. I have not had any reports of this problem in those releases, and there may be no easy solution but I'd interested in hearing about it and trying to figure out a fix with you.


Phonetic Guide with pinyin restored

Above you can see Pinyin appearing in my Phonetic Guide after installation of the update. I still think this feature is lousy and prefer fonts with ruby text included, because to get the Preview text you see here I had to manually tweak the font, alignment and spacing and it's still ugly...but it is free and now it works!


Other tips:

For those of you who don't know where to find the Phonetic Guide feature, see this other FAQ on the location of the Phonetic Guide.

If you're getting Zhuyin when you want Pinyin, or vice versa, see this FAQ for two suggestions: using the PRC IME for traditional characters, or reformatting to traditional/Big 5 encoding.

...and if you're sick of struggling with Phonetic Guide, see my short article on the alternative: fonts that include Pinyin or Zhuyin ruby text.


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