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FAQ: MS Word Phonetic Guide Producing Zhuyin Instead of Pinyin Ruby Text

Getting Chinese to Work in Windows Shouldn't Be This Hard...

I am trying to use MS Word's Phonetic Guide to place Pinyin ruby text over Chinese characters, but Word is automatically generating Zhuyin (bopomofo) instead? Can I force it to convert the sounds to Pinyin instead?

This problem usually arises when the Chinese characters were typed using the Taiwan/HK/Macau Traditional input method editor (IME). The underlying character encoding makes the system assume you want Zhuyin instead of Pinyin.

I really dislike the Phonetic Guide feature - I prefer fonts with ruby text included - but let's work here with what you've got in front of you today. Although there is at least one a free Simplified Chinese font with Pinyin ruby text, the only such fonts I know of in Traditional characters must be purchased from DynaComware arrow - new site or Arphic. arrow - new site


Suggestion #1: use the PRC/Singapore IME

If you can start with a new blank document, simply switch to the PRC/Singapore IME, which since the MSPY 2007 and 2010 updates can be used to input Traditional characters in Windows 7, and this feature is included with Windows 8, and Windows 10. As long as you don't need to exchange your files with people in Taiwan/HK/Macau or use systems set to those locales, this should not be a problem.

In addition to the few Traditional character fonts included with Windows that will work with the PRC/Singapore IME, you can also use a font like 漢鼎繁中楷 from the University of Heidelberg, now available free from Abacus Chinese Translation. Open new page in new page or tab This is because it is a Traditional character font but the underlying encoding is GB, so Windows will see this as a font that is tied to the PRC/Singapore IME and then Phonetic Guide will give you Pinyin instead of Zhuyin. (Many thanks to Li-Ling Cheng of the Caitlin Gabel School for experimenting with those fonts and letting me know!)

Please note that it is best to avoid sharing your document with most Traditional Chinese users. A file containing mixed encoding may turn into "tofu boxes" and other garbage characters at the most inconvenient moments.


Suggestion #2: select text, click button, change the encoding

If you are working with an existing Traditional Chinese document (or if you want to use the Taiwan/HK/Macau IME with new documents), you will need to "trick" the system into believing you have a mainland document.

In recent versions of Word, just select any Traditional Chinese text, and at the bottom of the Word document window look for a section of the information bar that says "Chinese (Taiwan)", "中文(台灣)", or something similar in any language. Click it, and change to "Chinese (PRC)" or equivalent. Then run Phonetic Guide again, and you should see Pinyin there. Before clicking "OK", you'll probably want to change the Alignment to "Centered", and perhaps adjust the offset and size to match the size used in your document.

This works in Word 2013, 2010, and I think 2007, but in Word 2003 or earlier you may have to go to the Format menu, select "Reveal formatting", and change the language setting in there.

Please note that it is best to avoid sharing your document with other users now. A file containing mixed encoding may turn into "tofu boxes" and other garbage characters at the most inconvenient moments.


Do you want to convert between Simplified and Traditional?

If you landed on this page looking for a way to automatically convert between Simplified to Traditional Chinese characters, you will need to use an Office Language Pack's Proofing Tools, or one of the online services listed among the "Free Online Chinese Tools" on my third-party Chinese tools page. Please proofread carefully! This process is not perfect.


Other Phonetic Guide FAQs

Pinyin or Zhuyin not appearing in MS Word's Phonetic Guide

How do I find Phonetic Guide in MS Word?

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