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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.

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 Windows 10 this will be harder to fix than in the past, because Microsoft no longer releases standalone input method updates. I had no reports of this problem in Windows 10 until after a cumulative update in November 2017, which affected some but not all users.

Because updating is now automatic, all I can suggest is enabling Windows Insider Updates new site so that you receive system updates faster. As in the past, one of those updates will eventually fix this problem.
The best solution may be to give up on Phonetic Guide entirely, and use ruby fonts with Pinyin above Chinese characters instead. I have a link to one free Pinyin ruby font on the third-party fonts page.

Sorry, that's all I've got for now. Please let me know if you have suggestions or if I can help you work through this problem. Phonetic Guide is still working on all my Windows 10 machines.


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 XP, Vista, or Win 7, see my instructions for installing the MSPY 2010 IME update. It will fix this 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 Mac OS this may be easier to solve, because the solution is usually an Office update rather than a system IME update as in Windows:

First try a simple update using Microsoft AutoUpdate new site and if that doesn't solve the problem then try going back into AutoUpdate to enable "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".

If your organization has purchased enterprise/government volume licensing new site you may need assistance from your IT administrator for updates and upgrades of any kind. If you have an Office 365 or Student subscription new site you should also check to see if you are eligible for an entirely new release.

If no Mac Office update or upgrade will work, you have these options:

  1. switch to ruby fonts with Pinyin above Chinese characters instead, and/or,
  2. wait for an update to fix this, but those often take over six months to arrive, and/or
  3. take your installation back to an earlier point, before the update that broke Phonetic Guide. Going backwards is easy if you can still reinstall from discs or files, but most people now have automatically updating subscriptions like 365, and will need to follow the Microsoft instructions for reverting to an earlier Click-to-Run version. new site

If none of the above works for you, please let me know.


The OpenOffice and LibreOffice Phonetic Guides have never contained this automatic Pinyin/Zhuyin lookup feature. I do know of at least one developer who wrote his own Pinyin feature for Linux, and that is available free on SourceForge. I maintain information about that in my list of other Chinese language features in OOo & LOo.


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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