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Chinese Zhuyin Setup
in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

A Quick Start Guide For
Western Versions of MS Windows 7 and Vista

Zhuyin Ruby Text and Zhuyin Soft Keyboard

This page is for anyone who needs to use Chinese Zhuyin Fuhao phonetic symbols (Bopomofo) in English or other Western versions of Microsoft Windows 7. Do you need to...

  1. Use Zhuyin Fuhao to type Chinese characters?
    • Use the "Standard Keyboard" in the Chinese (Taiwan) Microsoft New Phonetic 10.x input method editor (IME).

      Jump to this »

  2. Type only Zhuyin Fuhao, no hanzi?
    • Use the Chinese (PRC) Zhuyin "software keyboard".
    • Use the Chinese (Taiwan) Zhuyin input method.

      Jump to this »

  3. Add Zhuyin Fuhao next to Chinese characters?
    • Use a Chinese ruby text font (recommended).
    • Use MS Word's "Phonetic Guide" (free if you own Word).

      Jump to this »

1. Zhuyin Fuhao input method keyboard

The Zhuyin keyboard is available as part of the Chinese (Taiwan) Microsoft New Phonetic Traditional character input method. Setup is the same as my instructions for Pinyin Traditional input, except that you skip the last step of changing the keyboard to Pinyin. Zhuyin is the default keyboard for that IME.

To get back to that step if you've already setup Traditional input, with Chinese (Taiwan) selected in the Language Bar, click the Tool Menu icon at the far right, then click "Properties":

Chinese (Traditional) Tool Menu

In the dialog box that appears, click the "Keyboard" tab. In the pull-down menu select "Standard":

Selecting the "Standard" - zhuyin / bopomofo - keyboard in Windows 7

Then click the "OK" button. You may also be interested in the following:

2. Zhuyin symbols only

Option A - Using the PRC software keyboard

Believe it or not, the easiest way to just tap out a few "bo po mo" is to use the Zhuyin soft keyboard included with the PRC input methods!

In the CH status bar, click the Options icon on the far right. Select "Software Keyboard" and then "Phonetic" as in the example below:

Selecting the zhuyin soft keyboard from the Chinese (PRC) Options menu

The PRC Zhuyin Fuhao software keyboard will appear. You can click on the virtual keys with your mouse, or type on your actual keyboard while this software keyboard is visible, and type the symbols into your document:

Typing simple Bopomofo with the PRC software keyboard

Option B - Using the Taiwan input method

You can also do this with the Phonetic keyboard, but not New Phonetic, and it is not as easy. (If you don't have Phonetic in your list, just follow these Traditional IME setup instructions but select Phonetic instead of New Phonetic, and leave the keyboard selection on Standard.) Using this one invokes the input method rather than letting you type directly into the document, so this requires a bit more effort. The only software keyboard available, in fact, is the default keyboard you've set for the input method. Tapping out each symbol requires three actions: press the symbol key (with the mouse or on the physical keyboard), press Spacebar, and press Enter. But eventually you get the same result:

Typing bo po mo with the Taiwan software keyboard.

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3. Zhuyin or Pinyin ruby text

"Ruby text" is characters in a smaller type size placed above or alongside other characters. "Ruby" was originally the name for a small British font used for such annotations. In Chinese, this usually means adding little Zhuyin Fuhao or Hanyu Pinyin next to Chinese characters.

You can try to type these separately and line everything up in your word processor or spreadsheet, but that never looks quite right and often takes forever so I have a couple of suggestions for you.

Ruby layout can also be created in html using the <ruby> tag, but I am not going to get into that here. The following options are for the average user using the average word processor.

 

Option A - Add a Chinese Ruby Font

A Chinese font specifically created for this purpose will offer each Chinese character with ruby annotations as one unit, taking up only the same amount of space as any other character. These fonts can be used just like any other font: just select it and start typing Chinese. If you already have Chinese text in another font, select it and then choose your ruby font from the menu.

Zhuyin and Pinyin ruby fonts in MS Word

If a Chinese character has more than one pronunciation (poyin zi), select that character and choose an alternate version of the same font from the font menu to change the ruby characters. Notice that in the "Recently Used Fonts" section of the font menu above, there is a version of "DFP Biao Kai" with the word "PoIn" near the end of the font name. There are a total five of those poyin variants for each ruby font in this set.

Free ruby fonts: see the more Chinese fonts page for download links to
• HanWang Zhuyin ruby text fonts in Traditional Mingti and Kaiti
• FangZheng Pinyin ruby font in Simplified Kaiti

More ruby fonts: if you like this idea and want a font with more characters and/or different styles, there are ruby fonts for sale. I purchased the fonts in the example above on a CD with three ruby fonts and twenty five other nice-looking fonts in a package called "Dynafonts TrueType 28". That one was distributed by PenPower arrow - new site but I can't find it for sale anymore, however DynaComWare arrow - new site will offer the same fonts for individual sale if you contact the company directly. You can also purchase a large set like the Dynafont HK Gallery arrow - new site or, from a different foundry, the Arphic "Dr. Zhuyin" arrow - new site package. Both companies offer Traditional+Pinyin, Traditional+Zhuyin, and Simplified+Pinyin fonts.

 

Option B - Use MS Word's "Phonetic Guide"

I hate this one, especially when trying to place Zhuyin ruby characters at the side of Hanzi as is the Taiwan education standard. It's not so bad when you put them on top, but overall I find this feature very frustrating for our current purpose. Unlike the font option described above, with Phonetic Guide you are limited to selecting only a one to three sentences at a time. But my main frustration with this feature is how the results look.

Below is a screen shot comparing the results of Phonetic Guide vs. a third-party ruby font. I created this long time ago using Word XP/2002, but there has been no improvement since. (This is very low-resolution, it looked better on the actual printout.)

Comparison of Word Asian Layout ruby characters with a third-party font

The first time attempting to use the Phonetic Guide, most people will find themselves bringing up the dialog box again and again just to add and adjust their ruby characters. As in the above example, their tone marks can get all scrambled up when moving the Zhuyin from above to alongside the hanzi as in the above example. The spacing between characters looks crowded compared to a specially designed font. I could go on.

Eventually you figure out more about how to tweak this. But basically Word's Phonetic Guide is a very slow, cumbersome, unattractive way to create ruby characters. Of course if you already have Word, this is free. Free is good. And if all the extra time you will spend with this is worth less to you (or your boss) than buying an inexpensive font or two, go ahead.

I've listed the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Phonetic Guide here:

 

Alternatives to all of the above include free online tools that annotate your characters with Pinyin and/or translation in multi-line simulations of ruby text. I try to keep a current list of these tools on my Third Party Apps page.

 

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