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...
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:
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:
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:
"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.
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.
I purchased the fonts in the example above on a CD with three ruby fonts and twenty five other nice-looking fonts, "Dynafonts TrueType 28", distributed by PenPower. I'm told there are also Pinyin and Zhuyin ruby fonts in Arphic's "Dr. Zhuyin" package, and in the Dynafont 2010 HK edition.
Wazu.jp offers links to free Zhuyin ruby fonts from the Hsinchu (Xinzhu) county education department, "HanWangKaiMediumChuIn" and "HanWangMingMediumChuIn". Those fonts probably do not contain all possible poyin zi, but each does include over 14,000 traditional characters.
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.)
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. For example, under "Free Online Chinese Tools", look for MandarinSpot, and under "Commercial Chinese Applications" look for the inexpensive ChinaScribe which works directly with MS Word.