Section 20

20.1       Fundamentals
20.2       Pronunciation Basics
20.3       Simple Pronunciation
20.4       Diacritic Pronunciation
20.5       Instructional Content
20.6       Reference Sections with Syllabification and/or Pronunciations
20.7       Pronunciation and Summary Keys
20.8       Samples

20.1    Fundamentals

Various systems for representing the pronunciation of speech appear in textbooks. Publishers sometimes use unique systems, and it is not possible to include all of them in these guidelines. This section provides guidance for transcribing simple pronunciation and diacritics.

Simple Pronunciation: Uses font attributes and capitalization to indicate pronunciation and syllable stress.

Diacritics: A pronunciation system is considered to be diacritic when it contains letters of the Latin alphabet and any of the diacritic marks or special letters. Syllable stress usually is shown with stress marks.

See Formats, §21, Alphabetic References, for additional information when pronunciation is used.
When transcribing phonetics—the exact sounds of a letter or letter combinations in a word—refer to IPA Braille (International Phonetic Alphabet, used in the study of linguistics) as the authorized BANA code for the representation of those sounds. The document can be found on the BANA website, at

20.2    Pronunciation Basics

Following are the common guidelines for all pronunciation. Additional information unique to different types of pronunciation is discussed later in this section.

a.  Contractions may be used in a word when the pronunciation of the word is featured.

b.  Use modified letter indicators to represent print diacritic marks. (See UEB, §4, Letters and Their Modifiers.)

c.  Divide syllabified words that do not fit on one braille line at a syllable break.

20.3    Simple Pronunciation

Syllable Division. Follow print for symbols or spaces used to show syllable division. Sample:

Example 20-1: Syllable Division

Pronunciation: 1) enclosed in backslashes, bullet syllable break, hyphen between compound word; 2) no enclosure symbols, space syllable break

Syllable Stress Represented by Capital Letters or Print Emphasis. Syllable stress may be indicated by all capitals or font attributes such as italics.

a.  When text uses full capitalization to show primary syllable stress, place the capital letter or word indicator before the affected syllable.

Example 20-2: Primary Stress Indicated with Double Capitals

Pronunciation stress indicated with all capitals; hyphens used as syllable breaks; enclosed in parentheses


b.  Follow print when a font attribute (e.g., italics, boldface, etc.) is used to show stress.

Example 20-3: Primary Stress Indicated with Italics

Pronunciation stress indicated with italics; spaces used as syllable breaks; enclosed in vertical bars

_\ad ap .1tay %un_\

c.  Follow print when syllabification is not indicated.

Example 20-4: Stress without Syllabification

Pronunciation stress indicated with underlining; word is unspaced and no indication of syllable breaks; no enclosure symbols


Example 20-5: Primary and Secondary Stress

Primary pronunciation stress fully capped, secondary stress italicized; hyphen syllable breaks; enclosed in angle brackets


20.4    Diacritic Pronunciation

a.  Use modified letter indicators for print markings used to indicate diacritic pronunciation.

b.  Use a transcriber-defined modifier for print markings that do not have a braille equivalent.

c.  List modifiers representing diacritic symbols on the Special Symbols page.

d.  Do not use contractions when a modifier applies to one of the letters within a contraction.

Example 20-6: Hyphenated Compound Word

Syllable break for hyphenated compound word indicated with hyphen, and space between other syllables; two vowels have macrons; enclosed in parentheses

"<9-l@-ine sk@-at 9g">

Example 20-7: Partial Pronunciation

Full word pronunciation, space syllable; followed by comma, space, suffix preceded by hyphen; suffix has diacritic; word and suffix enclosed in parens

"<^3ak tiv1 -t@-av">
Syllable Stress Using Print Symbols. Different print signs may be used either before or after syllables to indicate stress. (See UEB, §15.2, Stress, for braille stress symbols.)

a.  Follow print for placement of stress marks. A transcriber's note may be added to the Transcriber's Note page if placement of the stress mark might make it difficult to tell which syllable is stressed.

b.  If stress marks are not included in a pronunciation key, include them on the Special Symbols page.

c.  Stress marks do not replace the print symbol showing syllable breaks.

d.  Use a transcriber-defined indicator for a tertiary stress mark. Note: A grade 1 indicator preceding the transcriber-defined indicator may be required.

Example 20-8: Primary and Secondary Stress

Pronunciation with diacritics, space syllable breaks, enclosed in parens; primary stress after first syllable, secondary stress after third syllable

"<>^.b _5 mat^.2 ik">

Example 20-9: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Stress

No diacritics, hyphen syllable breaks, enclosed in slashes; primary stress 1st syllable, secondary stress 3rd syllable; tertiary stress 2nd syllable

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀@.<.=? repres5ts t]ti>y /ress@.>

Example 20-10: High (Primary) and Low (Secondary) Stress

Pronunciation with diacritics, hyphen syllable breaks, enclosed in backslashes; high stress before 1st syllable, low stress before 3rd syllable


e.  Occasionally a mark appearing over a vowel in words of more than one syllable indicates stress. Use the correct modifier to represent the print symbol(s).

Example 20-11: Stress over the First Vowel in the Syllable

Word with hyphen between syllables, no diacritics, no stress; pronunciation in brackets, no syllables, schwa, stress over 1st vowel in 2nd syllable

a-back .<_5b^/ak.>
Font Attributes in Diacritic Notation. Ignore font attributes when syllables are marked with both stress signs and emphasis.

Example 20-12: Ignore Emphasis When Stress Mark Also Used

Diacritic pronunciation, small dot between syllables; second syllable is bold and followed by primary stress symbol; enclosed in angle brackets

Follow print for emphasis or capital letters appearing in diacritic notation. (See UEB, §4, Letters and Their Modifiers and §8.8, Choice of Capitalized Indicators.)

Example 20-13: Italics and Capitals with Diacritics

4 words; 1) thumb: t h italics; 2) thumb: t h italics and ligature; 3) THen: T H capped; 4) THen: T capped with crossbar and H capped

Diacritic Marking of Two Letters. Enclose the modified letters in braille grouping indicators if a single modifier applies to more than one letter. Note: Grade 1 indicators are not required for the grouping indicators because a modifier cannot be followed by a contraction. (See UEB, §4.2.5, Modifiers.)

Example 20-14: Diacritic Marking of Two Letters

List of two words; 1) fool: macron over o o; 2) there: stroke through t h

Diacritic Marking of Ligatured Letters

a.  The modifier precedes the affected letter when only one of a pair of ligatured letters is marked.

Example 20-15: Diacritic Ligatured Letters

virtue: macron over the u and a tiebar under t u


b.  The modifier precedes the first letter when both ligatured letters are marked with a single diacritic. Use grouping indicators to enclose the modified letters.

Example 20-16: Ligatured Letters with a Single Diacritic Mark

book: macron over ligatured o o

Diacritic Marking above and below a Single Letter

a.  The lowest mark is transcribed first if diacritic marks appear both above and below a letter, or both through and below a letter. Both marks are transcribed before the letter.

Example 20-17: Diacritic Marks above and below Letter

c with cedilla below the c and acute accent above the c


b.  The mark nearest the letter is transcribed first when two or more diacritic marks appear above a letter.

Example 20-18: Two Diacritic Marks above Letter

fear: macron over the e, and circumflex over the macron


20.5    Instructional Content

Follow print when a diacritic symbol is shown in print without an associated letter or word, as in a dictionary entry or instructional material.

Example 20-19: Freestanding Stress Marks within Text

Stress marks shown within an explanatory sentence

⠀⠀,! prim>y /ress m>k is ^.b & !
second>y /ress m>k is

Example 20-20: Freestanding Macron in Text

Macron shown within an explanatory sentence

,! @- %[s ! l;g v[el s.d4

20.6    Reference Sections with Syllabification and/or Pronunciations

Entry words may or may not be syllabified and/or include pronunciation or stress.
A main entry word segment may be a word or phrase.
The definition segment includes the part of speech label, definition, descriptions, examples, etc.

a.  Contract the first writing of entry words without showing syllable breaks, stress, or modifiers.

b.  Insert the word a second time showing syllable breaks and stress if the entry word shows stress and/or syllable breaks.

c.  When the main entry word is followed by punctuation, capitalization, or enclosure symbols, leave one blank cell between it (including respelling and pronunciations) and the definition segment.

d.  When the main entry word segment is not followed by punctuation, capitalization, or enclosure symbols, leave two blank cells between it and the definition segment.

e.  Two blank cells always separate a main entry phrase from the definition segment.

Example 20-21: Not Syllabified, No Pronunciation

accused: bold; followed by part of speech and definition

a3us$⠀⠀adj4 blam$

Example 20-22: Not Syllabified, Pronunciation

accused: bold; followed by pronunciation enclosed in parentheses and part of speech and definition

a3us$"<uh-,,kuzd">adj4 blam$

Example 20-23: Syllabified/Stress, No Pronunciation

accused: bold with hyphen between syllables and primary stress after second syllable; followed by part of speech and definition

a3us$ac-cus$^.b⠀⠀adj4 blam$

Example 20-24: Syllabified, Pronunciation

accused: bold with hyphen between syllables; followed by pronunciation enclosed in parentheses, part of speech, and definition


Example 20-25: Stressed/Syllabified, No Pronunciation

headpiece: HEAD is uppercase followed by hyphen and piece is lowercase; followed by definition starting with capital letter

h1dpiece,,h1d-piece,a helmet or cap
⠀⠀worn to protect ! h1d4

Example 20-26: Phrase not Syllabified, Pronunciation

Achilles heel: Achilles capped, heel lowercase; followed by pronunciation enclosed in parens and definition starting with capped letter

,a*illes heel"<_5-k@+il^.b@-ez h@-el">
⠀⠀,a p]son's w1k or vuln]able po9t4

20.7    Pronunciation and Summary Keys

Pronunciation keys appear in a variety of print layouts, and terms such as pronunciation key and pronunciation table are used interchangeably.
Summary keys are a reminder of the diacritics being used, and appear typically on each page or alternate pages in some alphabetic reference material. (See Sample 20-1: Pronunciation and Summary Keys on page 20-13, Sample 20-2: Pronunciation and Paragraph Summary on page
20-14, and Sample 20-3: Pronunciation Key on Odd Pages on page 20-15.)
Placement of Pronunciation Keys

a.  Insert pronunciation keys before the alphabetic reference material regardless of where they occur in print.

b.  The pronunciation key is necessary in every volume in which pronunciations are used. If the pronunciation key is needed in any other volume than the one in which it occurs, place it in the preliminary pages. Note: Maintain the original placement if there are no pronunciations prior to the print location of the key.

c.  Include the print page number of the transposed page that contains the repeated pronunciation key on the title page. For example:

Title page: Print pages 395, 45-a86

Format for Pronunciation Keys. The format for pronunciation keys varies, depending on how print sample words are shown.

a.  Follow print when categories are provided.

b.  Do not assign headings when none are shown in print.

c.  When pronunciation keys are shown in columns, list the entries using 1-3 margins, or 1-5, 3-5 for a nested list. Omit print column headings. Explain the change to print in a transcriber's note.

d.  Precede symbols by the dot locator for "mention." Letters, groups of letters, or letters with modifiers do not require the dot locator and should be transcribed without contractions.

Example 20-27: Pronunciation Key in Columns with Headings

Two-column pronunciation key. Column 1 = Symbol; Column 2 = Example Words

a ^2at1 b^2ad
;e ^2ev5
ng lo^1ng1 pi^2nk
oi ^1oi^'l1 t^1oy
;u ^2up1 m^2ud
zh vi^1si^'on1 sei^2zure
Example Words in Pronunciation Keys

a.  Begin each pronunciation key entry in cell 1.

b.  Contract example words.

c.  Follow print for use of emphasis.

Example 20-28: Example Words Without Emphasis

Pronunciation key in columns; each entry is followed by example words in regular type

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀,pronuncia;n ,key
a back
ah "f
ay "d
ch nature
;e less
i idea1 life

Example 20-29: Schwa

schwa followed by = (equals) and example

.=_5 "7 a 9 abv

Example 20-30: Diacritic Symbols without Identification

Three listed diacritic symbols (breve, diaeresis, macron)

Summary Keys

a.  Omit the summary key when print includes a pronunciation key and a summary key.

b.  Include the summary key when it is the only type of key.

c.  Insert summary keys before the beginning of dictionaries or glossaries. Do not repeat them in following text.

d.  Follow print paragraph or list format.

Example 20-31: Summary Key with Diacritics

Summary key with bold isolated letters in example words; some bold letters also have diacritic symbols

^2add1 ^2@-ace1 c^2^%are1 p^2^3alm2
^25d1 ^2@-equal2 ^2x1 ^2@-ice2 ^2odd1
^2@-op51 ^2^%ord]2 ^2up1 b^2^%urn2 .=_5
"7 a 9 abv1 ;e 9 sick51 i 9 possible1 o
9 melon1 ;u 9 circus

20.8    Samples

Sample 20-1: Pronunciation and Summary Keys (Print Only)

Summary key at bottom of page in spelling dictionary (print only)

Pronunciation key in spelling dictionary (print only)

Sample 20-2: Pronunciation and Paragraph Summary (Print Only)

Summary key at beginning of glossary (print only)

Pronunciation key in glossary (print only)

Sample 20-3: Pronunciation Key on Odd Pages (Print Only)

Pronunciation key at bottom of page in glossary (print only)

Sample 20-4: Pronunciation Key without Heading

Pronunciation key without a heading and in three columns

 1⠀7777777777777777777777777777777777   #,-
 2⠀a add
 3⠀@-a ace
 4⠀^%a c>e
 5⠀^3a palm
 6⠀;e 5d
 7⠀@-e equal
 8⠀i x
 9⠀@-i ice
10 o odd
11 @-o op5
12 ^%o ord]
13 @+<oo> took
14 @-<oo> pool
15 ;u up
16 ^%u burn
17 y@-<oo> fuse
18 oi oil
19 ou p\t
20 ng r+
21 th ?9
22 @*<th> ?
23 zh vi.n

—New Braille Page—

 1⠀.=_5 "7                             a#,-
 2⠀⠀⠀a 9 .1abv
 3⠀⠀⠀;e 9 .1sick5
 4⠀⠀⠀i 9 .1possible
 5⠀⠀⠀o 9 .1melon
 6⠀⠀⠀;u 9 .1circus