Write Chinese Characters Using Pinyin and Phonetic Input Method

Chinese text on computer screen
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Microsoft Windows Language Bar

Microsoft Windows Language Bar
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

When your computer is prepared for Chinese characters you will be able to write Chinese characters using the input method of your choice.

Since most Mandarin students learn Pinyin Romanization, this is also the most common input method.

When more than one language is installed on your Windows computer, the language bar will appear - usually at the bottom of your screen.

Your default language input will be shown when you first boot the computer. In the illustration below, the default language is English (EN).

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Click on the Language Bar

Click on the Language Bar
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Click on the language bar and a list of your installed input languages will be shown. In the illustration below, there are 3 input languages installed.

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Select Chinese (Taiwan) as your Input Language

Select Chinese (Taiwan) as your Input Language
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Selecting Chinese (Taiwan) will change your language bar as shown below. There are two icons. The green one shows that the input method is Microsoft New Phonetic, and the “A” in a square means that you can input English characters.

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Toggle Between English and Chinese Input

Toggle Between English and Chinese Input
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Clicking on the “A” will change the icon to indicate that you are inputting Chinese characters. You can also toggle between English and Chinese input by briefly pressing the “Shift” key.

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Begin Typing Pinyin in a Word Processor

Begin Typing Pinyin in a Word Processor
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Open a word processing program such as Microsoft Word. With the Chinese input method selected, type “wo” and press “Return.” A Chinese character will show on your screen. Notice the dotted line beneath the character. This means you can select from other characters if the correct one did not appear.

You do not have to press return after each Pinyin syllable. The input method will intelligently select characters according to the context.

You can input Pinyin with or without numbers to indicate tones. Tone numbers will increase the accuracy of your writing.

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Correcting Chinese Characters

Correcting Chinese Characters
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

The input method will sometimes choose the wrong character. This happens more often when tone numbers are omitted.

In the diagram below, the input method has selected the wrong characters for the Pinyin “ren shi.” The characters can be selected using the arrow keys, then other “Candidate words” can be chosen from the drop-down list.

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Choosing the Correct Candidate Word

Choosing the Correct Candidate Word
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

In the example above, candidate word #7 is the correct choice. It can be selected with the mouse or by typing the corresponding number.

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Showing the Correct Chinese Characters

I am happy to be acquainted with you.
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

The example above shows the correct Chinese characters which mean "I am happy to be acquainted with you."