"Combining characters" from fonts with IPA symbols

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Community Participant

I posted about this as a reply to a question elsewhere, but then it occurred to me that it could be its own topic.

Does anyone know a way to make International Phonetic Association "combining characters" appear correctly in Canvas?  Single characters generally do, like the aforementioned schwa: [ə] and others I use for Spanish like ʧ ʝ ð β ɣ, among others.  But the combining characters don't come out right at all. Unfortunately, what's supposed to be


comes out as n̪    au̯.to   al̟.to, with the combining characters askew from the main character.

A partial workaround I use is to just write out my characters in Word, screenshot them, and embed them in the rich text editor like I did above.  But there's no way to make the symbols work in answer options or elsewhere where I can't insert an image file.  Ideally, I'd just be able to use the combining characters.

Does anyone know of a way to get these characters to come out right? 



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Community Member

Keith (and community),

I also teach Spanish phonetics and have the same problem with combining characters. I have tried all the possible input methods, and the default font in Canvas always misplaces some of the combining characters. I have one solution and one ongoing frustration:

1. Solution: if you are in a Canvas area that allows text formatting (e.g., a Page), you can change the font to anything but the default, and the combining characters will work. Times New Roman, Helvetica, etc., all display correctly in my instance of Canvas.

2. Frustration: you can't format text in Speed Grader, for example. So my feedback to students will appear with incorrect or confusing symbols. I contacted my local Canvas IT people, who said they couldn't fix it (I'm not sure that's true). I also posted a query to the Instructure website; I got a form letter saying to contact my local campus IT--so the corporate run-around. I hope someone at Instructure actually reads my message someday!

At any rate, I hope that (1) above helps everyone get at least some of their IPA to display correctly.


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Community Champion

@kjohn113 -

Not sure if this is a solution, but look into using LaTex.  We have the ability to imbed LaTex into areas where you enter in text (i.e. assignment names - Module names, etc).

I don't know if LaTex has the characters or format you are looking for, but if it does you should be able to get what you want.

The only hard part is figuring out LaTex.  There is some information somewhere in the forum and documentation, but I do not have it bookmarked.


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