The International Phonetic Alphabet

The International Phonetic Alphabet, also referred to as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, is used by Amateur operators to help spell words or callsigns, especially when signals are poor and it is difficult to understand the other station.

Over radio, especially in poor conditions, some letters sound very similar and can easily be misunderstood. For example, F and S can sound the same, M and N is another example. To help avoid this confusion the phonetic alphabet is often used.

  Code Pronounced     Code Pronounced
A Alpha AL-fah   N November no-VEM-ber
B Bravo BRAH-voh   O Oscar OSS-cah
C Charlie CHAR-lee   P Papa pah-PAH
D Delta DELL-tah   Q Quebec key-BECK
E Echo ECK-oh   R Romeo ROW-me-oh
F Foxtrot FOKS-trot   S Sierra see-AIR-rah
G Golf GOLF   T Tango TANG-go
H Hotel hoh-TEL   U Uniform YOU-nee-form
I India IN-dee-AH   V Victor VIC-tah
J Juliett JEW-lee-ETT   W Whiskey WISS-key
K Kilo KEY-loh   X X-Ray ECKS-ray
L Lima LEE-mah   Y Yankee YANG-key
M Mike MIKE   Z Zulu ZOO-loo

Numbers & Special Characters

No. Pronounced   Character Pronounced
1 WUN   . Full stop
2 TOO   , Comma
3 THUH-REE   - Hyphen
4 FO-WER   ( Open bracket
5 FI-YIV   ) Close bracket
6 SIX   ".." Quote .. Unquote
7 SEVEN   / Slant, slash or oblique
8 AIT      
9 NINER      
Ø ZERO      


Alternate Phonetics

Sometimes you will hear Amateur operators using phonetics different to those shown above. Those in the USA most often use the alternate terms, although Australian and other country Amateurs also sometimes choose the alternate terms.

Listed below are the more common alternatives for the NATO Phonetics. Where there are multiple alternates for a letter I have tried to list them in the order of most common, with the more common given in bold text.

  Code   Code
A Adam / Apple / Able N Nancy / Nora
B Baker / Bob O Ocean / Oliver / Orange
C Charles P Peter / Paul
D David Q Queen
E Eddie / Edward R Robert / Roger
F Frank / Fox / Freddie S Sugar / Sam
G George T Tommy / Thomas / Tom
H Henry / Harry U United / Union / Uncle
I Ida V Victoria / Vincent
J Japan / John W William
K King / Kenny X Xavier
L Lincoln / Larry / Love Y Young / Yogi / Yoke
M Mary Z Zebra