UK Phonetic Alphabet – Free Download

Stationery, chalkboard and UK flag on color background with words

What is the UK Phonetic Alphabet?

The UK Phonetic Alphabet is a way of spelling out letters that can be easily confused on the telephone.

For example, over the telephone, the postcode “NP2 3BP” could easily be misheard as “MB2 3PP” which would be a very different location. To get around this, the phonetic alphabet was developed.

The Standard Phonetic Alphabet used in the UK is the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

UK Phonetic Alphabet
Letter Word Phonic
A Alpha AL FAH
C Charlie CHAR-LEE
J Juliette JEW LEE ETT
N November NO VEM BER
V Victor VIK TAH
W Whiskey WISS KEY

Printable UK Phonetic Alphabet

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Get your free download of the UK Phonetic Alphabet now:

UK Phonetic Alphabet Free Download
Free UK Phonetic Alphabet in Printable PDF Format
Version: 2
Date Added: 25 May 2022
File Type: pdf
File Size: 93.6 KB
Category: Tools
Download Link: Download

Download Free UK Phonetic Alphabet in Editable Word Format

Download Free UK Phonetic Alphabet in Editable PowerPoint Format

Easily Confused Spoken letters

A number of letters in the English Language are Easily Confused

  • B, C, D, E, G, P, T and V
  • M and N
  • F, S and X
  • Y and I
  • G and J (particularly when pronounced by a non-native speaker)

The Modified UK Phonetic Alphabet

A lot of our readers pointed out that although the NATO alphabet works well if both people understand it, it is not so easily understood in a telephonic format as it uses less commonly used words such as “Sierra” or “Foxtrot”.

We have replaced the less common words and have produced a UK Phonetic Alphabet for Phone Calls. We have highlighted the words that have changed from the standard NATO version.

The UK Phonetic Alphabet for Phone Calls

Modified UK Phonetic Alphabet
Letter Word
A Apple
B Bravo
C Charlie
D Delta
E Echo
F Freddie
G Golf
H Hotel
I India
J Juliette
K Kilo
L London
M Monkey
N November
O Orange
P Papa
Q Queen
R Robert
S Sugar
T Tommy
U Uncle
V Victor
W Whiskey
X X-Ray
Y Yellow
Z Zulu

Printable Modified UK Phonetic Alphabet

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Simplified UK Phonetic Alphabet

Victoria Williams, Senior Professional Services Manager at Vonage, uses a different version of the phonetic alphabet and has shared her version with us:

Simplified UK Phonetic Alphabet

A is for Apple

B is for Biscuit

C is for Cat

D is for Dog

E is for elephant

F is for Fish

G is for Gorilla

H is for Happy

I is for Ice Cream

J is for Juliette

K is for Kilo

L is for Lemon

M is for Monkey

N is for No One

O is for Orange

P is for Papa

Q is for Queen

R is for Romeo

S is for Sunshine (or Sugar)

T is for Tango

U is for Umbrella

V is for Victoria

W is for Whiskey

X is for X-ray

Y is for Yesterday

Z is for Zip

How is the Phonetic Alphabet Used in the Contact Centre?

1. Used as Part of Induction Training

Way back when I used to be on the phones over 20 years ago, this was the normal practise at the company I worked at. We all used phonetic alphabet and it was formally part of the training. Customers understood it as a means to relay back spelling of names or alpha numeric references for confirmation.

Thanks to Guy

2. Strong Correlation Between Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and the Phonetic Alphabet

I’ve just analysed 10,000 call transcripts for a major UK bank.

Use of the phonetic alphabet was not found once in any NPS Detractor conversations.

Conversely, 4.6% of all NPS promotors feature this behaviour. Of course, there’s far more going on than this, but the absence of this agent behaviour correlates highly with the worst customer NPS outcomes.

Thanks to Andrew Moorhouse at Deloitte

3. Use A for Apple as Some Customers Struggle

I remember in my first agent role we used to have it on a printout stuck to the screen (retro!) following training.

I’ve always used a “simple” Phonetic – switched Alpha for Apple etc as some customers struggled.

So a Hybrid but still used!

Thanks to Holly

4. It Helps Customers and Advisors Spell Correctly

Any teams I work with have to learn the phonetic alphabet! This might sound old-fashioned – however it helps customers and advisors to spell correctly – which is an absolute must!

Thanks to Marianne Rutz

Which Industries Use the Phonetic Alphabet?

Wondering if the phonetic alphabet is right for your contact centre?

Whilst any contact centre regularly taking down information (such as addresses) will find the phonetic alphabet of use, you’re most likely to use the phonetic alphabet in the following industries:

  • Finance or banking
  • Insurance
  • Real estate
  • Travel or hospitality
  • Medical / healthcare

5. Improves Quality and Reduces Errors

first thing they get trained in training when in a contact centre role. It’s a must, not only does it help with noting customers accounts and capturing accurate information, it helps with quality as reduces the amount of input error on systems and calls. An absolute must in my opinion.

Thanks to Jennifer

6. Use S for Sugar

We always encourage people to check details and the phonetic alphabet is standard for that. We find customers hear C instead of S for Sierra, so S for Sugar tends to be the go-to.

Some of our clients get creative with it – the HP postcode could become Harry Potter for instance. It depends on who your customers are.

I have heard of “n” for Knickers on my travels, and that is the reason why we use the Phonetic Alphabet!

Thanks to Diane Banister

7. Printed Sheets During Training

Robert Sykes Headshot

Robert Sykes

We used it all the time in the Ambulance service, it was never a problem to train and no one ever had an issue using it.

We printed a sheet that went in their personal folder when they started but to be fair after a week everyone knew it. I haven’t used it for many years but it seems to stay in your head. It is easily understood as the words are chosen so they can’t be misunderstood for a similar word.

If I said “B for Bear” you might hear “Bare, Care, Fair, Lair, Mare” whereas “B for Bravo” can’t be mistaken.

If I said “B for Bear” you might hear “Bare, Care, Fair, Lair, Mare” whereas “B for Bravo” can’t be mistaken.

It is only critical in critical circumstances, where you have a call centre and mis hearing just takes longer to get a name or a postcode it is just a matter of time.

Thanks to Robert Sykes

8. A Key Part of Induction Training

Advisors must use the ‘proper’ phonetic alphabet on every call when confirming details captured.
We have it up on a whiteboard and everyone has a custom print-out in front of them. It’s also taught in our induction program. It’s easy to learn and callers respond well.

Thanks to Hero PA

9. Use M for Muhammad in Islamic countries

I believe it’s the most historical reliable method. It’s easy to train, but you need to keep flexibility within cultural and custom preferences as it will be easier to implement it.

Such as the M letter could be “Muhammad in Islamic countries” or “Mike in western countries”

Customers do understand it easily.

Thanks to Dani B. AtaAllah

10. Use Words the Customer Understands

Kim Ellis

Kim Ellis

I have always included the phonetic alphabet in the induction training.

I have emphasised that as long as you and the customer know which letter you are saying then it’s OK.

For example, O for orange is fine.

Thanks to Kim Ellis

11. Use it in Role Play, Team Building Games and Quizzes

I learned the phonetic alphabet in my contact centre induction training (back when Noah was building his ark!) I still use it now. It is clear and simple and really improves accuracy.

It was easy to train, and we built it in to other aspects of training (role play, team building games and quizzes) to confirm understanding etc. So it was an ever present.

Thanks to Elaine Lee

12. To Build Rapport Mirror the Customer

I’ve always taught my agents to use the phonetic alphabet but as a way to build rapport mirror the customer. For example, if the customer says S for Sugar, repeat that back rather than S for Sierra.

Thanks to Jason

Do You Use a Different Phonetic Alphabet?

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If you are looking for real information on, or printable versions of, the phonetic alphabet – we’ve got you covered, just check out these next:

Author: Jonty Pearce
Reviewed by: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 13th May 2022 - Last modified: 28th Feb 2024
Read more about - Skills, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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