Here is a basic key to the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. For the smaller set of symbols that is sufficient for English, see Help:IPA/English. Several rare IPA symbols are not included; these are found in the main IPA article or on the extensive IPA chart. For the Manual of Style guideline for pronunciation, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation.

For each IPA symbol, an English example is given where possible; here "RP" stands for Received Pronunciation. The foreign languages that are used to illustrate additional sounds are primarily the ones most likely to be familiar to English speakers, French, Standard German, and Spanish. For symbols not covered by those, recourse is taken to the populous languages Standard Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, and Russian. For sounds still not covered, other smaller but better analyzed languages are used, for example Swahili and Zulu (for the Bantu branch) or Turkish (for Turkic branch) for their respective related languages.

The left-hand column displays the individual symbols in square brackets ([a] (audio speaker icon).) Click on "listen" to hear the sound; click on the symbol itself for a dedicated article with a more complete description and examples from multiple languages. Consonant sounds are spoken once followed by a vowel and once between vowels.

The symbols are arranged by similarity to letters of the Latin alphabet. Symbols which do not resemble any Latin letter are placed at the end.

Several marks can be added above, below, before or after letters. These are here shown on a carrier letter such as the vowel a. A more complete list is given at .

Two types of brackets are commonly used to enclose transcriptions in the IPA:

IPA typeface support is increasing, and is now included in several typefaces such as the Times New Roman versions that come with various recent computer operating systems. Diacritics are not always properly rendered, however. IPA typefaces that are freely available online include Gentium, several from the SIL (such as Charis SIL, and Doulos SIL), Dehuti, DejaVu Sans, and TITUS Cyberbit, which are all freely available; as well as commercial typefaces such as Brill, available from Brill Publishers, and Lucida Sans Unicode and Arial Unicode MS, shipping with various Microsoft products. These all include several ranges of characters in addition to the IPA. Modern Web browsers generally do not need any configuration to display these symbols, provided that a typeface capable of doing so is available to the operating system.

Particularly, the following symbols may be shown improperly depending on your font:

Online IPA keyboard utilities are available and they cover a range of IPA symbols and diacritics: