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TBT: Spelling it out – using the NATO phonetic alphabet to our advantage

This article was been published more than 6months ago. The information contained herein may be outdated.

This post originally ran in August 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. I still use the NATO phonetic alphabet on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Since posting it, I have also become aware of the beautifully designed chart from Outside Open, featured below:

Outside-Open-NATO-Alphabet-v11When instructing a user to type something, when reading a serial key or when spelling anything via a phone line, radio connection or similar, a problem arises at times; the person on the other end either does not understand what is being said, or understands what is being said as something different to what is actually being said.

This is easily remedied by replacing each letter with a word. The problem is, not all words are suited for this. Many attempts to standardize what words to substitute has been made, but the scheme I have found the best, most logical and easy to understand, is the NATO phonetic alphabet.

Since I adopted it, I have only seen three instances where it has failed me, all of which were due to the recipient having a preconceived notion of what I was about to say. It is clear, simple to learn, and easily understood.

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