As a university professor and researcher in the field of English phonetics, I deal with the musical side of the language: its sounds and intonation. It is well known that recording music requires a special notification system. The system used in phonetics is called the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and it comprises both the usual letters of the Latin alphabet and very specific symbols, rarely used otherwise.
At the present moment, there exist several IPA fonts that one can choose from - some are prettier than others (Phonetic), some are more functional (Lucida Sans Unicode) - and it is a real joy to be able to use them while working on the computer.
However, joy stops and trouble begins when you need to open your document on somebody else's computer, or even worse, if it is somebody else that needs to open and, say, print it out for you. Even if it is a Unicode font that you use, which supposedly you can find on any computer nowadays, you cannot be 100% sure that what opens looks exactly like you intended it to look.
I had a quite sad experience when I submitted an article to a publisher to be published in a collection of linguistic articles and provided the publisher not only with my text, but also with the fonts used in it. Nevertheless, for some reason, when I saw the book, I realized that none of my phonetic examples looked correct. With all the examples so distorted and garbled, my whole article turned into a bunch of nonsense! This experience of mine represents a rather unfortunate, but rare occasion. Other instances which are less tragic, but very inconvenient and frequent are when I need to quickly print out some assignment for my students while at the university, using one of the department computers, or when I want to send an assignment to my students by email. Again, I can never be sure about the result.
My troubles ended and joy began again when I found a very easy solution to my problems by using Universal Document Converter - a program which allows you to turn either the whole document or parts of it into a picture, thus ensuring that the end result will not be distorted and will appear exactly as intended. What's nice about this program is that you do not have to spend any time figuring out how to convert the text into a picture. All you have to do is print it on the special virtual printer that's configured automatically when you install the program. I hate reading instructions, and this is one program that I don't have to even think of how to use since it is so simple to understand.
I'm sure that this program will be greatly appreciated by many other specialists besides phoneticians, who have to use special symbols in their work such as mathematicians, for example.
Elena Watson, PhD