Please note javascript is required for full website functionality.


A to Z of Excel Functions: The PHONETIC Function

9 October 2023

Welcome back to our regular A to Z of Excel Functions blog.  Today we look at the PHONETIC function.


The PHONETIC function

Nope, it’s nothing to do with that image (and it’s not a type of phone energy either).  Excel’s PHONETIC function may be used to extract the phonetic (furigana) characters from a text string containing Japanese characters.  This function is particularly useful for users working with Japanese text, as it helps in understanding the pronunciation of the characters.  A basic understanding of Japanese is assumed!

To use the PHONETIC function, your region setting must be one of the Far East languages (Japanese, Chinese and Korean).

The PHONETIC function has the following syntax:


It has just one argument:

  • reference: this is required and represents a text string or a reference to a single cell or range of cells that contain a furigana text string.

It should be further noted that:

  • if the reference is a range of cells, the furigana text string in the upper-left corner cell of the range is returned
  • if the reference is a range of nonadjacent cells, the #N/A error value is returned.

Please see my examples below:

We’ll continue our A to Z of Excel Functions soon.  Keep checking back – there’s a new blog post every business day.

A full page of the function articles can be found here