The ITU Alphabet

In amateur radio, one of the many things you will need to be familiar with is the ITU Alphabet.  The ITU Alphabet is the ham radio standard for using words to phonetically spell out things over the air…especially one’s call sign.  This has been standardized by the International Telecommunication Union, which is the UN body which presides over international radio, information, and communication technologies.  This alphabet, as you may know, is not just for use in ham radio.  It is used in the military, in aviation, and in other sectors for communicating over the air waves.

Why is this necessary?

Well, if you have any experience in radio communications, I do not need to explain it to you.  However, if the reason escapes you, try imagining saying letters like “D,” “B,” or “V” over fuzzy air waves.  Yep.  Easy to hear things wrong.

So in order to help keep things clear, this phonetic alphabet system was developed to be able to accurately communicate which letters should be understood.

In ham radio, it is used most often when clarifying one’s call sign.  Of course, it is also used to spell out other things as well.

Here is a printable cheat sheet with the ITU Alphabet.  Along with this phonetic alphabet are the Morse code equivalents to each of the letters.  You may print this for your personal use (but please not for resale or mass distribution.)




ITU Alphabet Card


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