English words do not always follow simple letter-to-sound pronunciation rules, and thus readers sometimes need to look up a pronunciation of an unfamiliar word, especially in the case of children and foreign learners of English. Pronunciation guides in dictionaries take many forms. The most common guides in American dictionaries use diacritics over many of the vowels to indicate different pronunciations. We compared a commonly used diacritic system with an alternative system that uses only the 26 letters used in English. We found that the alternative system was easier for participants to learn and use to respond with the correct English spelling of a target word given the spelling from the pronunciation guide. We conclude that when dictionary makers want to find a simpler system than one with diacritics, a system such as the one tested here should be considered.

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