The update to Pages for iOS that came out last week (version 1.5) brought the ability to add phonetic guides (aka “ruby text”) to Chinese characters! Pinyin (UPDATE: or Zhuyin) transliterations can be added above hanzi (there are variations for Japanese and Korean, too). The transliteration is done automatically for the selected word(s); you do not have to enter it manually. A good feature of this implementation is the ease with which you can edit the supplied transliteration (I found trying to edit phonetic guide text in OpenOffice very frustrating). The image to the left above shows the pinyin supplied by default for the selected words; the image to the right shows the same after manual editing (since these are proper names).
- Transliterations supplied automatically.
- Ability to edit transliterations when first adding them or at a later time.
- Phonetic guides are not supported in Pages for Mac, so if you transfer the file to your Mac, you lose the transliteration. I assume this will be remedied in an update (just as the footnote support in Pages for iOS went from non-existent, to being able to see footnotes, and finally to being able to insert them).
- The ability to edit the transliterations is partially nullified by the fact that there still seems to be no way to enter a third tone mark with the built-in keyboards. For example, 得 is transliterated as “de” by default in Pages. The editing pane also offers “dé”, but not “děi” and so there is no way to fix this without resorting to another app.
- It’s unclear how many characters you can select at once. Presumably it must be less than a paragraph (since the instructions say not to include a final paragraph mark in your selection). The most I’ve been able to do at once so far is seven characters, but sometimes it seems to want to stop at fewer.
- If you select text across a natural line break and add a phonetic guide to the whole selection at once, reformatting will occur so that the text will be all one one line (i.e. a single phonetic guide cannot span a line break). There’s nothing stopping you from selecting the end of one line and the beginning of the next separately, though.
Apple has instructions in the Pages help available online here, but here are some screenshots of the instructions.