Italics indicate that a sound can be elided, e.g. hands /ˈhændz/, an arranged marriage /ən əˈreɪnʤd ˈmærɪʤ/, see Section 12.2. Not all sounds indicated are equally likely to undergo elision. This is determined by factors such as the phonetic context, the frequency of the words and word combinations involved, and the attention speakers pay to their speech, as well as individual habits.
Double underlining indicates potential assimilation, e.g. ten minutes /ˈten ˈmɪnɪts/, told you /ˈtəʊld ju/, on the /ɒn ði/, an urgent message /ən ˈɜːʤənt ˈmesɪʤ/, see Section 12.3. As in the case of elision, some assimilations are more likely than others.
Double underlining combined with italics means that a sound can either be elided or assimilated. For instance, first place transcribed /ˈfɜːst ˈpleɪs/ shows that it can be pronounced/ˈfɜːs ˈpleɪs/ or /ˈfɜːsp ˈpleɪs/.
When more than one adjacent sounds are able to undergo assimilation, then either all or none do so, e.g. can’t buy transcribed /ˈkɑːnt ˈbaɪ/ can be pronounced /ˈkɑːmp ˈbaɪ/ or /ˈkɑːnt ˈbaɪ/, but not / ˈkɑːnp ˈbaɪ/ or / ˈkɑːmt ˈbaɪ/.
An undertie indicates likely /r/-liaison, e.g. a matter of taste /ə ˈmætər‿əv ˈteɪst/, see Section 12.4. When /r/-liaison is not historically justified, but analogical, the <r> symbol is shown in italics, e.g. Anna acts /ˈænər‿ˈækts/, drawing /ˈdrɔːrɪŋ/.
An underlined thought vowel /ɔː/ indicates that the vowel can be either thought /ɔː/ or cure /ʊə/, e.g. tour /tɔː/ can be pronounced /tɔː/ or /tʊə/, see Sections 6.21, 6.23.1.
The underlined affricates /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ indicate that the pronunciations /ʧ/ or /tj/, and /ʤ/ or /dj/ can be used, e.g. tube can be pronounced /ʧuːb/ or /tjuːb/, due can be pronounced /ʤuː/ or /djuː/, see Section 2.14.9.
Word stress is shown with the stress mark [ˈ]. The last stress mark in a word indicates primary stress and any other stress marks indicate secondary stress, e.g. communication /kəˈmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃn̩/.
In compounds which are written as more than one word, a double stress mark [ˈˈ] is used when the primary stress is not the last stress, e.g. plastic bag /ˈplæstɪk ˈbæɡ/ has its primary stress on bag, and carrier bag /ˈˈkæriə ˈbæɡ/ has its primary stress on the first syllable of carrier.
Sentences and dialogues are divided into manageable chunks by the symbol [|], which indicates a potential intonation boundary.
Alternative pronunciations are given in footnotes. Only common variants involving strong vowels and consonants are included.