ISO basic Latin alphabet

The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet and consists of two sets of 26 letters, codified in[1] various national and international standards and used widely in international communication.

The two sets contain the following 26 letters each:[1][2]

Uppercase Latin alphabet (Majuscule forms, also called uppercase or capital letters)
Lowercase Latin alphabet (Minuscule forms, also called lowercase or small letters)


By the 1960s it became apparent to the computer and telecommunications industries in the First World that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) encapsulated the Latin script in their (ISO/IEC 646) 7-bit character-encoding standard. To achieve widespread acceptance, this encapsulation was based on popular usage. The standard was based on the already published American Standard Code for Information Interchange, better known as ASCII, which included in the character set the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 8859 (8-bit character encoding) and ISO/IEC 10646 (Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin script with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.[1]


Name for Unicode block that contains all letters

The Unicode block that contains the alphabet is called "C0 Controls and Basic Latin".

Names for the two subsets

In Unicode 7.0 two subheadings exist:[3]

Names for the letters

The letters are also contained in "Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms" FF00 to FFEF[4]


Timeline for encoding standards

Timeline for widely used computer codes supporting the alphabet


Hindu-Arabic numerals and letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet on a 16-segment display.

In ASCII the letters belong to the printable characters and in Unicode since version 1.0 they belong to the block "C0 Controls and Basic Latin". In both cases, as well as in ISO/IEC 646, ISO/IEC 8859 and ISO/IEC 10646 they are occupying the positions in hexadecimal notation 41 to 5A for uppercase and 61 to 7A for lowercase.

Not case sensitive, all letters have code words in the ICAO spelling alphabet and can be represented with Morse code.


All of the lowercase letters are used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). In X-SAMPA and SAMPA these letters have the same sound value as in IPA. In Kirshenbaum they have the same value except for the letter r.

Alphabets containing the same set of letters

The list below only includes alphabets that lack:

alphabet diacritic multigraphs (not constituting distinct letters) ligatures
Afrikaans alphabet á, é, è, ê, ë, í, î, ï, ó, ô, ú, û, ý
Catalan alphabet à, é, è, í, ï, ó, ò, ú, ü, ç
Dutch alphabet ä, é, è, ë, ï, ö, ü The digraphij⟩ is sometimes considered to be a separate letter. When that is the case, it usually replaces or is intermixed with ⟨y⟩.
English alphabet -none- sh, ch, ea, ou, th, ph, ng, zh æ, œ
French alphabet à, â, ç, é, è, ê, ë, î, ï, ô, ù, û, ü, ÿ ai⟩, ⟨au⟩, ⟨ei⟩, ⟨eu⟩, ⟨oi⟩, ⟨ou⟩, ⟨eau⟩, ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ph⟩, ⟨gn⟩, ⟨an⟩, ⟨am⟩, ⟨en⟩, ⟨em⟩, ⟨in⟩, ⟨im⟩, ⟨on⟩, ⟨om⟩, ⟨un⟩, ⟨um⟩, ⟨yn⟩, ⟨ym⟩, ⟨ain⟩, ⟨aim⟩, ⟨ein⟩, ⟨oin⟩, ⟨⟩, ⟨ æ, œ
German alphabet ä, ö, ü sch⟩, ⟨qu⟩, ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ph⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨ie⟩, ⟨ck⟩, ⟨ei⟩, ⟨eu⟩, ⟨äu ß
Ido alphabet -none- qu⟩, ⟨ch⟩, ⟨sh -none-
Indonesian alphabet -none- kh⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨ny⟩, ⟨sy
Interglossa alphabet -none-
Interlingua alphabet -none- qu -none-
Luxembourgish alphabet ä, é, ë
Malay alphabet -none- gh⟩, ⟨kh⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨ny⟩, ⟨sy -none-
Occidental alphabet -none-
Portuguese alphabet ã, õ, á, é, í, ó, ú, â, ê, ô, à, ç ch⟩, ⟨lh⟩, ⟨nh⟩, ⟨rr⟩, ⟨ss⟩, ⟨am⟩, ⟨em⟩, ⟨im⟩, ⟨om⟩, ⟨um⟩, ⟨ãe⟩, ⟨ão⟩, ⟨õe -none-

English is the only major modern European language requiring no diacritics for native words (although a diaeresis is used by some publishers in words such as "coöperation").[7][8]

Note for Portuguese: k, w and y were part of the alphabet until several spelling reforms during the 20th century, the aim of which was to change the etymological Portuguese spelling into an easier phonetic spelling. These letters were replaced by other letters having the same sound: thus psychologia became psicologia, kioske became quiosque, martyr became mártir, etc. Nowadays k, w, and y are only found in foreign words and their derived terms and in scientific abbreviations (e.g. km, byronismo). These letters are considered part of the alphabet again following the 1990 Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement, which came into effect on January 1, 2009, in Brazil. See Reforms of Portuguese orthography.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Internationalisation standardization of 7-bit codes, ISO 646". Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA). Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  2. "RFC1815 – Character Sets ISO-10646 and ISO-10646-J-1". Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  3. "CO Controls and Basic Latin" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  4. "Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  5. "Unicode character database". The Unicode Standard. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
  6. The Unicode Standard Version 1.0, Volume 1. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc. 1990. ISBN 0-201-56788-1.
  7. As an example, an article containing a diaeresis in "coöperate" and a cedilla in "façades" as well as a circumflex in the word "crêpe" (Grafton, Anthony (2006-10-23). "Books: The Nutty Professors, The history of academic charisma". The New Yorker.)
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