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Say you need to read someone their password over the phone and you spell it phonetically so that there is no confusion between M and N etc.

Now that is straight forward but what if the password is mixed letter case?

Let's take this password: "AbcDe".

What is the correct way to spell out this password so that the user at the end of the phone knows which characters are upper case and which are not?

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closed as off topic by Robusto, Andrew Leach, Mark Beadles, MετάEd, Daniel Oct 3 '12 at 16:11

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This question is off-topic, but surely the answer is simply to describe each letter: "Upper-case Alpha; lower-case Bravo; lower-case Charlie..." –  Andrew Leach Oct 3 '12 at 9:43
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I have heard people say something like, "cap A, b, c, cap D, e." (Cap signifying capital letter.) –  JLG Oct 3 '12 at 12:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 0 down vote accepted

I don't think there's a "correct" way to do this, but there are several common or efficient ways to do it.

I would start by summarizing the password, and then giving the particulars. In other words, I'd begin by saying:

The password is five characters, a-b-c-d-e, mixed case; now, let me give you the case of each letter...

Then, with pauses between each character, I might follow Andrew's suggestion (that is, I might follow the ICAO Phonetic Alphabet), or, depending on who was on the other end of the phone, I might instead use:

  • Upper case "A", as in Adam;
  • Lower case "b", as in Bob;
  • Lower case "c", as in cat;
  • Upper case "D", as in dog...

using common names or everyday words.

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