About multilingual features in Office

Some of the content in this topic may not be applicable to some languages.

Microsoft Office 2003 programs support editing and viewing of documents in more than 80 languages by taking advantage of the Unicode (Unicode: A character encoding standard developed by the Unicode Consortium. By using more than one byte to represent each character, Unicode enables almost all of the written languages in the world to be represented by using a single character set.) text encoding standard. The many different multilingual features of Office are helpful if you work with files that contain text in more than one language, if you work in a multinational organization, or if you share files with people who use Office on systems that run in other languages.

You or your system administrator can customize Office to handle conventions and requirements that are unique to each language. You can also add language-specific commands and features to Office.

ShowMultilingual features

Here are a few examples of ways you can use multilingual features:

  • Automatic language detection The English (U.S.) version of Office 2003 comes with proofing tools for English (U.S.), Spanish, and French. When you open a document or enter text, Microsoft Word automatically detects the language of the text, and uses the appropriate spelling and grammar dictionaries, punctuation rules, and sorting conventions for that language. Also, when you copy North American English, Spanish, or French text into your document, or check spelling in a document that contains text in more than one of these languages, Word and Microsoft PowerPoint use the spelling dictionaries installed for each language. If you have Microsoft Office 2003 Proofing Tools, you can perform these tasks in many more languages.
  • Flexible date, time, and number style When you enter dates, times, and numbers, Office programs can format them in the correct style for your specific locale and language.
  • Asian characters With a special program called an Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.), you can type characters for Asian languages. In Word, you can then use word-breaking and text formatting conventions specific to Asian text.
  • Text editing in right-to-left and South Asian languages On a system that supports right-to-left languages (such as Arabic) or South Asian languages (such as Hindi, Thai, or Vietnamese), you can edit text in those languages; the Office programs display and format them correctly.
  • Automatic font linking If the assigned font does not include all of the required characters, most Office programs will automatically link to a second font to find the needed characters. This is particularly useful in multilingual documents that include East Asian and right-to-left text.
  • Databases and lists You can create multilingual databases and lists in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access that contain all of the languages supported by Office 2003, including right-to-left and Asian languages. You can also sort and create reports and PivotTable reports that contain information in more than 80 languages.
  • Web pages You can create multilingual Web pages and intranet (intranet: A network within an organization that uses Internet technologies (such as the HTTP or FTP protocol). By using hyperlinks, you can explore objects, documents, pages, and other destinations on the intranet.) content in any of the Office programs.

ShowUnicode support in Office

Microsoft Office is based on the Unicode text encoding standard, which allows Office programs to display documents correctly, no matter what language they are written in, provided the operating system supports the characters specific to that language.

Many of the TrueType (TrueType font: A font (typeface) that appears on a printed document exactly the way it appears on the screen. TrueType fonts are scalable to any font size. Several of these fonts are installed automatically when you install Windows.) fonts provided with Office support a wide variety of languages that use different writing systems (such as Greek, Russian, South Asian, and right-to-left languages) rather than just the languages of Western Europe; a few fonts for Asian languages are provided as well.

The font Arial Unicode MS provided with Office is a full Unicode font, containing all of the approximately 40,000 alphabetical characters, ideographic characters, and symbols defined in the Unicode 2.1 standard. Because of its considerable size and the typographic compromises required to make such a font, Arial Unicode MS should be used only when you can't use multiple fonts tuned for different writing systems. For example, if you have multilingual data in Microsoft Access from many different writing systems, you can use Arial Unicode MS as the font to display the data tables, because these tables can't accept many different fonts. If the Arial Unicode MS font is not installed, you need to install it.

ShowSetting up your computer and keyboard to work in more than one language

Although Microsoft Windows installs many of the files you need, especially Microsoft Windows 2000, some languages may require that you install additional system support through Control Panel.

To enter characters particular to some languages, you might also need to install the correct keyboard layout by using the Text Services icon (if it is available) or the Keyboard icon in Control Panel. For example, install the Greek keyboard so that you can enter characters such as Sigma and Zeta. To enter ideographic characters for Asian languages, you must use an Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.).

ShowSetting up your Office program to work in more than one language

To work with different languages in your Office program, you need to enable the appropriate languages for editing by using the Microsoft Office Language Settings tool.


ShowWindows 2000

On the Start menu, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Office, point to Microsoft Office Tools, and then click Microsoft Office 2003 Language Settings.

ShowWindows XP, Windows 2003 Server

On the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft Office, point to Microsoft Office Tools, and then click Microsoft Office 2003 Language Settings.

Doing so makes additional language-specific options available. For example, if you install the English (U.S.) version of Office and you enable editing for Japanese, commands for formatting Japanese text appear on the Format menu in Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel.

Using the Microsoft Office Language Settings tool, you can also change your default settings in Office to have them match the default settings of a different language. For example, if you are using an English version of Office but frequently work with right-to-left text, you can change the default installation language to a right-to-left language, thereby setting all of the Office defaults to right-to-left.

As you work in Word and PowerPoint, you can set the language of the text so that the correct proofing tools are used, and you can add language-specific words to a custom dictionary. In Word, you can fine-tune the ways the program handles text in different languages. For example, you can turn automatic language detection on or off, sort lists and tables according to the rules of the language you choose, and summarize documents in the language you choose. Additional proofing functionality is available in Microsoft Office 2003 Proofing Tools. For more information about Proofing Tools, see the Microsoft Office Online Web site.

If your organization has purchased Microsoft Office 2003 Multilingual User Interface Pack, you can also change the language of the user interface and Help.

Applies to:
Access 2003, Excel 2003, FrontPage 2003, InfoPath 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Publisher 2003, Word 2003