Microsoft Office supports right-to-left (right-to-left: Refers to keyboard settings, document views, user interface objects, and the direction in which text is displayed. Arabic and Hebrew are right-to-left languages.) functionality and features for languages that work in a right-to-left or a combined right-to-left, left-to-right environment for entering, editing, and displaying text. In this context, "right-to-left languages" refers to any writing system that is written from right to left and includes languages that require contextual shaping, such as Arabic, and languages that do not. You can change your display to read right-to-left or change individual files so their contents read from right to left.
If your computer doesn’t have a right-to-left language version of Office installed, you will need to install the appropriate language pack. You must also be running a Microsoft Windows operating system that has right-to-left support — for example, the Arabic version of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 — and enable the keyboard language for the right-to-left language that you wants to use.
In this article
Requirements for working with text in right-to-left languages
Windows Vista or Windows 7
If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, before you can use any of the right-to-left features in Microsoft Office, or even correctly display right-to-left scripts, you must Add an input language and enable the keyboard layout for the right-to-left language.
If you are using Windows XP, before you can use any right-to-left features in Office, or even correctly display right-to-left scripts, you must first go into the Control Panel in Windows XP to install the Microsoft Windows complex scripts required. After installing the complex script software, add the keyboard language. For more information, see Set up Windows XP for multiple languages and Enable keyboard layouts for different languages.
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Select a display language
Depending on how you prefer to customize your computer, you can use one language for your display (menus, dialog boxes, and wizards), and type in a different language as needed. If you want both to type in a right-to-left language and see the menus and online Help in that language, you can set the Office display to that language preference. For more information, Set the editing, display, or Help language preferences.
Several right-to-left features in the Office programs use the display language to determine the screen layout direction (direction: Specifies the reading order, alignment, and/or visual appearance of right-to-left text and documents, regardless of the keyboard language. Direction also describes how the user interface, controls, and other screen objects are oriented.) and the alignment of text within dialog boxes. When you specify a right-to-left user display language in the Set the Office Language Preferences dialog box, the layout of menus, dialogs, and wizards are right to left, but the Microsoft Windows settings remain left to right. To learn how to change the display language in Microsoft Windows, see Change the display language.
For example, when Arabic is selected as the display language in the Office (but not in Windows), you see the following display:
Although the menus are displayed right to left, the title bar remains in English and the Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons remain in the upper-right corner, as they do in a left-to-right interface. If the Windows display is set up for a right-to-left language, the language in the title bar would also be translated, and the Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons would be in the upper-left corner.
If you work primarily in a left-to-right language but sometimes need to insert text in a right-to-left language, you can select English (U.S.) for your display language and type in the right-to-left language in most of the Office programs when you want to. To do this, Set right-to-left text, bullets, and numbering for the editing area and enable the keyboard layout.
Change the display language
You can change the text direction from within a Microsoft Office program by clicking the Right-to-left paragraph button in the Paragraph group on the Home tab (this only appears if you have a right-to-left language enabled). Even after changing your display to appear in a right-to-left language, you must have the appropriate keyboard language enabled to enter text in that language.
If your usual display language is English but you want to change it to Arabic, do the following:
- Open an Office file, such as a Word document.
- Click the File tab.
- Click Options.
- Click Language.
- In the Set the Office Language Preferences dialog box, in the Editing Language list, click Arabic, and then click Default.
Important This changes the default editing language for all the Microsoft Office programs.
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To type using a particular language's native keyboard, you must install the appropriate language pack for that language, and add the appropriate keyboard layout. After adding a keyboard layout for another language and selecting the Language bar to be Docked on the taskbar, a language indicator appears on the taskbar and displays the current keyboard language. For example, the language indicator for Arabic is . For more information on the Language bar, see Language bar (overview).
Note The Language bar appears automatically after adding a keyboard for at least one language in addition to English in the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box in Microsoft Windows.
- To display the Language bar when the language indicator on the taskbar is visible, click the language indicator, and then click Show the Language bar.
- To display the language indicator on the taskbar when the Language bar is visible, click the Minimize button on the Language bar.
- To select the keyboard for a different language, click either the name of the current language (on the Language bar) or the language indicator, and then click the name of the other language.
For instructions about how to enable a language-specific keyboard, see Enable keyboard layouts for different languages.
Using the Character Map and ASCII character codes to enter text
Depending on which languages you need, Munja can enter text by using the Character Map or ASCII character codes. For information about ASCII character codes, see Insert ¢, £, ¥, ®, and other characters not on the keyboard.
If you only want to enter a little text in another language and don’t want to switch your keyboard, you can use the Character Map, one of the Accessories in Microsoft Windows, to enter text. You can select a character from one of the right-to-left or left-to-right language font pages, copy it to the Clipboard, and then insert the character in your document. For more information about how to use the Character Map to enter text, see Using special characters (Character Map).
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Display right-to-left text
Text direction refers to the reading order (reading order: The visual order in which characters, words, and groups of words are displayed. English and most other European languages are displayed in left-to-right order and Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu are displayed in right-to-left order.), alignment, and overall layout of screen elements. When right-to-left and left-to-right texts are used together in the same sentence, paragraph, or control, the combined text is known as "mixed".
When the Office program is set up and enabled to display a right-to-left text environment, the appearance of the cursor varies to indicate a left-to-right run (run: A contiguous piece of text or string of characters sharing the same attributes. All characters in a run have the same directional properties.) or , or a right-to-left run . The cursor can either move according to the direction of the language recognized (logical movement) or move to the next visually adjacent character (visual movement).
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Text direction in Access or Excel
Text in a cell (cell: A box formed by the intersection of a row and column in a worksheet or a table, in which you enter information.) or field (field: An element of a table that contains a specific item of information, such as a last name. A Title field might contain Mr. or Ms. Databases such as Microsoft SQL Server refer to fields as columns.) can be left-aligned, center-aligned, or right-aligned. In some programs, such as Access and Excel, text can also have Context text direction.
When text has Context text direction, text and numbers are aligned according to the language of the first character entered — for example, text in the cell or field is right-aligned if the first character is in a right-to-left language, and left-aligned if the first character is in a left-to-right language. You can override Context text direction and switch to Left, Center, or Right text direction for individual objects.
Many right-to-left or combined right-to-left and left-to-right programs apply context rules that control text direction and the reading order of text. Boxes, lists, and other elements control the context rules for the text that they contain.
The context rules for the reading order and text direction are as follows:
- If the first strong character (strong characters: The character set that makes up a particular language, such as vowels and consonants. Punctuation and special characters are not considered to be strong characters.) is left-to-right, the reading order is also left-to-right, and the text is left-aligned.
- If the first strong character is right-to-left, the reading order is also right-to-left, and the text is right-aligned.
- If only neutral characters (neutral characters: Characters that do not have strong right-to-left or left-to-right language attributes. Numerals are an example of neutral characters.) are typed, both the reading order and the direction follow the paragraph direction (direction: Specifies the reading order, alignment, and/or visual appearance of right-to-left text and documents, regardless of the keyboard language. Direction also describes how the user interface, controls, and other screen objects are oriented.) (which can be either left-to-right or right-to-left) until the first strong character is typed.
Any time you change the first strong character from a left-to-right language to a right-to-left language (or vice versa), both the reading order and the text direction change accordingly.
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Set right-to-left text, bullets, and numbering
When both left-to-right and right-to-left languages are enabled, the Left-to-right and Right-to-left paragraph buttons are enabled on the ribbon in most of the Office programs. When you click these buttons, you can change the direction of text when entering and justifying text.
Note In Microsoft OneNote, the Left-to-right and Right-to-left buttons are available by clicking the Paragraph Alignment arrow.
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Select ligatures and diacritics
In word-processing programs — such as Word — you can select, find, and replace individual diacritics (diacritics: Markings that are printed above, below, or next to a character that indicate how to pronounce it.) and individual Arabic characters regardless of whether they are ligated. Each ligature and diacritic is managed as a discrete unit of a right-to-left language word.
The following example shows selecting an Arabic word that has a three-character ligature (as each character is selected).
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Save right-to-left text in HTML format
You can save files in HTML (HTML: The standard markup language used for documents on the World Wide Web. HTML uses tags to indicate how Web browsers should display page elements such as text and graphics and how to respond to user actions.) format for posting on the Web in right-to-left or left-to-right direction. Web pages that have right-to-left direction are marked by using the standard HTML DIR attribute in the HTML file. If the Web browser that you are using recognizes the DIR attribute, the page displays in a right-to-left direction. If your Web browser does not recognize the DIR attribute, the page is displayed in a left-to-right direction.
Tip To view right-to-left Web pages, use a browser that recognizes the DIR attribute, such as at least Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02 Middle East, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 for Complex Scripts, or at least Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.
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Sort in right-to-left order
Right-to-left sort order is applied wherever possible. This applies to data lists in table view, card view, and icon view, and to group-by lists, contact lists, folder lists, and address lists.
Note Some server-side views might not sort data according to right-to-left sort order, because they follow supported server-side sort orders.
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Microsoft Office programs support the following code pages that are available to Arabic, Hebrew, and mixed-text users:
Each code page (code page: A table that relates the binary character codes used by a program to keys on the keyboard or to the appearance of characters on the display. Code pages are a means of providing support for the languages used in different countries/regions.) is identified by a unique code page number. The code page (CP) for Arabic is CP 1256.
- UTF-8, ISO 8859-6, DOS-720, ASMO-708
Dari, Pashto, Persian, Uighur, and Urdu use the same code pages as Arabic.
Each code page (code page: A table that relates the binary character codes used by a program to keys on the keyboard or to the appearance of characters on the display. Code pages are a means of providing support for the languages used in different countries/regions.) is identified by a unique code page number. The code page (CP) for Hebrew is CP 1255.
- UTF-8, ISO 8859-8, DOS-86
Yiddish uses the same code page as Hebrew.
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