Word features for right-to-left languages

The feature or some of the options described in this Help topic are only available if support for 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.) languages is enabled through Microsoft Office Language Settings.

Creating, opening, and saving right-to-left documents

ShowCreating new documents

ShowSaving documents

  • If you open and convert a file from another program, saving it within Microsoft Word with right-to-left features enabled will render the file incompatible with its original program.
  • If you have a file that uses right-to-left features and you want to save it in Word 6.0/95 format, you should save the file in RTF format.
  • You can include right-to-left marks when you save a text file.

 Note   You can save files with or without control characters (control characters: Characters that are inserted in right-to-left and mixed text to specify the formatting of text when the inherent directionality of the text is insufficient to display expected results.) included with the text. However, if you include right-to-left control characters when you save a file, Word preserves right-to-left and left-to-right properties and preserves the order of neutral (neutral characters: Characters that do not have strong right-to-left or left-to-right language attributes. Numerals are an example of neutral characters.) characters.

ShowFile compatiblity with previous versions

Microsoft Word can open documents created in earlier versions of Word; however, in order to display right-to-left text correctly, the applicable right-to-left language must be enabled (enabled languages: Languages that can be added for text editing in Microsoft Office programs. These languages are in addition to the installed language version of the product, and provide additional features to work in a mixed-language environment.).

Working with right-to-left text

ShowFormatting text and paragraphs

You can do any of the following with right-to-left text:

ShowChanging document views or text direction

You can do any of the following:

  • Change the direction of text in a section.
  • Change the direction of text in a paragraph and set the paragraph alignment for horizontal and vertical text.
  • Change the column direction of text.
  • Change the table direction of text.
  • Have Microsoft Word display the vertical scroll bar at the left side of the document window and the ruler on the right side of the document window.

ShowUsing right-to-left spelling and grammar tools

  • Microsoft Word checks the spelling of right-to-left text the same way it does left-to-right text; you do not need to perform a separate spell checker routine for each language. In addition, you can set options for checking spelling in each right-to-left language.
  • Look up words in the Arabic or Hebrew thesaurus.

ShowWorking with columns

The default direction of a column is the direction of its section (section: A portion of a document in which you set certain page formatting options. You create a new section when you want to change such properties as line numbering, number of columns, or headers and footers.). You can further modify the information in a column to include right-to-left text in either right-to-left or left-to-right paragraph direction.

Newspaper-style columns are the standard columns in newspapers or magazines and are the only type supported by Microsoft Word when right-to-left features are enabled. Text from one column continues into the next. When the last column of a page is filled, the text continues to the first column of the next page. You can specify the width of each column separately.

In right-to-left sections, the column direction is also right to left, with a page's first column on the right side of the page and the last column on the left. For sections with left-to-right text, the direction is reversed.

ShowWorking with tables

In Microsoft Word, tables work as follows with right-to-left features:

  • The initial table direction is set according to the paragraph direction at the insertion point.
  • Rows in tables are either all right-to-left or left-to-right.
  • When inserting and deleting columns within a table, columns shift according to the table direction.
  • When converting text to a table, the table direction is set according to the paragraph direction of the selected text — for example, when you convert Arabic text to a table, the table direction will be right to left.
  • Borders and cell references are mirrored for right-to-left and left-to-right tables with the language and direction mirrored for each — for example, R1C1 (Row 1, Column 1) is at the top right for right-to-left tables and at the top left for left-to-right tables.

ShowFinding and replacing right-to-left characters

Microsoft Word provides several options that are specifically used for finding strings of text that contain right-to-left text. In addition, when finding and replacing text, you can match control characters, diacritics, alef hamza, kashida.

ShowUsing Click and Type

If you are working in a right-to-left document, Click and Type will follow the direction of your text, just as it does when you are working with left-to-right text.

ShowWorking with macros

When working with macros (macro: An action or a set of actions that you can use to automate tasks. Macros are recorded in the Visual Basic for Applications programming language.) in right-to-left text, be aware of the following:

ShowWorking with right-to-left numbers and dates

  • Choose a date format used in a particular language.
  • Choose the type of calendar used to calculate dates.
  • Specify the format for month names and numerals.
  • Add quotation marks to Hebrew numbers.
  • Change page numbering and number formats in right-to-left documents.

ShowSorting options

  • Sort a list or table according to the rules of another language.
  • When sorting text, set options for right-to-left text. For example, select Ignore alef lam or Ignore he to prevent Microsoft Word from sorting words starting with alef lam or he.

ShowSwitch the keyboard language

Applies to:
Word 2003