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Checklist: Right-To-Left Languages (RTL)

Right-to-left languages are written and read from right-to-left, and localization for billions of these native speakers is a must for any business intending to truly go global.

Localization for RTL languages should definitely be planned for in the early stages of product design and kept in mind that it involves more than just text translation. Spatial design changes are necessary when localizing for RTL languages (including navigation, visuals, general layout, numerics, etc).

Enabling Unicode Bidi (or bidirectional script support) should be on your to-do list at the very beginning of the product development process.

Bidi Unicode support

Bidirectional script support means that both writing scripts with different directions (left-to-right and right-to-left) are supported. Unicode’s bidirectional (or Bidi) support includes not just letters, but also numbers, formatting characters, special characters, paragraph and heading levels.

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Basic information about RTL languages

Script or writing systems of languages can have a different direction of writing, reading and interpreting. While languages such as English, German and Spanish have the left-to-right direction, others are written and read from right to left or in different variants of vertical writing.

There are 12 languages with RTL writing systems, and most prominent examples include:

1. Urdu - official language in Pakistan and India, more than 101 million speakers

2. Hebrew - official language in Israel, 9 million speakers

3. Arabic - official language in 26 countries, with 310 million speakers

Which are Right-to-Left Languages?

The 12 right-to-left languages are available in the list below.

Right-To-Left Languages
ISO Language CodeLanguage Name
arArabic
arcAramaic
dvDivehi
faPersian
haHausa
heHebrew
khwKhowar
ksKashmiri
kuKurdish
psPashto
urUrdu
yiYiddish

Related Best Practices

Further resources

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