The Complexities of Arabic Typesetting

Due to the complexity of Arabic typography, it is one of the most challenging tasks you will have to undertake. There are several differences between standard English typesetting and Arabic typesetting, so understanding and following the mechanics of Arabic typesetting can be difficult. To illustrate some of these differences, a well-known fact is that English text is read from left to right, whereas Arabic script is read from right to left. This explains a number of the differences between both languages. In order to make sure that Arabic text reflects this, it must be typeset accordingly. As a matter of fact, just to confuse things even further, numbers are always arranged from left to right!

Arabic Typesetting

Moreover, Arabic numerals can be written in two ways. There is ‘Western Arabic’, (also known as ‘Arabic numerals’) where the symbols are the same as in English, and there is ‘Eastern Arabic’ (also known as ‘Hindi numerals’) where the symbols take on a different form. The type of numbering format to use will depend on many factors, such as the purpose of the document, the audience that is being targeted, the demographics of the audience and so on. Whatever form the numbers are written in, however, they always run left to right.

A letter in Arabic takes on a different form according to whether it is isolated, whether it is at the beginning of a word, whether it is in the middle of a word or at the end of a word – and each combination of letters is unique in its own way. There is also a very distinct difference between the Arabic typeface and the English typeface. Cursive Arabic is characterized by the joining of individual words or groups of words in order to form a word.

Lastly, while it is possible to flip text, images cannot be flipped, since this can have an effect on the final design. In order to achieve the most successful resume, all the factors mentioned above must be taken into account when undertaking Arabic typesetting. Therefore, the complexity of Arabic typesetting cannot be overstated.

The potential and impact of successfully reaching a large, global Arabic audience has inspired people and companies to try to overcome the challenges presented by typesetting Arabic. The advent of updated technology, such as InDesign ME, has made it easier to handle the complexities and demands of Arabic typesetting projects. This is due to its ability to support a large range of scripts and other options.

Another development has been the introduction of Arabic fonts to match an existing English typeface, thereby allowing them to work in harmony. And new Arabic fonts are being produced all the time, allowing the typesetter to use them in conjunction with English and other language fonts.

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