How to use Smartling to Translate Content

Translating right-to-left (RTL)

A right-to-left language (RTL) is written and read from right to left, top to bottom.

Localization for RTL languages requires some planning as spatial design changes are necessary for RTL translations. For more on this, see DTP and Bidirectional Script Support below.

Smartling supports the translation of the following right-to-left languages:

Language Locale ID
Arabic (International) ar
Arabic (United Arab Emirates) ar-AE
Arabic (Bahrain) ar-BH
Arabic (Djibouti) ar-DJ
Arabic (Algeria) ar-DZ
Arabic (Egypt) ar-EG
Arabic (Iraq) ar-IQ
Arabic (Jordan) ar-JO
Arabic (Kuwait) ar-KW
Arabic (Lebanon) ar-LB
Arabic (Libya) ar-LY
Arabic (Morocco) ar-MA
Arabic (Oman) ar-OM
Arabic (Qatar) ar-QA
Arabic (Saudi Arabia) ar-SA
Arabic (Sudan) ar-SD
Arabic (Syria) ar-SY
Arabic (Tunisia) ar-TN
Arabic (Yemen) ar-YE
Dari/Persian (Afghanistan) fa-AF
Persian (Iran) fa-IR
Hebrew (he) he
Hebrew he-IL
Hebrew (iw) iw
Kurdish (Sorani) RTL kd
Panjabi-Shahmuki (Pakistan) pk-PK
Pushto; Pashto ps
Uighur; Uyghur ug
Urdu ur
Urdu (India) ur-IN
Urdu (Pakistan) ur-PK
Yiddish yi
Yiddish (United States) yi-US


Viewing RTL in Smartling

RTL content is displayed in the Smartling Dashboard and CAT Tool in the same way as with any LTR language, however, the strings are displayed as expected, from right to left.

RTL in the Strings View


RTL in the CAT Tool


You can find RTL and LTR Unicode characters in the special character menu in the CAT Tool.

Translated RTL Files

For most source file types, RTL displays translations as expected, however if content is viewed through a web browser, it is important that the page contains a direction attribute dir="rtl", or dir="auto", to ensure correct alignment. If this direction attribute is missing, some browsers may still display the translations as RTL if the language code is in place, e.g.: lang="ar".

Source File Type Requirements  Considerations
Business Documents Displays RTL by default Post-translation production: DTP
Resource Files Displays RTL by default 
(assuming RTL is supported by the viewing application, e.g. a text editor)
Post-translation production: DTP
HTML dir attribute:
<html dir="auto"
<html dir="rtl"

Bidi Unicode Support

When you download a resource file with RTL translations, you may notice discrepancies in how the RTL language displays in Smartling vs a text editor, for example. Text editors such as TextMate, Notepad, may not show text direction properly. Here is an example HTML file you can use as a reference and to check the difference of how the language looks in a browser vs a text editor.

DTP (Desktop Publishing)

Some right-to-left characters may be wider or shorter than left-to-right characters, giving a different visual appearance. For high-touch documents, such as .ppt, .pdf, or InDesign files, post-translation production in the form of DTP should be considered as part of your translation process to ensure the design and layout of the content is of desired quality.

Bidirectional Script Support

It is important to note that while languages don’t have a direction, scripts do.
 Most RTL languages such as Arabic and Hebrew are bidirectional scripts, meaning they can contain both right-to-left and left-to-right within the same sentence. For example, if a Hebrew string contained both words and numbers, the words would be RTL and the numbers would be LTR.

Ensure Unicode Bidi (bidirectional script support) is enabled on any computer system where your translated content will live. Bidirectional script support means that both writing scripts with different directions (left-to-right and right-to-left) are supported, and all letters, numbers, formatting characters, special characters, paragraph and heading levels are displayed as expected.


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