Can DITA content be easily adapted for languages with complex scripts (e.g., Arabic, Chinese)?

Adapting DITA content for languages with complex scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese, and others, requires careful consideration and implementation. These languages often have unique characters, right-to-left (RTL) text direction, and complex formatting rules. Here’s how DITA can be used to facilitate the adaptation process:

Character Encoding and Fonts

One key aspect of adapting DITA content is ensuring the correct character encoding and fonts are used. DITA supports a variety of character encodings, including UTF-8, which is compatible with a wide range of scripts. When localizing DITA content for languages like Chinese, selecting the appropriate font families and configuring font rendering settings is crucial to ensure the characters are displayed correctly.

Text Direction and Bi-Directional Text

Languages like Arabic require RTL text direction. DITA allows you to specify the text direction at the document or element level. For languages with both RTL and LTR content, handling bi-directional text is important. DITA offers the tools to manage the bidirectional text, including proper nesting of text and the use of Unicode formatting characters like the Right-to-Left Override (RLO) and Left-to-Right Override (LRO) to control text direction within a paragraph.

Complex Script Styling

Many complex scripts have specific styling and formatting requirements. This includes character spacing, ligatures, and line-breaking rules. In DITA, organizations can define custom stylesheets to address these specific requirements, ensuring that the content is displayed correctly and consistently in languages with complex scripts. The use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can be particularly effective in managing these styling aspects.


Here’s an example of how DITA allows for specifying RTL text direction and character encoding:

<topic id="chinese_content" language="zh">
  <title>Chinese Localization</title>
  <font-family>SimSun, Arial</font-family>

In this example, the DITA topic is localized for Chinese, specifying left-to-right text direction, UTF-8 character encoding, and font families suitable for displaying Chinese characters.