Can DITA tables support right-to-left (RTL) languages?

Yes, DITA tables can support right-to-left (RTL) languages. RTL language support ensures that the text and layout of tables are correctly aligned for languages like Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian.

Supporting RTL Languages in DITA Tables

Supporting RTL languages in DITA tables requires the use of appropriate elements, setting the text direction, and specifying the language.

Use Appropriate Elements

In DITA, elements like <table>, <tgroup>, <colspec>, <thead>, <tbody>, <row>, and <entry> can be used to structure tables. To support RTL languages, attributes like dir (direction) and xml:lang (language) must be used correctly within these elements.

Setting the Direction

The dir attribute is crucial for changing the text direction. For RTL languages, set dir=”rtl” to indicate right-to-left text flow. This attribute can be applied at different levels, such as on the <table>, <tgroup>, or even individual <entry> elements.

Language Specification

Use the xml:lang attribute to specify the language of the content within each element. This helps in proper rendering and processing of the text.


An English DITA table has been modified to support Arabic, an RTL language.

    <table dir="rtl">
      <caption>مقارنة المنتجات</caption>
        <col span="1" />
        <col span="1" />
        <col span="1" />
          <th scope="col">ميزة</th>
          <th scope="col">المنتج أ</th>
          <th scope="col">المنتج ب</th>
          <td>199 دولار</td>
          <td>249 دولار</td>

In this example, the dir=”rtl” attribute is applied to the <table> element to indicate that the text flows from right to left. Additionally, the xml:lang attribute is used to specify that Arabic is the language used in the content. This ensures that the table’s layout and text direction are correctly aligned for an RTL language.