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Chapter 5. Fonts > The Direction and Unicode-Bidi Properties

The Direction and Unicode-Bidi Properties

To make the World Wide Web truly worldwide, browsers must be able to display pages in many languages. Western languages – of which English is an example – are written from left to right. Other languages – for example, Hebrew and Arabic – are written from right to left. So far, so good. However, pages written in right-to-left (rtl) languages often include content written left-to-right (ltr). In Arabic, for example, numbers are written ltr just like in English and lines therefore contain both ltr and rtl content. This is called bi-directional content, or “bidi” for short. Bidi is a fascinating topic, that tends to interest people who are interested in fonts.

Two CSS properties give authors fine-grained control over bidi: direction and unicode-bidi. Web authors normally do not need to use them because characters are automatically placed in their normal direction. If, however, you need to make exceptions to the rules that govern bidi content, these properties are your solution. If this unlikely event occurs, we suggest you read the full definition of these properties in the CSS 2.1 specification. For reference purposes, we include the formal definition of the properties.


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