For right-to-left (RTL) languages, not only does the text alignment and text reading order go from right to left; UI elements should follow this natural direction of right to left. By default, edit controls inserted into a right-to-left document should inherit right-to-left behavior. Control handles and pull-down buttons should be mirrored on right-to-left documents.

In localized applications for right-to-left languages, menus and submenus are mirrored and appear on the right side of the application. The figure below shows the Outlook UI for Arabic, which is mostly a mirror of the LTR UI. For example, the menu starts from the right side of the screen instead of from the left.

How the User Interface for Arabic compares to English language

How the User Interface for Arabic compares to English language.

Exceptions to RTL Reading Order and Alignment

In general, all controls for right-to-left (RTL) languages (e.g., Arabic and Hebrew) are right-aligned and have a right-to-left reading order; if a scroll bar is required, it will appear on the left side of the control. However, some edit controls are left aligned and have a left-to-right (LTR) reading order—and the scroll bar for the control will appear on the right-side—since their content is in a non-RTL language or causes other issues when mirrored. These exceptions are:

  • File names and paths
  • Printer names and paths
  • IRI, URIs, URLs, and UNCs
  • Server and Domain names
  • Media controls