Added to all the other advice already given, I'd also suggest that web typography be tailored for each language. How some of the tags render may need to be changed from language to language (not just font families, styles, weight, size and leading). Consider how the following tags should render: ol, ul, em, strong, cite.

Use of underlining on links may impact on some writing scripts.

On Windows many scripts do not have a monospaced font so be careful with styling pre, tt, textarea, input[type=”textarea”], option

using bold and italic text can be problematic since not all writing scripts on Windows come with italic, bold or bold italic faces.

Most of the hard word is actually in the admin/editorial interfaces, tracking language of articles. Allowing proper typographic and font display in editing environment, correct bidi behaviour in editing environment, buttons or mechanisms for marking up change of language (if you need to comply with WCAG 1.0) the ability to add dir attributes to elements in editing environment, etc.

Most CMS editing environments work well in monolingual environments, and may be well internationalised. But if you are adding content in multiple languages and writing scripts through a single editing environment more work may be needed to tweak the editing environment.

Andrew C

Andrew Harris wrote:
Hi all,
I've been asked to work on a multilingual website - including rtl scripts.
I've done bits and pieces before, but always other languages in
predominantly english websites.

Although I see the problems as mainly technical, I'm getting vibes
from others in the team about some mysterious 'cultural sensitivities'
that we'll have to consider as the audience in this case includes the
Islamic community. Perhaps foolishly, I had assumed that a sensibly
designed website, free of pr0n ads and political cartoons, would be
acceptable in most cultures, but maybe I'm just naive.

I'm asking for any gems of wisdom - links or first hand advice, mostly
technical, but anything that deals with the pitfalls in building
arabic websites would be great.

(I should point out the obvious one, we will be engaging native
speakers and expert editors - not simply relying on babelfish ;-)

Thanks in advance.

Andrew Cunningham
Research and Development Coordinator (Vicnet)
State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

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