About W3C Internationalization (i18n)

What is 'i18n'?

'i18n' is an industry standard abbreviation for 'internationalization' (because there are 18 letters between the 'i' and the 'n').


The mission of the W3C Internationalization activity is to ensure that W3C's formats and protocols are usable worldwide in all languages and in all writing systems.

Current work

See the Internationalization Working home page for a list of current work projects for the Internationalization Working Group. The next steps are tracked in the Project RADAR.

For details of upcoming and current review work, see the Review RADAR. Comments raised for current and past reviews can be found in the review list sorted by latest activity or the Github issue page.

There is also a list of all currently open issues raised against documents we are producing.

The page Layout & typography lists various initiatives aimed at documenting requirements for typography and text layout on the Web and in digital publications for languages other than English.

Contacting us

If you want to schedule a review, see our page about that.

If the question or comment relates to one of our articles or documents, please use the relevant github issues list. We much prefer using github issues rather than mailing lists.

If you want to alert us to a change or ask us a question about one of your documents that's in github, and if we have set up an i18n-tracking label in that repo, the best way to alert us is to add a comment to an issue (or create an issue if needed), and add the i18n-tracking label to it if it's not already there. We'll be notified. This approach is particularly useful since it keeps discussion threads linked to existing discussions and to appropriate repos.

(If you don't have an i18n-tracking label for your issues, contact ishida@w3.org and we'll set that up for you.)

Otherwise, if you have a technical question, it is best to write to www-international@w3.org. This is the mailing list of the Internationalization Interest Group, but it is also where the Working Group conducts its technical discussions, if it needs to do so on a mailing list.

Or if it's something else, try our member-18n-core@w3.org list.


W3C Internationalization tries to ensure universal access to the World Wide Web. The work takes place in the following groups:

  1. The Internationalization Working Group (home page) provides a wide range of advice and support for groups developing or using international aspects of the Web. It reviews specifications produced by other W3C Working Groups, looking for issues that would cause barriers to deployment and use of Web technologies due to language, script, region or culture, and discusses issues with those groups. It also produces its own documents and content. This includes requirements, guidelines and proposals for specification writers, as well as educational resources, checkers and outreach to help developers and content authors better understand and more widely implement the internationalization aspects of W3C technology. The group also develops tests for internationalization features on the Web, and produces summaries of their results.

    Join the group

    Useful GitHub repositories
    w3c/i18n-discuss A place to hold discussions on i18n topics, and to put documents that summarise, support or initiate those discussions.
    w3c/i18n-typography An index to information about typographic features for scripts around the world. Points to spec developers and implementers to requirements, tests, current issues, etc.
    w3c/bp-i18n-specdev Guidelines for spec developers, to help them address internationalization needs.
    w3c/i18n-activity Contains various administrative pages for the Working Group. The group uses this repo's issue list to track review comments – we don't expect others to raise issues in this repo.
  2. Internationalization Interest Group (home page) This is a public group supporting the activity of the Internationalization Working Group. Most of the technical discussion of the WG takes place in GitHub issues, or on the Interest Group mailing list. There are no teleconferences. To join, send a mail to www-international-request@w3.org with subscribe as the subject.

    We encourage use of the w3c/i18n-discuss issue list, rather than the www-international mailing list, for technical discussions or questions about internationalization topics. This provides access to the many advantages associated with using GitHub issues. The www-international list receives 2 daily digests of GitHub activity, one for open review comments, and the other for the i18n repos listed above. It also receives the i18n WG weekly teleconference minutes.

    Task forces can be set up within the Interest Group, to focus on a particular topic or deliverable. There are currently several task forces looking at typographic and layout requirements for various scripts. See this page for information about them, and related GitHub repos and mailiing lists.

  3. The ITS (Internationalization Tag Set) Interest Group (home page) aims to foster a community of users of the Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) by promoting its adoption and gathering information for its further development. ITS provides a set of concepts that can be mapped to markup and that make it easier to internationalize and localize documents. The Interest Group supported the MultlingualWeb-LT Working Group. There are also a set of Best Practices for XML Internationalization. The group works through a public list and wiki, and monthy teleconference calls.

    To join, send a mail to public-i18n-its-ig-request@w3.org with subscribe as the subject.

Community Groups

There are also some related Community Groups, such as the following. (New CGs can be started at any time, and this list may not be up to date. See the full list of CGs.) Note that these are not run under the Internationalization Activity. Anyone can join a CG – follow the links below for more information.

  1. Ontolex

  2. Sentiment

  3. LD4LT

  4. Chinese Digital Publishing

  5. Character Description Language

  6. Linked Data for Language Technology

  7. Best Practices for Multilingual Linked Open Data

  8. Mobile Web in Indian Languages

  9. Locations and Addresses

  10. Multilingual Web Sites

Former Groups

  1. The MLW-LT (MultilingualWeb Language Technology) Working Group defined the Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) 2.0. This delivers metadata for web content (mainly HTML5) and "deep Web" content (or example a CMS or XML file from which HTML pages are generated). The metadata facilitates interaction with multilingual technologies and localization processes. They also produced reference implementations. The group was closed on 17 January 2014, having successfully published the Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) 2.0 specification as a Recommendation. the Working Group has started discussing ITS 2.0 best practices topics within the Internationalization Tag Set Interest Group. This is an open forum aiming to generate discussion around future possible work in this area. To participate contribute to the ITS IG wiki and the ITS IG mailling list. [Home page] [Charter]

  2. The Japanese Layout Task Force created a document about requirements for general Japanese layout realized with technologies like CSS, SVG and XSL-FO and eBooks. The group worked internally in Japanese. The document was mainly based on a standard for Japanese layout, JIS X 4051, however, it also addresses areas which are not covered by JIS X 4051. The group is no longer active, however many of the participants still subscribe to the public-i18n-cjk mailing list. [Home page]

  3. The Internationalization GEO Working Group worked to make the internationalization aspects of W3C technology better understood and more widely and consistently used through guidelines, education and outreach. This WG was closed when the work was merged into that of the Internationalization Working Group in 2007. [Home page] [Charter]


The Internationalization Activity welcomes the participation of individuals and organizations around the world to help improve the appropriateness of the Web for multiple cultures, scripts and languages.

Joining a Working Group, Interest Group or Task Force:

Other ways to contribute:

Benefits of participation:

Participation can benefit the participant and his or her organization in the following ways.

  • Significantly develop your understanding of how W3C technologies are used in a global Web and bring that knowledge back to your organization.
  • Review the state of the art in a range of Web technologies and develop understanding of key internationalization issues by reviewing specifications.
  • Raise your profile and that of your organization by developing best practices, and education and outreach materials.
  • Contribute your and your organization's ideas and needs for the development of new specifications.
  • Discuss and explore ideas alongside other leaders in the field.
  • Gain exposure to internationalization issues in a wide range of technologies.
  • Lay claim to contributing directly to making the World Wide Web more worldwide.

The groups need people with a wide range of skills, from technical authoring to specialised knowledge of particular technologies.