Internationalization Working Group Charter

The mission of the Internationalization Working Group is to enable universal access to the World Wide Web by proposing and coordinating the adoption by the W3C of techniques, conventions, technologies, and designs that enable and enhance the use of W3C technology and the Web worldwide, with and between various different languages, scripts, regions, and cultures.

Join the Internationalization Working Group.

Start date 1 October 2021
End date 30 September 2024
Charter extension See Change History.
Chairs Addison Phillips (W3C Invited Expert)
Team Contacts

Richard Ishida (0.55 FTE)

Fuqiao Xue (0.2 FTE)

Atsushi Shimono (0.4 FTE)

Bert Bos (0.05 FTE)

Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Weekly. Additional calls may be scheduled for specific tasks.
Face-to-face: we will meet during the W3C's annual Technical Plenary week; additional face-to-face meetings may be scheduled by consent of the participants, usually no more than 3 per year.



The formal documents produced by the Working Group are guidelines, best practices, requirements, and the like. These are best published as Working Group Notes.

The Working Group will not produce Rec-track specifications, but will maintain the following W3C Recommendations, should any changes be necessary:

Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) Version 1.0 and Version 2.0
These specifications define data categories and their implementation as a set of elements and attributes. ITS 2 adds additional concepts that are designed to foster the automated creation and processing of multilingual Web content.
Character Model for the World Wide Web 1.0: Fundamentals
It provides authors of specifications, software developers, and content developers with a common reference for interoperable text manipulation on the World Wide Web
Ruby Annotation
"Ruby" are short runs of text alongside the base text, typically used in East Asian documents to indicate pronunciation or to provide a short annotation. This specification defined an XHTML module for ruby markup.

Language enablement

The WG will work with, coordinate, and publish documents for various task forces within the Internationalization Interest Group, which produce document layout and related requirements for the Web Platform and Electronic Book technologies. The aim is to produce documents similar to the Japanese Layout Requirements and gap-analysis documents for a range of scripts and languages, and other sources of information for implementers and content developers. See a list of currently available information.

Currently this work is managed through 13 repositories, typically each focused on a group of languages, where experts can discuss issues and requirements for support of their language or writing system on the Web. These repositories currently contain 28 gap-analysis documents (some of which cover multiple languages), from which 100 gaps have been identified for the pipeline dashboard which will help us determine and prioritise what needs attention. During the upcoming charter, the Working Group will guide this work forward, creating new repositories and gap analysis documents as needed to accomodate additional languages as issues arise and experts are available.

Developer support

Horizontal review of specifications of other W3C Working Groups for issues related to internationalization, global usage, and cultural sensitivity is an essential deliverable of the Internationalization Working Group. During the past 2 years the Working Group has reviewed over 80 specifications, and has tracked around 400 issues.

This is not a time-bound activity and the exact schedule of these reviews depends on the progress of other Working Groups and the availability of resources in the Internationalization Working Group. There is usually a regular supply of review work to be done. The WG is doing its best to provide horizontal reviews as early as possible in the specification development process, rather than waiting for Last Call. Review work leads to the raising and tracking of issues related to a technology. Discussions related to these issues are often much more time-consuming than the review itself.

In addition to discussions arising from reviews, the Working Group is often called upon to support other Working Groups with adhoc advice and discussion.

The WG will also maintain checklists and guidance in written form for developers of specifications.

Author support

The WG will continue to publish resources on the Internationalization subsite to assist users of W3C and related Web technologies to internationalize their applications, content, and services. These will include articles, tutorials, notes and reference pages.

Over the past 2 years, the group has published 5 new articles, rewritten or significantly updated 6 more, and created and/or published 8 Working Drafts/WG Notes containing detailed technical advice. (This doesn't include documents published during the language enablement work.) The group expects to continue this work during the new charter and create additional materials. These educational materials benefit both specification developers and content authors, and the choice of topics is driven by the needs that arise during developer support or by significant developments related to international use of the Web.

The Working Group will also maintain the W3C Internationalization subsite, and develop and maintain ways for users of its resources to quickly find the material they need, through a variety of means, including topic-based and task-based indexing.

The WG will also provide internationalization-related best practices for users of Web technologies. These documents make the information available in a task based fashion, and are accessed by higher level web pages, targeted at specific user types and activities, that group together and link to all relevant information in summary form, with an organization that aids their use.

Internationalization tests

The WG will build on the existing foundation to create additional test pages and summaries of results for the support of internationalization-related features in major browsers. The tests will be made available to the Web Platform test suite, where appropriate. These tests explore support by user agents for internationalization related features, but also serve an educational role. In addition to their support for techniques documents and articles, these tests are being used by content authors and developers of gap-analysis information. In addition, other W3C WGs have incorporated these tests into their own test suites, and user agent development teams from all the major browsers have used these tests for identifying, fixing or enhancing internationalization features or bugs in their browsers.

Outreach activities

The WG will seek to regularly present knowledge developed by the WG at conferences and meetings where Web internationalization topics are relevant. It will also seek out key opportunities to present the internationalization message to content authors and implementers, and to encourage the provision of requirements for internationalization of W3C technologies by in-country experts.


WG deliverables are produced on an ongoing basis throughout the life of the charter, and the specific topics to be addressed by the working group and schedule information cannot be determined far in advance, but are driven by the needs and activities of the Web community.

Current work can be tracked using pages such as the following:

Success Criteria


For all specifications, this Working Group will seek horizontal review for accessibility, performance, privacy, and security with the relevant Working and Interest Groups, and with the TAG. Invitation for review must be issued during each major standards-track document transition, including FPWD. The Working Group is encouraged to engage collaboratively with the horizontal review groups throughout development of each specification. The Working Group is advised to seek a review at least 3 months before first entering CR and is encouraged to proactively notify the horizontal review groups when major changes occur in a specification following a review.

Additional technical coordination with the following Groups will be made, per the W3C Process Document.

W3C Groups

The Internationalization WG will work with any W3C Working Group to ensure that their deliverables support international use. It will, however, have a special relationship with the:

Internationalization Interest Group
The Internationalization WG maintains close contact with the Internationalization IG. The Internationalization IG mailing list is notified when resources produced by this WG are submitted to for review. Notifications are also sent to the IG lists when changes are made to issues in the GitHub repositories belonging to this group. The Internationalization IG mailing list will also be used for sharing teleconference minutes and information about the work of this WG, sending out information about the progress of this WG at regular intervals, and soliciting feedback in general. Members of this WG are expected to also become members of the Internationalization IG to assure a smooth flow of information. The WG will also work closely with the task forces in the purvey of the Interest Group to publish documents about layout and similar requirements.

External Organizations

The Working Group will work with the WHATWG to ensure that their specifications (such as HTML and Encoding) reflect the needs of the global community of users. This will involve reviewing and tracking specification work, and raising and discussing relevant issues.
IETF working groups and other IETF activities that define technology with impact on Web Internationalization, such as work related to language tags and URLs.
Unicode Technical Committee (UTC)
A liaison has been established. The Internationalization WG will review Unicode Consortium publications for Web-related internationalization features, where needed.
Ecma TC 39 (ECMAScript)
We will work with Ecma TC 39 on the development of the new EcmaScript Internationalization API Specification standard and the internationalization of the EcmaScript Language Specification (ECMA-262). The EcmaScript standard defines the core of the JavaScript programming language.
Supra-national and national standards bodies
The work of bodies such as ISO, ISO/IEC JTC1, JIS, and CEN, at the appropriate level (working group, subcommittee, technical committee,...), especially in so far as they work on general standards relevant to the internationalization of W3C technology or on national profiles of W3C specifications. Informal or formal contacts will be used as appropriate. The main groups, and corresponding areas for liaison, currently are:
  • ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2 (character encoding, sorting): A formal liaison has been approved to track the evolution of ISO/IEC 10646 and to input W3C requirements.
  • ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20 (characters in identifiers): A formal liaison has been approved to track developments and to input W3C requirements. The work program of this WG has recently been reduced considerably, and so this liaison may expire naturally.
  • ISO TC 37 and the language resources community in general (e.g.ELRA), since corpora exchange is key to the language technoloiges needed for the multilingual web, and there is strong trend emerging for language resource sharing to take a semantic web/ RDF based approach
The group follows developments in Universal Access that are being worked on by ICANN and related organizations.
Localization Industry Standards
The WG will work with the Localization industry, where needed, to ensure representation of the needs of these communities in the work of the WG.
Conference and publication organizers
The WG will maintain contacts with the major conference providers in the internationalization and localization fields.

From time to time, the work of the Internationalization Working Group will be dependent on developments in groups outside the W3C. For example, specifications at the Unicode Consortium, or work on IRIs or language tags at the IETF, etc.


To be successful, this Working Group is expected to have 5 or more active participants for its duration. The Chairs, specification Editors, and Test Leads are expected to contribute half of a working day per week towards the Working Group. There is no minimum requirement for other Participants.

The group encourages questions, comments and issues on its public mailing lists and document repositories, as described in Communication.

The group also welcomes non-Members to contribute technical submissions for consideration upon their agreement to the terms of the W3C Patent Policy.

Participants in the group are required (by the W3C Process) to follow the W3C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.


Technical discussions for this Working Group are conducted in public: the meeting minutes from teleconference and face-to-face meetings will be archived for public review, and technical discussions and issue tracking will be conducted in a manner that can be both read and written to by the general public. Working Drafts and Editor's Drafts of specifications will be developed in public repositories and may permit direct public contribution requests. The meetings themselves are not open to public participation, however.

Information about the group (including details about deliverables, issues, actions, status, participants, and meetings) will be available from the Internationalization Working Group home page.

This group primarily conducts its technical work using GitHub issues in a variety of GitHub repositories. Notifications of activity in those repositories and meeting minutes are sent to the public mailing lists of the Internationalization Interest Group, which can be both read and written to by list subscribers (the Interest Group).

The group may use a Member-confidential mailing list for administrative purposes and, at the discretion of the Chairs and members of the group, for member-only discussions in special cases when a participant requests such a discussion.

There is another mailing list,, which can be used for discussions within the group, where needed. This is a publicly archived list, writeable only by Group members. It is notified of changes to issues in the i18n-activity repo which we use to track review and other comments.

Decision Policy

This group will seek to make decisions through consensus and due process, per the W3C Process Document (section 3.3). Typically, an editor or other participant makes an initial proposal, which is then refined in discussion with members of the group and other reviewers, and consensus emerges with little formal voting being required.

However, if a decision is necessary for timely progress and consensus is not achieved after careful consideration of the range of views presented, the Chairs may call for a group vote and record a decision along with any objections.

To afford asynchronous decisions and organizational deliberation, any resolution (including publication decisions) taken in a face-to-face meeting or teleconference will be considered provisional. A call for consensus (CfC) will be issued for all resolutions (for example, via email, GitHub issue or web-based survey), with a response period from one week to 10 working days, depending on the chair's evaluation of the group consensus on the issue. If no objections are raised by the end of the response period, the resolution will be considered to have consensus as a resolution of the Working Group.

All decisions made by the group should be considered resolved unless and until new information becomes available or unless reopened at the discretion of the Chairs or the Director.

This charter is written in accordance with the W3C Process Document (Section 3.4, Votes) and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (Version of 15 September 2020). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Web specifications that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis. For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.


This Working Group will use the W3C Software and Document license for all its deliverables.

About this Charter

This charter has been created according to section 5.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Charter History

The following table lists details of all changes from the initial charter, per the W3C Process Document (section 5.2.3):

Charter Period Start Date End Date Changes
Initial Charter 1 January 1998 31 December 1998 -
Charter Extension 1 January 1999 28 February 2000 -
Charter Extension 1 March 2000 28 February 2001 -
Charter Extension 1 March 2001 31 August 2001 -
Charter Extension 1 September 2001 31 March 2002 -
Rechartered 5 September 2002 31 August 2004 -
Rechartered 7 January 2005 31 October 2006 -
Charter Extension 1 November 2006 31 December 2006 -
Rechartered 20 February 2007 31 January 2009 -
Charter Extension 27 January 2009 31 December 2009 -
Charter Extension 22 December 2009 31 December 2011 -
Rechartered 1 October 2012 31 December 2013 -
Charter Extension 1 January 2014 31 December 2015 -
Charter Extension 1 January 2016 31 March 2016 -
Rechartered 31 March 2016 31 March 2018 -
Charter Extension 1 April 2018 30 September 2018 -
Charter Extension 1 October 2018 31 December 2018 -
Charter Extension 1 January 2019 30 June 2019 -
Rechartered 1 July 2019 30 June 2021 Encoding specification removed from the list of deliverables.
Charter Extension 1 July 2021 30 September 2021 -
Rechartered 1 October 2021 30 September 2024 -

Change log

Changes to this document are documented in this section.

Addison Phillips re-appointed as group chair after affiliation change.