Language enablement

The W3C needs to make sure that the the world's text layout and typographic needs of scripts and languages are built in to technologies such as HTML, CSS, SVG, etc. so that Web pages and eBooks can look and behave as people expect around the world.

To that end we have experts in various parts of the world explaining requirements, and also documenting gaps between what is needed and what is currently supported in browsers and ebook readers.

To make the work more effective we developed a framework for documents and procedures that can be applied to all the languages we are investigating. For an overview of this framework, see Analysing support for text layout on the Web.

To support local relevance of Web pages and eBook formats we need more local experts to participate in gathering information in these task forces, to review the task force outputs, and to lobby or support via coding the implementation of features in browsers and ereaders. If you are one of these people, or know some, please get in touch! For more information about how to get involved, see Get involved with Language Enablement.

General resources

These resources help you find information that we have gathered so far related to requirements and gaps for specific languages and writing systems. The headings link to the resource being described.

Language Matrix

The Language Matrix is a heat-map that shows where people around the world have problems when using their native language and writing system. Links from the matrix lead to more detailed gap analysis information for that language.

The set of languages listed in the matrix was initially based on speaker populations or features of special interest. We are interested in expanding the list wherever we have experts who are willing to contribute the necessary information.

Language Enablement Index

The Language Enablement Index points browser implementers and specification developers to information about how to support typographic features of scripts or writing systems from around the world, and also points to relevant information in specifications, to tests, and to useful articles and papers. It is not exhaustive, and will be added to constantly. In addition, it points to other articles and documents that can help understand how typography and layout works in non-Latin scripts.

Gap-analysis pipeline

The Gap-analysis pipeline is a dashboard used to identify critical missing pieces of the internationalized Web and track support for filling those gaps. A card is added for each gap raised during the language enablement work. The columns in the pipeline indicate next steps, and cards are labelled so that they can be filtered in various ways.

Type samples

The Type samples repository contains samples of typographic features which can be used for reference or for examples. You can contribute samples via the GitHub issues interface.

Layout issue tracker

While specifications are being developed, questions arise about whether a feature works well for all languages, or whether perhaps additional requirements need to be taken into account.

The Language enablement issue tracker points you to questions for which we are still trying to find answers. It also points you to discussions currently under way that affect support for a particular language or group of languages, and what browser bug submissions we are tracking.

The data can be filtered to show results for a specific language or group of languages.

Repositories & task forces

The documents and discussions that generate the language enablement information are based on a set of GitHub repositories. In many cases, the repository is associated with a task force that brings together experts who move the work forward on a regular basis.

It's possible to follow the developments in these repositories by joining the relevant mailing list. You will receive a maximum of one email a day, per repo, that points to new issues or comments. You can also get more involved with the work in a variety of ways: see Layout task force roles for more information.

For information about the available documents, and how to participate or follow the work, visit the following pages and scroll down to the README text,

In these repositories you will find discussions related to the languages in question (in the GitHub issue lists). You'll also find out how participate, or if you just want to follow, how to sign up for notifications for that repository. These notifications not only let you know when a discussion is taking place in that repository, but also alert you to activity in the issue lists of other W3C Working Groups (such as CSS, or HTML) that are relevant to this repo.


An important part of the gap-analysis work involves developing tests to show what browsers and e-book readers actually do.

The Internationalization Activity has tests for internationalization features that not only look at whether specs are supported in user agents, but also explore how browsers and other user agents handle regional requirements for language support.

There are two main sets of tests. The i18n test suite conforms to the Web Platform Tests approach, and most of those tests are ported to the WPT repository.

There is also a set of test rigs that can be used in an interactive way to rapidly set up and share tests that explore user-agent support for language-related and spec features; these are particularly useful to support gap-analysis during the language enablement work.

Other resources

Ready-made Counter Styles provides code snippets for user-defined counter styles used by various cultures around the world, and can be used as a reference for those wishing to create their own user-defined counter styles for CSS style sheets. We welcome contributions of additional counter styles, as long as there is good evidence for their use in printed or online material.

Sponsorship program

The W3C is running a sponsorship program to accelerate progress in this area, supplementing the core funding it receives from W3C Member fees so that it can increase in-house resources dedicated to this work.

We are very grateful to the sponsors who have helped so far, but are always looking for additional sponsors. The more sponsorship we have, the more work we can get done. If you are able to help, please see the sponsorship program overview, and contact us.