Layout & typography

The W3C needs to make sure that the text layout and typographic needs of scripts and languages around the world 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 documenting layout and typographic requirements, and gaps between what is needed and what is currently supported in browsers and ebook readers.

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!

Layout requirements documents

These documents are being developed by task forces composed largely of users of a given script, and often by groups working in a language written in that script. The aim of these requirements documents is to describe how the script works, and the conventions for its use to represent native content. These documents do not describe solutions or gaps for a particular technology – that is done elsewhere. In this way the documents remain fully relevant for a wide range of technologies.

  1. Requirements for Japanese Text Layout (日本語組版処理の要件) was the flagship in the development of requirements describing script use and layout. The information in this document has been widely used, and the process used for creating it was extremely effective. It was developed in Japan, by a task force using mailing lists and holding meetings in japanese, then converted to english for review. It was published in both languages. The Japanese Layout Task Force is no longer active, although the authors are still present on i18n Activity mailing lists. [group home page]

  2. Requirements for Hangul Text Layout and Typography (한국어 텍스트 레이아웃 및 타이포그래피를 위한 요구사항) provides requirements for handling the main Korean script. This document was developed by a group in Korea. [github]

  3. Requirements for Chinese Text Layout (中文排版需求) follows the lead of the Japanese and Korean documents. The document describes the needs of both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. It is hoped that this work will lead to similar documents about the Mongolian and Tibetan (see below) scripts, as well as the Arabic script as used for Uighur. [github] [group home page]

  4. Indic Layout Requirements sets out to document the requirements of the major scripts in India. Currently coverage is limited to Devanagari (used for languages such as Hindi and Marathi), but material should soon be available for Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu scripts. [github] [group home page]

  5. Requirements for Tibetan Text Layout and Typography is still in the planning stage, and we are looking for experts to contribute to the work of developing the document. The Tibetan document is being developed by the Chinese Layout Task Force, since they have a strong interest in realising Tibetan requirements, but participation should reflect the needs of all communities using the Tibetan script. [github] [group home page]

  6. Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination are being developed by the Digital Publishing Interest Group. They aim to represent the requirements of the many languages using the Latin script. [github] [group home page]

  7. Arabic Layout Requirements will hopefully be available soon. We are in the process of setting up the group and recruiting participants. Many languages are written using the Arabic script. The initial focus of the document will be for writing Standard Arabic and Persian. [github] [group home page]

  8. Ethiopic Layout Requirements will also hopefully become available soon. We are in the process of setting up the group and recruiting participants. The initial focus of the document will be for writing Amharic and Tigrinya. [github] [group home page]

Other documents

This next list contains pointers to documents that typically address a more specific set of requirements for the use of a particular script or language on the Web and in digital publications.

  1. Custom Counter Styles for International Content 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. [github]

  2. Additional Requirements for Bidi in HTML & CSS documents work done to improve handling of bidirectional content in Arabic, Hebrew, Thaana, and other predominantly right-to-left scripts. The document lists the problems, proposes solutions, and documents the outcome in HTML5 and the CSS Level 3 specifications. Contributors included people from around the world who struggled with these issues.

  3. Arabic mathematical notation analyzes potential problems with the use of MathML for the presentation of mathematics in the notations customarily used with Arabic, and related languages. The goal is to clarify avoidable implementation details that hinder such presentation, as well as to uncover genuine limitations in the specification. [group home page]

  4. Notes on Mongolian variant forms is not a work item of the W3C, but is being used to facilitate a discussion on a W3C mailing list about which shapes should be produced by fonts for Mongolian characters. Most letters have at least one isolated, initial, medial and final shape, but other shapes are produced by contextual factors, such as vowel harmony, and this work supports a movement to standardise those shapes. This standardisation is essential to support use of the Mongolian script on the Web. [archive]

The typography index

The page Improving text layout and typography on the Web and in eBooks serves as an index into the information provided in the above documents. In addition, it points to other articles and documents that can help understand how typography and layout works in non-Latin scripts.

It aims to help browser implementers and specification developers understand how to meet the needs of local markets in terms of typography and layout.


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Last changed 2015-07-20 14:02 GMT.