World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts a stake in the ground for international writing modes

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Making the World Wide Web world wide
전세계의 월드 와이드 웹으로 만들기 — 10 December 2019 — The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced today that CSS Writing Modes Level 3 is now an official web standard, enabling text on the Web to be laid out horizontally or vertically, as well as setting the direction in which lines are stacked.

Today’s publication of CSS Writing Modes Level 3 as a W3C Recommendation marks an essential milestone in the journey started in 2004 when the CSS Working Group started work on text layout. "Thanks to incredible Internationalization work and the help of many Asian countries working together, we have reached the momentous point where CSS enables international writing modes on the Web.

Dr. Jun Murai, W3C Steering Committee Member and Professor of Keio University

CSS support of a wide range of written languages

CSS Writing Modes Level 3 is a specification that defines CSS support for various international writing modes, including horizontal left-to-right text (such as in English or Hindi), horizontal right-to-left text (such as Hebrew or Arabic), and vertically set text (such as for Japanese or Mongolian). It also specifies how to support combinations of the above, such as bidirectional mixtures of Arabic and English text, or English or Hebrew in vertically set Asian text.

These new CSS features allow a mixture of horizontal and vertical text regions on the same page. The specification also adds support for such things as isolation in bidirectional text, glyph orientation controls, and short, inline horizontal runs in lines of vertical text. Vertical text supports line stacking from right to left (as needed for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), as well as from left to right (as is needed for Mongolian).

Local experts and community impact the entire web platform

The publication of this Recommendation is a testament to the power of local communities to shape the Web so that it responds to their needs.

In addition to contributions from experts around the world, the engagement from local experts, particularly from Japan, and support from the local community was crucially important in researching, specifying and implementing the needed features. The involvement of local communities is essential to convince browser makers to expand their features, so that the World Wide Web is usable worldwide.

W3C is actively seeking feedback and support from communities around the world to meet local needs for language support. The language matrix captures an overview of where work is needed.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its full potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the globe. W3C well-known standards HTML and CSS are the foundational technologies upon which websites are built. W3C works on ensuring that all foundational Web technologies meet the needs of civil society, in areas such as accessibility, internationalization, security, and privacy. W3C also provides the standards that undergird the infrastructure for modern businesses leveraging the Web, in areas such as entertainment, communications, digital publishing, and financial services. That work is created in the open, provided for free and under the groundbreaking W3C Patent Policy. For its work to make online videos more accessible with captions and subtitles, W3C received a 2016 Emmy Award. And for its work to standardize a Full TV Experience on the Web, W3C received a 2019 Emmy Award.

W3C's vision for "One Web" brings together thousands of dedicated technologists representing more than 400 Member organizations and dozens of industry sectors. W3C is jointly hosted by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. For more information see

End Press Release

Media Contact

Amy van der Hiel, W3C Media Relations Coordinator <>
+1.617.253.5628 (US, Eastern Time)

Testimonials from W3C members

BPSJEPAKodanshaShueishaYahoo Japan Corporation


The Web is undoubtedly a global platform which interconnects information and people of various counties, as is also the reason why implementing more languages, and more importantly its culture, has become an increasingly important topic. As W3C member from Japan, as well as a software company developing web-based eBook solutions for the domestic audience, we are both proud and delighted to be involved with the Writing Modes specification especially for but not limited to, including vertical text and other native typographic features for users from Japan, Taiwan, and Mongolia. We look forward to the future in which the Writing Mode helps spread recognition and consideration of expressions from all languages on the World Wide Web.

Hiroshi Sakakibara, Board Director, BPS Co., Ltd.


During the dawn of the Japanese ebook business, the lack of vertical writing in the Open Web Platform was a serious hazard. Fortunately, CSS Writing Modes started at the last minute. Without the help of W3C, the Japanese e-book business could not have prospered.

MURATA Makoto, Then-leader of the internationalization subgroup of the IDPF EPUB WG, Japan Electronic Publishing Association CTO

日本の電子書籍ビジネスの黎明期において、OWPに縦書きがないことは深刻な障害でした。幸いなことに、ぎりぎりのタイミングでCSS Writing Modesが始まりました。W3Cの援助なしには、日本の電子書籍ビジネスの繁栄はあり得なかったのです。

村田 真、 IDPF EPUB WGの国際化サブグループの当時のリーダー 、一般社団法人 日本電子出版協会 CTO








講談社・社長室 標準化担当 W3C ACレッ プ 吉井順一



CSS Writing ModeがW3C勧告としてリリースされる事を大変嬉しく思います。長く議論されてきたこの技術によって、集英社が携わる多くの刊行物が、本来の表現を損なう事なくデジタルパブリッシングメディアとして機能する事と思います。




株式会社 集英社 デジタル事業部 鈴木 基


Yahoo Japan Corporation

Yahoo Japan Corporation welcomes W3C’s recommendation of Writing Modes Level 3. Vertical writing is part of Japanese traditional culture and the recommendation of this specification is big news for the Internet in Japan. We believe that this will allow us to enhance the usability of our services.

Writing Modes Level 3 is an excellent example of W3C’s activities that respect the cultures of each country and at the same time pursue increased usability. We are certain that these activities will continue in W3C, and that they will make people’s lives more convenient around the world.

Chiaki Fujimon, Director, EVP, Managing Corporate Officer, CTO, Yahoo Japan Corporation

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