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For the list: Nasrin sent me several replies privately listing some
discoveries and conclusions, but I suspect others can benefit from this
discussion, so I'm putting it back here. Documentation on this subject is
sparse, often outdated, addressed to one operating system without specifying
which one, and so forth.

I know for a fact that there are others on this list who are familiar with
and have accomplished what he is trying to do, so if we can get him squared
away, the documentation team will have some more fodder for their future
efforts. So, without further ado ...

Hi Nasrin:

Let's see if I can walk you through how to address your issue. Don't skip
these steps, since they will help establish a sort of baseline ...

Select the font you wish to use, and then go to the Insert | Special
Character ... dialog; scroll down through the Subset list at the top to see
if Arabic (for example) is listed. If not, try selecting a different font
until you locate one with the scripts you desire. Don't be terribly
surprised if none of your fonts have support for Arabic; that's an issue
that can be dealt with easily.

While LibreOffice does install a few fonts that contain the required glyphs
for Arabic and Persian, that is application dependent, and therefore subject
to change, so I would suggest that you locate and install some font that you
know is suitable: a version of the FreeFont family is good for testing,
since I know for a fact that it supports Arabic/Farsi/Persian characters
(not the Languages, mind you - I'll mention that later, since it's an
entirely different issue.) I'll use FreeSerif for this example.

In any case, select the FreeSerif font, and then use the Insert | Special
Character ... dialog again; scroll down to Arabic, and select a few
characters. Note that they SHOULD BE entered from right to left regardless
of whether you've set up any particular support in LibreOffice. If the
characters display properly, continue in Writer as follows (I am assuming
from what you've written that you have no input method enabled; if that's
wrong then I'm misunderstanding what you're asking):

Although highly impractical for regular use, type the following just as I've
shown (note that the [Alt]+[x] command works ONLY in newer versions of


What you should now see is: اللغة, a word I hope you recognize: note that
the characters are displayed in the reverse order of what you typed (i.e.
they are automagically set right to left). What you have just done is
entered the hexadecimal codes for each character and used [Alt+x] to change
the codes into their actual glyphs. If this doesn't work, post to the list;
this needs to be fixed before proceeding. For the record, this means typing
the 6 character, the 2 character, the 7 character, and then holding down the
Alt key while typing x.

You've now established that characters can be entered (using their hex
codes) and displayed properly in Writer, so long as you have a suitable font
available. You'll eventually want to settle on some fonts that you like, but
for now, continue with FreeSerif.

The next step is to find and activate a suitable IME (Input Method Editor);
I can't help you there as I don't use Windows, but perhaps someone else on
this list can recommend their favorite. Google is your friend.

What an IME does is probably best explained by describing how I would enter
the word above:

Assume that I'm writing in English and that I wish to type the next word in
Arabic: I would use my "Hot Key" (You set this up when installing the input
method) to switch my keyboard mapping to the next script in my list; in my
case, I have several scripts defined, so assume that I've used the hot key
one or more times to get to Arabic. No matter what input method you choose,
there will typically be an indicator somewhere on the screen that lets you
know which script your keyboard is set to.

Then I would simply type the following keys on my keyboard: hggym hguvfdi

That's it; this works because the first character ا is located on the
English [H] key (but lower case of course, since we didn't press the shift
key) - and so forth: this is, of course, tricky if you are not familiar with
touch typing and don't have additional markers on your key caps but, again,
all the IMEs I've used over the years have some sort of keyboard display
that you can use to cheat. There ARE keyboards available with multiple
character sets printed on the keys, but these tend to be quite expensive
and, if you want to use more than two scripts, you're just out of luck.
There also used to be some clear stickers available for certain scripts, but
the only ones I ever tried (for Thai, back in the late 1980s I'm afraid)
eventually peeled off and stuck in some places where they hurt more than

Now, for language support: Knowing how to type اللغة العربيط doesn't mean
that the words are spelled correctly, so you would need to install Writer's
spell checker for the Arabic or Farsi LANGUAGE (I don't know if there is a
thesaurus available for either, but that also might be useful to you - most
common languages I've used have pretty complete support in Writer, including
hyphenation rules and so forth - one of the languages I use is Thai, which
has no space between words, which requires some interesting technology to
insure that line breaks as well as hyphenation work well, which it generally
does, even with nothing special set up in Writer).

One thing you will also notice about the phrase I typed in the last
paragraph is that some of the actual characters change quite a bit depending
on which characters follow; if you speak or read Arabic or Farsi, you will
be familiar with the reasons that occurs -- pretty slick in my view. But
this is NOT a function of Writer; this is a function of modern font
technology; this will also work if you simply type into a text editor (or
command line prompt, although you will likely be given an error message when
you do that unless you've aliased some commands for convenience) - try it
with FreeSerif by going to a command prompt.

Writer is responsible for doing word processing sorts of things, such as
formatting and so forth. The only thing that Writer doesn't do for Arabic
scripts which it does for most other scripts is full justification - in the
case of Arabic scripts this would be Kashideh justification; in practice,
that isn't a huge drawback, but would be nice to see someday, as it would
indicate a new level of maturity in Office Suites.

Assuming all went well above, you've now established that you CAN type what
you want on your system. That leaves the problem of making it *convenient*,
and the definition of that depends a whole lot on how often you do it and so

If, after trying all the above, if there are other questions you have, post
them along with the specific languages you wish to deal with, the type of
keyboard you have (especially how the keys are labeled and so forth), the
operating system you're using (e.g. I think you said Windows, but which
version and so forth).

By the way, the reason Windows used to display your documents perfectly is
because you likely had the extended versions of Arial or something similar,
which had/has support for a much wider selection of characters than is
usually installed on a U.S. machine. But it is proprietary; if that doesn't
bother you, you can likely find the "bigger" versions to download.

I hope this gives you some avenues to explore ...


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