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Arabic Style Guide

Contents
What's New? .................................................................................................................................... 4
New Topics ................................................................................................................................... 4
Updated Topics ............................................................................................................................ 4
Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 5
About This Style Guide ................................................................................................................ 5
Scope of This Document .............................................................................................................. 5
Style Guide Conventions .............................................................................................................. 5
Sample Text ................................................................................................................................. 6
Recommended Reference Material ............................................................................................. 6
Normative References .............................................................................................................. 6
Informative References ............................................................................................................. 6
Language Specific Conventions ...................................................................................................... 7
Country/Region Standards ........................................................................................................... 7
Characters ................................................................................................................................ 7
Date .......................................................................................................................................... 7
Time .......................................................................................................................................... 9
Numbers ................................................................................................................................. 12
Sorting ..................................................................................................................................... 26
Geopolitical Concerns ................................................................................................................ 27
Grammar, Syntax & Orthographic Conventions ......................................................................... 27
Adjectives ................................................................................................................................ 27
Articles .................................................................................................................................... 28
Capitalization .......................................................................................................................... 28
Compounds............................................................................................................................. 28
Gender .................................................................................................................................... 28
Genitive ................................................................................................................................... 29
Modifiers ................................................................................................................................. 29
Nouns ...................................................................................................................................... 30
Prepositions ............................................................................................................................ 30
Pronouns ................................................................................................................................. 30
Punctuation ............................................................................................................................. 30
Singular & Plural ..................................................................................................................... 31
Split Infinitive ........................................................................................................................... 31
Subjunctive ............................................................................................................................. 31
Symbols & Non-Breaking Spaces........................................................................................... 31
Syntax ..................................................................................................................................... 32
Verbs ....................................................................................................................................... 32
Word Order ............................................................................................................................. 32
Style and Tone Considerations .................................................................................................. 32
Audience ................................................................................................................................. 32

Style ........................................................................................................................................ 33
Tone ........................................................................................................................................ 33
Voice ....................................................................................................................................... 33
Localization Guidelines .................................................................................................................. 34
General Considerations ............................................................................................................. 34
Abbreviations .......................................................................................................................... 34
Accessibility ............................................................................................................................ 35
Acronyms ................................................................................................................................ 35
Applications, Products, and Features ..................................................................................... 36
Frequent Errors ....................................................................................................................... 36
Glossaries ............................................................................................................................... 37
Fictitious Information ............................................................................................................... 38
Recurring Patterns .................................................................................................................. 38
Standardized Translations ...................................................................................................... 38
Unlocalized Items.................................................................................................................... 38
Using the Word Microsoft ....................................................................................................... 38
Software Considerations ............................................................................................................ 38
User Interface ......................................................................................................................... 39
Messages ................................................................................................................................ 41
Keys ........................................................................................................................................ 45
Document Translation Considerations ....................................................................................... 50
Titles ....................................................................................................................................... 50
Copyright ................................................................................................................................. 50

What's New?
Last Updated: February 2011

New Topics
The following topics were added:

Sample Text

Country/Region Standards

Geopolitical Concerns
Style and Tone Considerations
Frequent Errors
Recurring Patterns

Updated Topics
The overall Style Guide content was fully updated in February 2011 as part of major Style Guide update project
performed for all languages.

Introduction
This Style Guide went through major revision in February 2011 in order to remove outdated and unnecessary
content.

About This Style Guide


The purpose of this Style Guide is to provide everybody involved in the localization of Arabic Microsoft products
with Microsoft-specific linguistic guidelines and standard conventions that differ from or are more prescriptive than
those found in language reference materials. These conventions have been adopted after considering context
based on various needs, but above all, they are easy to follow and applicable for all types of software to be
localized.
The Style Guide covers the areas of formatting and grammatical conventions. It also presents the reader with a
general idea of the reasoning behind the conventions. The present Style Guide is a revision of our previous Style
Guide version with the intention of making it more standardized, more structured, and easier to use as a
reference.
The guidelines and conventions presented in this Style Guide are intended to help you localize Microsoft products
and materials. We welcome your feedback, questions and concerns regarding the Style Guide. You can send us
your feedback via the Microsoft Language Portal feedback page.

Scope of This Document


This Style Guide is intended for the localization professional working on Microsoft products. It is not intended to
be a comprehensive coverage of all localization practices, but to highlight areas where Microsoft has preference
or deviates from standard practices for Arabic localization.

Style Guide Conventions


In this document, a plus sign (+) before a translation example means that this is the recommended correct
translation. A minus sign (-) is used for incorrect translation examples.
In Microsoft localization context, the word term is used in a slightly untraditional sense, meaning the same as e.g.
a segment in Trados. The distinguishing feature of a term here is that it is translated as one unit; it may be a
traditional term (as used in terminology), a phrase, a sentence, or a paragraph.
References to interface elements really only refer to translatable texts associated with those interface elements.
Example translations in this document are only intended to illustrate the point in question. They are not a source
of approved terminology. Always check for approved translation in the Microsoft terminology database.

Sample Text

. . ""
" " .

(
.
) . .
.
.

.

.
/
15


xxxxx :
(####) ### ## ## #### :
8 2011

Recommended Reference Material


Use the Modern Standard Arabic language that could be fully understood by all Arab countries.

Normative References
N/A

Informative References
These sources are meant to provide supplementary information, background, comparison, etc.
1. MSDN Site: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/ar-sa/default.aspx
2. TechNet Site: http://technet.microsoft.com/ar-sa/default.aspx

Language Specific Conventions


This part of the style guide contains information about standards specific to Arabic.

Country/Region Standards
Characters
Country/region

Arab Region

Lower-case characters

N/A

Upper-case characters

N/A

Characters in caseless
scripts

Extended Latin characters

N/A

Note on alphabetical order

Alphabetical order is not necessarily indicative of sorting order.

Total number of characters

28
Range: U+060x - U+06Fx

Unicode codes

The alphabetical order is different than the alphabet, although both can be used.
The alphabetical order is:
Notes

Date
Country/region

Arab Region

Calendar/Era

Hijri and Gregorian calendars

First Day of the Week

Saturday

First Week of the Year

N/A

Separator

Default Short Date


Format

yyyy/m/d

Country/region

Arab Region

Example

2011/3/7

Default Long Date Format yyyy mmmm dd


2011 17

Example
Additional Short Date
Format 1

N/A

Example

N/A

Additional Short Date


Format 2

N/A

Example

N/A

Additional Long Date


Format 1

N/A

Example

N/A

Additional Long Date


Format 2

N/A

Example

N/A

Leading Zero in Day Field


for Short Date Format

No

Leading Zero in Month


Field for Short Date
Format

No

No. of digits for century


for Short Day Format

Leading Zero in Day Field


for Long Date Format

No

Leading Zero in Month


Field for Long Date
Format

No

Number of digits for


century for Long Day
Format

Date Format for


Correspondence

Hijri and Gregorian have the same format

Country/region

Arab Region
Hijri 1432 17

Example
Notes

N/A
d is for day, number of d's indicates the format (d = digits without leading zero, dd =
digits with leading zero, ddd = the abbreviated day name, dddd = full day name)

Abbreviations in Format
Codes

M is for month, number of M's gives number of digits. (M = digits without leading
zero, MM = digits with leading zero, MMM = the abbreviated name, MMMM = full
name)
y is for year, number of y's gives number of digits (yy = two digits, yyyy = four digits)

Time
Country/region

Arab Region

24 hour format

Yes, but 24 hour format is mostly used in airports or another international places.

Standard time format

HH:mm:ss

Standard time format


example
Time separator

23:43:12
colon (:)
11:43:12

Time separator examples


Hours leading zero

yes

Hours leading zero example

08:04:05

String for AM designator

String for PM designator

Notes

The standard time can be used in 24 hour or 12 hour format.

Days
Country/region: Algeria; Bahrain; Egypt; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Oman; Qatar; Saudi
Arabia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Day

Normal Form

Abbreviation

Monday

Tuesday

Day

Normal Form

Abbreviation

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

First Day of Week: Saturday


Is first letter capitalized?: N/A
Notes: Abbreviated forms are rarely used.

Months
Country/region: Algeria; Bahrain; Egypt; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Oman; Qatar; Saudi
Arabia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Month

Full Form

Abbreviated Form

Long Date Form

January

N/A

N/A

February

N/A

N/A

March

N/A

N/A

April

N/A

N/A

May

N/A

N/A

June

N/A

N/A

July

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

September

N/A

N/A

October

N/A

N/A

November

N/A

N/A

December

N/A

N/A

August

Is first letter capitalized?: N/A


Notes: The Gregorian calendar that is mainly used in Syria and Lebanon

10

Month

Full Form

Abbreviated Form

Long Date Form

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

April

N/A

N/A

May

N/A

N/A

June

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

October

N/A

N/A

November

N/A

N/A

December

N/A

N/A

January
February
March

July
August
September

Arabic Hejri calendar

Month

Full Form

Abbreviated Form

Long Date Form

January

N/A

N/A

February

N/A

N/A

March

N/A

N/A

April

N/A

N/A

May

N/A

N/A

June

N/A

N/A

July

N/A

N/A

August

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

November

N/A

N/A

December

N/A

N/A

September
October

11

Note: Number of days of the Hejri months and year is different from the Gregorian calendar as the Hejri calendar
is based on cycles of lunar phase. So, the calendar ceases to be linked to the Gregorian seasons and months,
and drifts each solar year by 11 to 12 days, and comes back to the position it had in relation to the solar year
approximately every 33 Hejri years.

Numbers
The following table details the rules that apply to the use of numbers:
Number element

Arabic Equivalent

List Separator

Decimal Separator

Thousand Separator

See the comment below*

Date Separator

Time Separator

In page numbering, when roman numbers are used in a section of the English documentation, the localizer must
use the Arabic alphabet as equivalent in the translated documentation.
* Please note that the Thousand Separators are not used in Arabic most of the times.

Phone Numbers
Sample Country
Country/
region

International
Dialing
Code

Area
Codes
Used?

Number of
Digits Area
Codes

Separator

Number of
Digits
Domestic

Digit
Groupings
Domestic

Egypt

20

yes

space or
hyphen

10 ,11 or 12

(###) ### ## ##
## or (###) ###
## ## # or (###)
### ## ##

Country/
region

Number of
Digits
Local

Digit
Groupings
Local

Number of
Digits Mobile

Digit
Groupings
Mobile

Number of
Digits
International

Digit
Groupings
International

Egypt

7 ,8 or 9

### ## ##
## or ###
## ## # or
### ## ##

(###) ###
### ##

13, 14 or 15

(####) ### ##
## #### or
(####) ### ##
## ### or (####)
### ## ####
12

Notes: N/A

Addresses
Country/region: Algeria; Bahrain; Egypt; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Oman; Qatar; Saudi
Arabia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Disclaimer: Please note that the information in this entry should under no circumstances be used in examples as
fictitious information.
Address Format:
1. [Title/Honorific] FirstName LastName
2. [CompanyName]
3. Address1
4. [Address2]
5. City, PostalCode
6. [Country]
Example Address:
/


xxxxx

Local Postal Code Format: xxxxx
Notes: N/A

Currency
Country/region

Algeria

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

..

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits.

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

.
13

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

DZA

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Bahrain

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

..

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

.. 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

.. 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

.. 3,243

Negative Currency Example

.. 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

BHR

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

14

Country/region

Egypt

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

EGY

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Iraq

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

15

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

IRQ

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Jordan

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

JOR

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

16

Country/region

Kuwait

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

KWT

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Lebanon

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

17

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

LBN

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Libya

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

.. 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

.. 3 -

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

.. 3,243

Negative Currency Example

.. 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

LBY

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

..

Currency Subunit Example

25

18

Country/region

Morocco

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

MAR

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Oman

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

19

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

OMN

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Qatar

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

.. 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

QAT

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

20

Country/region

Saudi Arabia

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

SAU

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Sudan

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

21

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. .3,324

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

SDG

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

. .

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Syria

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

.. 3,243

Negative Currency Example

.. 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

SYR

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

. .

Currency Subunit Example

25

22

Country/region

Tunisia

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

TUN

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

UAE

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

23

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

ARE

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

Country/region

Yemen

Currency Name

Currency Symbol

. .

Currency Symbol Position

Left side of the digits

Positive Currency Format

. . 3

Negative Sign Symbol

Negative Currency Format

. . 3-

Decimal Symbol

Number of Digits after Decimal

Digit Grouping Symbol

Number of Digits in Digit


Grouping

Positive Currency Example

. . 3,243

Negative Currency Example

. . 3,243 -

ISO Currency Code

YEM

Currency Subunit Name

Currency Subunit Symbol

Currency Subunit Example

25

24

Digit Groups
Country/region: Arab Region
Decimal Separator: Comma (,)
Decimal Separator Description: Comma
Decimal Separator Example: 1,5
Thousand Separator: N/A
Thousand Separator: N/A
Thousand Separator Example: N/A
Notes: The comma might be used as thousand separator

Measurement Units
Metric System Commonly Used?: Yes
Temperature: Celsius
Category

English

Translation

Abbreviation

Linear Measure

Kilometer

Meter

Decimeter

Centimeter

Millimeter

Hectoliter

Liter

Deciliter

Centiliter

Milliliter

Ton

Kilogram

Pound

Gram

Decigram

Centigram

Capacity

Mass

25

Category

English Units of
Measurement

English

Translation

Abbreviation

Milligram

Inch

N/A

Feet

N/A

Mile

N/A

Gallon

N/A

Notes: N/A

Percentages
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Sorting

Sorting rules

1. There are no capital rules in Arabic


2. The order of vowels is: unaccented, long, umlaut, or dot.
3. hamza does not sort. It sorts according to its "seat" .
4. Alphabetical order is not necessarily indicative of sorting order .
5. The alphabetical order is different than the alphabet, although both can be used .
6. Digits sort after the non-alphabetical characters and before the letters of the alphabet.
7. The alphabetical order is:

Examples of
sorted words

26

Geopolitical Concerns
Part of the cultural adaptation of the US-product to a specific market is the resolving of geopolitical issues. While
the US-product should have been designed and developed with neutrality and a global audience in mind, the
localized product should respond to the particular situation that applies within the target country/region.
Sensitive issues or issues that might potentially be offensive to the users in the target country/region may occur in
any of the following:

Maps
Flags
Country/region, city and language names
Art and graphics
Cultural content, such as encyclopedia content and other text where historical or political references may
occur

Some of these issues are relatively easy to verify and resolve: the objective should be for the localizer to always
have the most current information available. Maps and other graphic representations of countries/regions and
regions should be checked for accuracy and existing political restrictions. Country/region, city and language
names change on a regular basis and need to be checked, even if previously approved.
A thorough understanding of the culture of the target market is required for checking the appropriateness of
cultural content, clip art and other visual representations of religious symbols, body and hand gestures.

Grammar, Syntax & Orthographic Conventions


This section includes information on how to apply the general rules of the Arabic language to Microsoft products
and documentation.

Adjectives
Unlike English, in Arabic, adjectives should follow the number form of the modified.
Possessive adjectives
The frequent use of possessives is a feature of English language. However in Arabic, possessive adjectives
should be handled differently, where pronouns should be avoided.

Source

Correct

wrong

My folders

Comment

27

Articles
General considerations
The definite article should follow the source.
Unlocalized Feature Names
Microsoft product names and non-translated feature names are used without definite or indefinite articles in the
English language. We treat them in this same way in Arabic.
Example:
Microsoft Office
Localized Feature Names
Translated feature names should be highlighted using double or single quotes, especially if it comes within other
text.
Example:
""
Articles for English Borrowed Terms
When faced with an English loan word previously used in Microsoft products, consider the following options:

Motivation: Does the English word have any formally motivated features that would allow a
straightforward integration into the noun class system of Arabic language?
Analogy: Is there an equivalent Arabic term whose article could be used?
Frequency: Is the term used in other technical documentation? If so, what article is used most often?

The internet may be a helpful reference here.

Capitalization
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Compounds
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Gender
Transliterated words and English names need to be given a gender in Arabic. For example: the Mouse as it is
called in Arabic, you might wonder: shall I say or ?
28

As there is no real rule to this except that we tend to return to the unwritten word that indicates what the function
of the word is, here are some examples to guide you:
RAM

RAM

Feminine gender

RAM
Windows

Windows

Masculine gender

Windows
Mouse

Masculine gender

Due to the absence of an equivalent to it as a gender in Arabic, when the user points on an icon (which has the
feminine gender in Arabic) or on a button (which has the masculine gender in Arabic), a messages that says:
Displays full pages as they will be printed would leave you to wonder whether to say or .
Therefore, and because we always seek a more direct and short way to translate these messages, we have opted
for the use of the verbal noun.

Genitive
Genitive Construction: when there English word between the governed and governing word. It is looks better to
place the English after the Arabic ones. Like:
Incorrect

correct
Excel

Excel

Class Genitive Constructs : These differ in structure between English and Arabic. English uses a
prepositioned singular form of the class word, while Arabic uses a postpositioned plural form of the same. Thus
Field Area becomes and not "" . Singular is used in Arabic genitive construct when the
genitive complement ( ) is a function word, hence Break area becomes , and Add Print
Wizard should be
Genitive Conjunctive Constructs "" : This is a very common Anglicism in translation. In Arabic,
the genitive complement is linked solely to its antecedent regardless of conjunctions. Two Arabic genitive
complements, the second of which is a pronoun, are needed as equivalents to an English one, i.e. the correct
translation of Creating and Sending Reports would be and not .

Modifiers
This section does not apply to Arabic.

29

Nouns
General considerations
This section does not apply to Arabic.
Inflection
This section does not apply to Arabic.
Plural Formation
English plural is the equivalent of both the Arabic plural ( )and the Arabic dual (). A proper contextualization
is needed for translating the occurrences of English plural.
Example: Spin Arrows are rather and not .

Prepositions
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Pronouns
Avoid using the second person pronoun.
Example:
Source

Correct

wrong

My folders

Comment

Punctuation
General punctuation rules are available in the recommended reference material
Comma
Spacing: No space before. Space after.
Colon
Spacing: No space before. Space after.

Dashes and Hyphens


Its preferable to use the Kashida character which resides on the shifted J key in Arabic instead of the normal
dash on the keyboard due to the horizontal alignment of this character with the Arabic fonts

Ellipses (Suspension Points)


Should be used like source.
30

Period
Spacing: No space before. Space after.

Quotation Marks
Quotation marks are used to highlight UI items like button names.
Example:
Source

correct

Click View menu

wrong
" "

Parentheses
Spacing:
Opening: Space before. No space after.
Closing: No space before. Space after.

Singular & Plural


English plural is the equivalent of both the Arabic plural ( )and the Arabic dual (). A proper contextualization
is needed for translating the occurrences of English plural. Example: Spin Arrows are rather and not

Split Infinitive
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Subjunctive
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Symbols & Non-Breaking Spaces


Use non-breaking spaces (CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR) between words that should not separate onto different
lines. You may use them in the following instances:
Between Part, Chapter, or Appendix and its number or letter.
Between a unit of measurement or currency, and the number that goes with it.
Between any items that should not be divided onto separate lines, such as product names Microsoft Windows
XP and version numbers Word 2002.

31

Syntax
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Verbs
This section does not apply to Arabic.:

Word Order
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Style and Tone Considerations


Because of the wide number of countries which have adopted Arabic as their first language, and due to the
different culture, customs, and dialects noted between these countries, Microsoft had to approach this issue with
a lot of care and diplomacy. Therefore, we took into great consideration the two major schools: the Levant and the
Egyptian schools. We conducted surveys in different countries before we established the following general rules:
1.

Characters with or without upper and lower dual dots:

Characters such as and have to have their lower and upper dual dots respectively.
2. The guttural g is represented by the and not by the . Of course this is not always. Because
some times it is pronounced as like George should be not .
3. The month names are used as defaults, the way they are dominantly used in most Arab countries, i.e., in
the Egyptian calendar, transliterated from English .
Now to fine tune the written material that is a dominant component of a product, and this covers the strings in the
User Interface, the on-line assistance and the documentation, it is important to make sure that all staff has training
on how to write. This means having them reach a point where they all write the same way; they all have the
same style, and they all follow the same syntax and structure. This is very critical to good localization. Also, avoid
addressing the computer as a person since this is not quite acceptable in Arabic.
The style is also important throughout the components to secure that things are homogeneous. The
documentation or the help files are certainly split among your staff to work on. At the end of the day, once all of
the help files are built together and compiled, they should look as one entity and they should read as such as well.
One of the most important goals at Microsoft is to always make it easier for the user. We want to avoid confusing
him or her, so we provide literature that is homogenous, consistent, clear, and easy to understand.
Finally, make it easy. We want the words to be among the simplest, clearest, and most common words used in
the language

Audience
Same as in Style and Tone above

32

Style
Same as in Style and Tone above

Tone
Same as in Style and Tone above

Voice
Unlike Arabic, you in English might refer to singular, plural or both gender types. So, this should be considered
in Arabic.
Example: You in the below source might refer to above types.
English

Translation

You are now connected to the Internet.

You are now connected to the Internet.

33

Localization Guidelines
This section contains guidelines for localization into Arabic.

General Considerations
In order to ensure better consistency among all the product components on one side, and among different
Microsoft products on another side, you must ensure that you have a copy of the glossary. Everything should start
with the glossary. Whether you or another party is establishing it, do not start any work before the glossary is set
and final.
The glossary is normally established for each product and comprises those terms found in that specific product.
However, Microsoft glossaries should be - and are - complementary to each other. Each glossary is a
continuation of the preceding one if it concerns the same product but a later version.
For Cross-Product consistency, Microsoft Language Excellence has adopted the idea of having one Glossary for
more than a product, The Glossary is called Master Glossary. The main purpose of Master Glossary is to
escalate the consistency stage to the next level by expanding its vision to include more products.
In addition to glossaries that are specific to products, there is a certain terminology that dominates these products
language or translation. This is what we call the Microsoft Conventions. An example is when - at Microsoft - we
decide to call a computer in Arabic rather than . And when we call the mouse simply in
Arabic and not .
Therefore, it is very important that all your staff be familiar with these terms before they start working on any of the
components.

Abbreviations
The Arabic language has very few abbreviations most of which appear in the mathematics field. Do not attempt to
create abbreviations just because you need an equivalent to the English one. Remember that we want to convey
the information to the user in its most appropriate and clear way.
The most commonly used abbreviations in Arabic are those of country names and currencies. While it is noted
that although it is appropriate in the English or French languages for example, to use a diminutive or to
abbreviate words such as month names, day names, etc., the same practice is not acceptable in Arabic. And
while abbreviations are normally followed by a dot in English, this appears not to be the rule in Arabic.
The general rule for abbreviations in Arabic is to either use the first character of the word (such as in
for AM), or to connect two characters that are originally present in the English word which has in fact no
translation in Arabic but a transliteration such as for for Centimeter.
List of common abbreviations:

Abbreviation
AM
C (Celsius)

Arabic Equivalent

34

CD

CM

CPU

EB

GB

USB

Grams

Hz

KB

KHz

MB

MHz

Mm

MS

Microsoft

PB

PM

Pt

RAM

ROM

TB
U.S.

Accessibility
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Acronyms
Acronyms are words made up of the initial letters of major parts of a compound term. Some well-known examples
are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), or RAM (Random

35

Access Memory). As you may notice, acronyms are pronounceable words, that is, you dont just state the letters
that they are made of one after another.

Localized Acronyms
Acronyms are not common in the Arab world, although some of the western acronyms have been - again transliterated in Arabic. For example: OPEC is spelled and pronounced and written in Arabic as . As far as
Microsofts style in this regards is concerned, the acronym should be as is in English and followed by the
translation in the full form. For example, RAM should be spelled as is and followed by,
between parentheses. This is our practice to introduce a term or to give the user the chance and the time to get
familiar with a new term which was not long ago absent from any Arabic dictionary. And this is what we
recommend you do with acronyms - and sometimes abbreviations.

Unlocalized Acronyms
However, some acronyms remain in English and are not translated nor transliterated for some or all of the
following reasons:
1.

The acronym is so well established as an English word that it has been standardized as such.

2.

Transliterating an acronym would result in an unacceptable word in Arabic.

Note
It is acceptable in some cases to present acronyms fully in English in the documentation, followed by its full
spelling in English.
For example: ANSI (American National Standards Institute).
When dealing with acronyms that appear in Software UI, like dialogs and menus, spacing constraints should be
considered. If the space doesn't permit using the above practice, the English acronym should be used.
For example: ANSI

Applications, Products, and Features


Application/product names are often trademarked or may be trademarked in the future and are therefore rarely
translated. Occasionally, feature names are trademarked, too (e.g. IntelliSense). Before translating any
application, product, or feature name, please verify that it is in fact translatable and not protected in any way.

Frequent Errors
Source

Show and hide an image

Translation

Fix

Comment

There shouldn't be
space between the

genitive and its
complement
36

Show and hide an image

To resolve this problem,


enter a valid product key.

it should be in the
nominative form
should be in
the accusative form

click All Programs, click



Accessories, right-click the
"" "

command-prompt shortcut,
"

and then click Run as
." " ""
.
Administrator.

Unlike English, the


conjunction should
be used
repeatedly.

However, there may be


times when you want to
manually change your

presence status. For
. .
example, if you are working


on something that is time
" "
critical, you may want to
.
.
change your status to Do
Not Disturb to avoid being
interrupted.

Due to literal and


incorrect translation
of "may want", it
resulted in
incoherent
meaning.

The application has three


action

Incorrect plural
form.

Not all file types can be


edited

Due to literal
translation or
following the
wordiness of the
source, the
translation is totally
wrong.

Glossaries
Because many translators often work on one product, it is important to agree on the style in advance. In addition,
it is important that all translators maintain a list of common terms, so that the same translation is always used for
standard phrases. This list of terms is the property of Microsoft.

37

Fictitious Information
Fictitious content is legally sensitive material and as such cannot be handled as a pure terminology or localization
issue. Below is some basic information and contact points when dealing with fictitious content:
Vendors and Localizers are not allowed to create their own fictitious names. You must either use the source
names or use the list of legally approved names.

Recurring Patterns
This section does not apply to Arabic.

Standardized Translations
There are a number of standardized translations mentioned in all sections of this Style Guide. In order to find
them more easily, the most relevant topics and sections are compiled here for you reference.
Standard Phrases in Error Messages

Unlocalized Items
Trademarked names and the name Microsoft Corporation shouldnt be localized. A list of Microsoft trademarks is
available for your reference at the following location: http://www.microsoft.com/trademarks/t-mark/names.htm.

Using the Word Microsoft


In English, it is prohibited to use MS as an abbreviation for Microsoft.

Software Considerations
This section refers to all menus, menu items, commands, buttons, check boxes, etc., which should be consistently
translated in the localized product.
Refer to http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/aa511258.aspx for a detailed explanation of the Windows user interface
guidelines (English).

38

User Interface
When explaining how to use the mouse or when giving instructions about its use, use the following conventions:
Example:
Mouse action
Click
Click in the window
Click the button
Double-click

Arabic Equivalent



Move the mouse pointer to

Position the mouse pointer on

Press and hold the mouse button


Drag

Click and drag

Press and drag

Hove the mouse

Also, in order to avoid confusion while naming some of the uncommon colors, here is a table that provides the
terms in Arabic.
Color

Arabic Equivalent

Aqua

Butter Milk

Black

Blue

Dark gray

Fuchsia

Gray

Green

Light gray
Lime

39

Maroon
Medium gray

Navy

Olive

Purple

Red

Silver

Teal

White

Yellow

Aquamarine

Blanched Almond

Blue Gradient

Blue Violet
Dark Magenta
Dark Olive Green
Dark Orchid

Dark Slate Blue

Dark Turquoise

Deep Pink

Dodger Blue

Fire Brick

Green Gradient

Honeydew
Light Sky Blue
Light Slate Gray
Medium Aquamarine
Medium Turquoise





40

Mint Cream

Misty Rose

Moccasin
Navajo White
Olive Drab
Orchid

Pale Goldenrod

Pale Turquoise

Papaya Whip
Plum

Powder Blue

Sandy Brown

Sky Blue
Tan
Turquoise

White Smoke

Yellow Green

Messages
Messages are on-line warnings, instructions, or descriptions that inform the user about the product or the
conditions that may require special consideration. There are two types of messages: Informative Messages and
Interactive Messages.
Informative messages an informative message appears in a message box or in the status bar at the bottom of the
screen.
Interactive messages an interactive message usually appears in a message box and requires a response or an
action.
It is important not to be too literate when translating messages. Do not forget that you are limited in many ways by
the total number of characters allowed in a message. The following table shows two frequently found ambiguities
and the work around for a better translation:

41

English
Windows cannot open this file

Arabic

Rational

Windows Do not say:


Windows
We need the user to understand
that under the particular
circumstances or due to the
particular status of the file, Windows
is unable to open it

File can not be saved

Do not say:

This will implicate that it is not
possible to save a file, which is not
true. We need to let the user
understand that under the present
circumstances, the file cannot be
saved.

Status Messages
What is a Status Bar Message?
A status bar message is an informational message about the active document or a selected command as well as
about any active or selected interface item. Messages are shown in the status bar at the bottom of the window
when the user has chosen a menu, a command or any other item, or has started a function. The status bar
messages refer to actions being performed or already complete (for example in Outlook below).

Arabic Style in Status bar Messages


In English, the status bar messages have different forms dependent on what kind of information they give. Menu
status bar messages and commands status bar messages localized into Arabic do not differ as shown in the
tables.
42

Due to the absence of an equivalent to it as a gender in Arabic, when the user points on an icon (which has the
feminine gender in Arabic) or on a button (which has the masculine gender in Arabic), a messages that says:
Displays full pages as they will be printed would leave you to wonder whether to say or .
Therefore, and because we always seek a more direct and short way to translate these messages, we have opted
for the use of the verbal noun.
Examples:
Name

Category English bar message

Arabic bar message

Edit

menu

Contains editing commands

Copy to Folder

menu

Copies the selected items to a


new location

New

command Creates a new document

The importance of standardization


In the US product you can often find messages that are phrased differently even though they have the same
meaning. Try to avoid this in the localized Arabic version. Use one standard translation as in the examples below:
English term
Press F1 to get Help

Correct Arabic translation


F1

If you want Help press F1


To get Help press F1
Not enough memory

Insufficient memory
There is not enough memory
Save changes to %1?

%1

Do you want to save changes to %1?

43

Error Messages
What Is An Error Message?
Here is an example:

Error messages are messages sent by the system or a program, informing the user that there is an error that
must be corrected in order for the program to keep running. For example, the messages can prompt the user to
take an action or inform the user of an error that requires rebooting the computer.
Arabic Style in Error Messages
It is important to use consistent terminology and language style in the localized error messages, and not just
translate as they appear in the US product.
Standard Phrases in Error Messages
When translating standard phrases, standardize. Note that sometimes the US uses different forms to express the
same thing.
Examples:
English
Cannot
Could not
Failed to
Failure of

Translation

Example

Comment

Cannot find
Could not find
Unable to find
Unable to locate
Not enough memory
Insufficient memory

44

English

Translation

Example

Comment

There is not enough memory


There is not enough memory
available
is not available
is unavailable

Error Messages Containing Placeholders


When localizing error messages containing placeholders, try to find out what will replace the placeholder. This is
necessary for the sentence to be grammatically correct when the placeholder is replaced with a word or phrase.
Note that the letters used in placeholders convey a specific meaning, see examples below:
%d, %ld, %u, and %lu means <number>
%c means <letter>
%s means <string>
Examples of error messages containing placeholders:
"Checking Web %1!d! of %2!d!" means "Checking Web <number> of <number>".
"INI file "%1!-.200s!" section" means "INI file "<string>" section".

Keys
The keyboard is the primary input device used for text input in Microsoft Windows. For accessibility and efficiency,
most actions can be performed using the keyboard as well. While working with Microsoft software, you use keys,
key combinations and key sequences.
In English, References to key names, like arrow keys, function keys and numeric keys, appear in normal text (not
in small caps).
Due to the absence of keyboards, and stickers, that have all of the function keys in Arabic, the general rule
has been to:
Keep all the keys in English when they are listed as an action to be done or an instruction to be followed, when
directly concerning the User Interface. And translate them when they occur in a narrative or explanatory manner.

45

Access Keys/Hot keys

Sometimes, there are underlined or highlighted letters in menu options, commands or dialog boxes. These letters
refer to access keys (also known as hot keys) that allow you to run commands, perform tasks, etc. more quickly.

The ampersand (&) is used in the localization of software to designate hot keys. A hot key is the character that
appears underlined on a menu or inside a dialog box.
The general rule is that the hot key should be clearly visible to the user. So it is very important to avoid
whenever possible using the ampersand on ligatures to designate a hot key. This means avoiding the alef with
hamza, for example.
Where the hot keys have already been established for commonly used commands such as the File menu, for
example, and all its menu commands, the hot keys must always remain the same whenever possible in all
Microsoft products.
Avoid using & on English abbreviation unless it is necessary (e.g. &TCP/IP), where there is no Arabic
alternative or would result in duplication.
Avoid assigning keys that require using the shift key like as & is used by pressing the shift key.
Avoid using the & with Alef with Hamza under; e.g.; &
Sometimes the English uses && representing the meaning of And. This should be replaced with ""
Additional notes: N/A

Arrow Keys
The arrow keys move input focus among the controls within a group. Pressing the right arrow key moves input
focus to the next control in tab order, whereas pressing the left arrow moves input focus to the previous control.
Home, End, Up, and Down also have their expected behavior within a group. Users can't navigate out of a control
group using arrow keys.

46

Right Arrow

Left Arrow

Up Arrow

Down Arrow

Numeric Keypad
It is recommended that you avoid distinguishing numeric keypad keys from the other keys, unless it is required by
a given application. In case which keys to be pressed is not obvious, provide necessary explanations.

Shortcut Keys
Shortcut keys are keystrokes or combinations of keystrokes used to perform defined functions in a software
application. Shortcut keys replace menu commands and they are sometimes given next to the command they
represent. In opposition to the access keys, which can be used only when available on the screen, shortcut keys
can be used even when they are not accessible on the screen.
Standard Shortcut Keys
US
Command

US English
Shortcut Key

Arabic
Command

Arabic
Shortcut key

General Windows Shortcut keys


F1

Help window

F1

Context-sensitive Help

Shift+F1

Display pop-up menu

Shift+F10

Cancel

Esc

Esc

Activate\Deactivate
menu bar mode

F10

/ F10

Switch to the next


primary application

Alt+Tab

Alt+Tab

Display next window

Alt+Esc

Alt+Esc

Display pop-up menu


for the window

Alt+Spacebar

Display pop-up menu


for the active child

Alt+-

Shift+F1
Shift+F10

Alt+Spacebar
Alt+-

47

US
Command

US English
Shortcut Key

Arabic
Command

Arabic
Shortcut key

window
Alt+Enter

Display property sheet


for current selection

Alt+Enter

Close active
application window

Alt+F4

Alt+F4

Switch to next window


within (modelesscompliant) application

Alt+F6

Alt+F6

Capture active window


image to the Clipboard

Alt+Prnt Scrn

Alt+Prnt Scrn

Capture desktop
image to the Clipboard

Prnt Scrn

Prnt Scrn

Access Start button in


taskbar

Ctrl+Esc

Display next child


window

Ctrl+F6

Ctrl+F6

Display next tabbed


pane

Ctrl+Tab

Ctrl+Tab

Launch Task Manager


and system
initialization

Ctrl+Shift+Esc

"" Ctrl+Esc

" " Ctrl+Shift+Esc

File Menu
File New

Ctrl+N

Ctrl+N

File Open

Ctrl+O

Ctrl+O

File Close

Ctrl+F4

Ctrl+F4

File Save

Ctrl+S

File Save as

F12

File Print Preview

Ctrl+F2

File Print

Ctrl+P

Ctrl+P

File Exit

Alt+F4

Alt+F4

Ctrl+S
F12
Ctrl+F2

Edit Menu
48

US
Command

US English
Shortcut Key

Arabic
Command

Arabic
Shortcut key

Edit Undo

Ctrl+Z

Ctrl+Z

Edit Repeat

Ctrl+Y

Ctrl+Y

Edit Cut

Ctrl+X

Ctrl+X

Edit Copy

Ctrl+C

Ctrl+C

Edit Paste

Ctrl+V

Ctrl+V

Edit Delete

Ctrl+Backspace

Ctrl+Backspace

Edit Select All

Ctrl+A

Ctrl+A

Edit Find

Ctrl+F

Ctrl+F

Edit Replace

Ctrl+H

Ctrl+H

Edit Go To

Ctrl+B

Ctrl+B
Help Menu

Help

F1

F1
Font Format

Italic

Ctrl+I

Ctrl+I

Bold

Ctrl+G

Ctrl+G

Underlined\Word
underline

Ctrl+U

Ctrl+U

Large caps

Ctrl+Shift+A

Ctrl+Shift+A

Small caps

Ctrl+Shift+K

Ctrl+Shift+K
Paragraph Format

Centered

Ctrl+E

Ctrl+E

Left aligned

Ctrl+L

Ctrl+L

Right aligned

Ctrl+R

Ctrl+R

Justified

Ctrl+J

Ctrl+J

49

Document Translation Considerations


Document localization may require some specific considerations that are different from software localization. This
section covers a few of these areas.

Titles
In English the titles for chapters usually begin with "How to " or with phrases such as "Working with " or
"Using ".

General guidelines when translating titles

Avoid resorting to literal or word by word translation. The Target should read as original in simple and
understandable way.
Avoid the use of American idioms or Microsoft jargon/acronyms/abbreviations that would not be readily
understood in the Arabic market.
If something seems to be unsuitable for a market either because it is too American or culturally
inappropriate, alert your Microsoft PU contact

Consistency
Consistency is very important, and all related titles should be translated consistently. In a few cases it might be
advisable to adopt a solution different from the above guidelines, e.g. by using infinitives only, if this ensure better
consistency and improved understand ability for the end user.

Recurring patterns
When translating titles there are certain recurrent patterns that you should pay attention to, as indicated below:
A few examples of course titles:
Source
What's New in <product name>
Getting Started with <product name>
Installing and Configuring <product name>

Target
" "
" "
" "

Copyright
Copyright protection is granted to any original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression from
which it can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated.

50