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Working with Arabic Language in Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator lets you create graphics and text in vector format which is resolution independent. You can resize an Illustrator graphic in any fashion and it will still maintain its high quality. In document translation and graphics localization projects, various issues can surface involving fonts and certain languages. This is particularly pronounced if an Adobe Illustrator diagram with text must be translated and formatted for Arabic or other bidirectional (BiDi) languages.

Adobe Illustrator is very powerful software application for designing and manipulating vector graphics and fonts, which makes this application a favorite tool with graphic designers and desktop publishers. Illustrator is the best option if you are working with vector-based illustrations, sketches, logos, 3D diagrams or a location map and it could sometimes be used for designing brochures and flyers.

Arabic support for Illustrator ME

In order to handle Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and other Bi-Directional languages in Illustrator, your language translation services team will need the Middle East version of this application. The regular version of Illustrator does not support right-to-left text or Arabic script shaping.

Middle Eastern Illustrator editions are available with full Arabic support. Using Illustrator ME will allow your language translation partner’s desktop publishing specialists to use Arabic fonts, to outline text, and save as files as *.ai, *.eps or *.pdf.

Using Adobe Illustrator with Arabic Calligraphy


Arabic calligraphy is the artistic form of Arabic handwriting. This art form is based on the Arabic script, used for centuries Muslims across a wide swathe of the globe their respective languages. Muslims used it to represent Qur’an and to decorate mosques because they are forbidden from representing their religion or prophets with images.

Calligraphy is especially revered among Islamic arts, and since it was the primary means for the preservation of the Qur’an, in Islamic culture Adobe Illustrator is the most effective application for this type or writing and art.

Adobe Illustrator has the necessary tools which help to create the calligraphic art by converting the fonts into shapes. After this conversion highly creative transformations may take place by creating several lines then using the pen tool to adjust the curves.

Arabic Desktop Publishing Best Practices

Arabic Desktop publishing is a special case and always requires qualified staff with extensive experience with the DTP application that supports Arabic and the language specifications. Arabic DTP goes beyond manipulation of calligraphy in Illustrator and encompasses several aspects of layout and design.

Arabic desktop publishing best practices include:

  1. Arabic layout should be oriented in a right-to-left direction, including text, graphic, logos, arrows, bullets, special marks, etc.
  2. Desktop publishing specialists at your language services company should move the graphic elements around the design to reflect the right-to-left direction.
  3. Arabic text should use an “easy to read” font. The use old, traditional Arabic fonts should be restricted to design elements or calligraphy in artwork or slogans.
  4. A font size should selected that will be easily visible for readers of the printed materials.
  5. If your source language files are a multiple page brochure or a guide book, your translation agency will need to reverse the page order in the design. The printing facility producing final hard copy deliverables in Arabic should change page order during the print process, because the Arabic books and flyers have are opened and read in a “reverse” fashion compared to western publications.
  6. Numerals, including phone numbers, should be the same order (left-to-right) as English.
Desktop publishing and Arabic localization

Arabic translation and localization, which includes desktop publishing, requires solid experience with the Arabic language and Arabic-enabled desktop publishing tools to enable delivery of localized Arabic files in best quality. Your language translation services company should have qualified desktop publishers or graphic artists who are proficient in the programs mentioned in this blog. You may find some of our previous blogs on Arabic design and translation issues useful: