Using LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian

Among all the open source replications of Microsoft Word LibreOffice might be the best. Its clean interface design and its free updates make superior to other open-source Word imitations such as OpenOffice and  NeoOffice. But what makes me write about it here is LibreOffice’s support for right-to-left Arabic-script-based languages and such as Arabic and Persian.

LibreOffice’s Support for Arabic Script

If you are a Mac user who works with Arabic/Persian script you might know that Microsoft Word does not render Arabic script correctly on Mac. Why the world’s most popular text editor still does not support Arabic (one of the world’s major scripts) after about 30 years is still a question to me but I am not going to write about that in this post. Here I am going to show you how to activate Arabic script on LibreOfice and how to use it to to type in Arabic-script-based languages (Arabic, Persian, Urdu, etc.) or to open/save Arabic-script files in Microsoft Word format (“.doc”).

LibreOffice can open your “.doc” documents and you can save your documents in Microsoft Word format as well. But first you need to:

1 Step one: Open LibreOffice. To change the default setting make sure that no document is open. Under “Libre Office” in the menu go to Preferences.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (1)

2 In the Preferences panel go to Languages. Checkmark Enabled for Complex text layout (CTL). That is the term used for Arabic script and right-to-left (RTL) languages. Also choose your language (Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, etc.) from the drop-down menu under CTL.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (2)

3 Again in Preferences panel go to Basic Fonts (CTL) under LibreOffice Writer to choose the fonts you want to use when you type in Arabic-script  or any RTL language. Geeza Pro is Mac’s default font for Arabic-script languages but you can install your own Arabic and Persian fonts and choose them here. (Note: My suggested font is still Geeza Pro, since some fonts do not follow the standards and consequently do not work properly in software like LibreOffice.) Save your preferences by clicking on OK.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (3)

4 Now open a text document. The menu expands. Under Tools go to Customized…. You go there to customize your toolbar and add two shortcuts icons for Right-to-Left (RTL) and Left-to-Right (LTR) to it.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (4)

5 Choose Toolbars from the top menu. Make sure Standard is chosen as your toolbar under LibreOffice Writer Toolbars. Then click on “Add”.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (5)

6 From the list choose Format. Under Format choose Right-to-Left and add it to your toolbar. Repeat the same process to add Left-to-Right to your toolbar as well.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (6)

7 Use the arrows to re-position the Right-to-Left and Left-to-Right on your toolbar. Save the customized setting when you are done.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (7)

8 Two new icons for Right-to-Left (RTL) and Left-to-Right (LTR) appear on your toolbar. Choose your language from Mac’s top menu, then click on RTL icon and begin typing. The text should be right-to-left and typed in the font you chose as default for your RTL language.

Now begin a new paragraph and choose LTR. Switch to a Latin-script language like English or German and type a few words. The new paragraph should be left-to-right in typed in the default font for Latin-script-based languages. If your test does not work properly begin the whole process again and make sure you have set up everything correctly.

LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian (8)

That is it! LibreOffice is ready for Right-to-Left languages.

Note: You can set up your LibreOffice to save documents in Word format instead of ODF (Open Document Format). That way you do not need to choose “.doc” every time you save a document that you want to share with the Microsoft-Word users. Hopefully this setting sets you free from Microsoft Word and enables you to write your Arabic/Persian documents in your Apple computer.
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8 Responses to How to setup LibreOffice for Arabic and Persian?

  1. Ali says:

    Wow, you’re amazing. Thanks a lot.

  2. Hadi says:


  3. Fari says:

    you are amazing!

  4. Ahmed Riad says:

    Thank you big time. You saved me tons of headache.

  5. Ebrahim Almahfoodh says:

    this steps is help full,


  6. hosein says:

    Thanks for your helpful instructions and u know it’s a bit inconvenient to change the default or heading or … everytime you want to use a new font. At any rate your guide was completely helpful. But now the “preferences” is changed to “options” form the “tools” toolbar.

  7. farbod says:

    thanks man, saved my day 🙂

  8. Ola says:

    I solden wtirte thanks for someone but this time , I found your answer after so much work and sreaching …. thank you . thank you . thank you.

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