Arabic text in multilingual manual

Subject: Arabic text in multilingual manual
From: "Mike Sawyer" <mike -at- sawyerhome -dot- net>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 10:39:37 -0600

This is a pretty specific question about Arabic that (I think) mostly tech
writers would encounter, not other types of writers, so here goes...

The issue: Most of my client's manuals (big or small) are translated into
several languages, but they're not distributed individually--the several
languages are combined into a single "book" (PDF). Arabic is usually one of
the languages used, and the only language that is right-to-left.

The questions/problems: In the case of multilingual books, where each
language is in its own "section," what's the most common/accepted way to
integrate Arabic? Can Arabic be placed in sections just like the other
languages, with pagination continuing as before, or is it usually moved to
the back so that the back cover could act as a "front cover" for the Arabic
reader? Should it have its own pagination scheme? It gets complicated
because the Table of Contents would, understandably, need to show all
sections, so the reader would need to be able to easily find the correct
page number, even in Arabic.

Other thoughts: I'm reluctant to totally reverse pagination in only one
section for fear of the browsing order of pages no longer being intuitive.
Other than Arabic, laying out the little quick setup booklets is pretty
straightforward; if Arabic takes more work, it takes more work, but if
there's an acceptable easier way, or if any of you could tell me what's the
conventional approach to such manuals, I would hugely appreciate it.

A complication: in some booklets, the translated setup information comes at
the front of the guide, followed by untranslated regulatory information at
the back. An engineer is having me move the Arabic to the back, after the
regulatory section, so a right-to-left reader, treating the book like a
right-to-left book, would encounter Arabic first. The TOC looks wacky, as a


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