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Motif and CDE 2.1 Style Guide

Vertical Language Support

Although Asian languages use both vertically and horizontally written text, vertical text is the more natural of the two. In vertical text, a line is a string of characters written from top to bottom, and each new line starts to the left of the previous line. Figure 42 shows an example of vertically written text.

Figure 42. Vertically Written Text (Japanese).

View figure.

Character Alignment

Chinese, Japanese, and other vertically written Asian languages represent words as characters or combinations of characters. Unlike English, these characters should be equally spaced from each other. Similar to a grid, each character should be aligned on a vertical line called a center line.

Preedit Area

In vertically written text, the preedit string must be displayed vertically. You can do this with the on-the-spot method (see "Locating the Preedit Area"). On-the-spot character entry eases the implementation of an input method server for vertical writing.

Basic Rule for Vertical Applications

The basic rule for vertical language applications is that you must display all pieces of data in the orientation that is correct for the user. Also, data input must be supported in the orientation that is natural for users.

National Language Use

Chinese and Japanese applications generally must use the national language for titles, instructions, headings, prompts, and other window controls, with the following exceptions:

  1. English acronyms or terms are not commonly translated, for example, DOS, EXE, CICS.

  2. Key names must be identical to the keyboard; for example, F1, Alt, Ctrl, Enter.

  3. Key combinations must be displayed in English, for example, Alt F2.

Dynamic Language Selection

An application may allow dynamic language selection. When the user chooses a new language, the headings, messages, and commands should adhere to the new language. For vertical languages, the application interface should reflect these vertical language guidelines. When the application contains a mixture of vertical and left-to-right language elements, the left-to-right elements follow the unmodified guidelines provided in the Style Guide Reference; the vertical language elements follow these vertical language guidelines.

If the application is multilingual, mention the language being used in the product information window. If the application allows dynamic language selection, mention the initial language in the product information window.


Use a vertical screen orientation for Chinese and Japanese applications. Thus the top of a window is the "begin" side, and the bottom is the "end" side. Lines of text begin with the rightmost line and continue leftward. Most references in the guidelines for left-to-right languages are true for Chinese and Japanese, with the understanding that the meaning of "top" and "right" (and "bottom" and "left") are interchanged for client areas, preedit areas, and some labels, text-display fields, and text-entry fields.

While vertical language interfaces seem to have exchanged the meaning of the words "top," "bottom," "left," and "right," the physical right and left are still the same. Thus the following have the same effect for Chinese and Japanese as for English:

  1. Cursor movement keys (including < and >) must still move the cursor according to the direction of the arrow engraved on the key top. (This is also true for combinations of < and > with Shift, Ctrl, or Alt.)

    Also, Ctrl PageUp must always scroll to the left and Ctrl PageDown to the right.

  2. Right and left buttons of a pointing device are not transposed.

  3. Right and left movement of a pointing device is not transposed.

  4. Graphics may be unaffected by the window orientation: for example, a map must still have the East on the right and the West on the left.

  5. Pull-down menus, pop-up menus, push buttons, and most dialog boxes still conform to left-to right language guidelines.

The appearance of a Chinese or Japanese window is the same as a corresponding English window, except that the orientation of the text in a client area is vertical instead of left-to-right.

In a vertical language environment, the user chooses the orientation of the screen and windows according to use, standards, or preferences.

Guidelines for Vertical Screens and Windows

Use the following guidelines for vertical screens and windows:

  1. When including English text in vertically written text, display the English text rotated clockwise by 90 degrees.

  2. You can use a left-to-right window on a vertical screen and vice versa. This means that English left-to-right applications can be used on a vertical screen and Chinese and Japanese (vertical) applications can be used on a left-to-right screen.

  3. The format of text data to be exchanged between clients is the same as in horizontally written text. Since the text buffer representation of characters is the same in both horizontal and vertical writing, you can treat the text data in the same way in both writing styles.

  4. Expand text selections vertically. Vertical motion of the pointer is interpreted as column expansion, and horizontal motion of the pointer is interpreted as line expansion.

  5. Within the same window, text and graphics may have differing orientations. For example, a geographic map may have left-to-right graphics (as for an English application), but the Chinese and Japanese captions may have vertical graphics.

  6. Text-entry fields are a special case: for each field, an orientation is defined, which by default is vertical within vertical windows. However, you should define fields that are to receive numeric data or English text as left to right. Within a text-entry field, the keying or cursor direction may be vertical or left to right, according to the data entered: Chinese or Japanese text, or English text and numbers.

    For more information, see "Vertical Text-Entry Fields".

Vertical Text-Entry Fields

In a vertical application, each field has an orientation that is defined by the application. By default, text-entry fields assume the same orientation as the client area's text field. According to the expected contents of the field, the application must define text entry as vertical (Chinese or Japanese textual data) or left to right (numeric data or English textual data).

Vertical Text-Entry Field Differences

Vertical text-entry fields differ from left-to-right text-entry fields in the following ways:

  1. Text is top-aligned in the text-entry field.

  2. At initial entry, the cursor is located at the topmost position.

  3. For each entry, the cursor movement is initiated as top to bottom: in replace mode, the text cursor moves down to the next entry position; in insert mode, the cursor and all characters under the cursor are shifted one position down.

  4. If scrolling is available in the text-entry field, the topmost field positions are initially visible. When the cursor moves down, the information scrolls to show more characters below. In summary, the beginning of the information is on the top, its end on the bottom.

In most Asian language applications, the user must enter English letters to generate an equivalent Asian character. For example, in Chinese, the user enters a character by keying in a phonetic "word" (called PinYin) that is based on the English alphabet. Since many characters can match a phonetic approximation, it is essential to display all of the matching characters in the application's status area or preedit area. The user should be able to locate the correct character and select it quickly.

Text Cursor Position in Insert Mode

In general, the text cursor has the same appearance as described for left-to-right text except that it is rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

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