Changing the Text Direction in Microsoft Word
  • 2-minute read
  • 14th December 2014

Changing the Text Direction in Microsoft Word

If you regularly use Microsoft Word with a language that reads from right-to-left, you may find that the right-to-left format remains when you try to write in English. This is because the text direction defaults to right-to-left in versions of Microsoft Word sold in some regions.

Luckily, if you’re using a Windows computer, changing the direction of text is easy via the “left-to-right” command. Only the most recent versions of Word for Mac support this feature, so if you encounter this problem, the best option is to copy and paste the text into a new document.

Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

The first thing you need to do is add the “left-to-right” command to the Quick Access Toolbar. To do this, click the arrow next to the “Redo” button and choose “More Commands” from the dropdown list.

Accessing the menus.
Accessing the menus.

On the next screen, you have the option to choose commands to add to the toolbar. If you can’t see the “left-to-right” command, chose “All Commands” from the top menu.

All commands.
All commands.

Next, scroll down and choose “Left-to-Right Text Direction.” The name of the command here may depend on the version of Word you’re using. In Word 2010, this command is called “Ltr run,” while Word 2003 lists it as “Ltr para.”

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Left-to-right text direction.
Left-to-right text direction.

Now the button will be displayed on the toolbar (you can use a similar process to add it to the main ribbon if you right click on the ribbon and select “Customize the Ribbon”).

LTR and RTL on the Quick Access bar.
LTR and RTL on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Now select the text that is showing right-to-left, click the button, and it should switch to left-to-right. Repeat this last step anywhere in your document, including footnotes and comment boxes, where the text direction displays from right-to-left.

It’s also worth noting that you can select the “Right-to-Left Text Direction” command using the same method. This is useful if you need to switch back to the original format at any point.

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Comments (12)
Ehab Abdin
19th July 2020 at 20:55
Thank you so much
Rasul Khoshravan
29th August 2020 at 19:51
I have a PDF file with Arabic language. So it is right-to-left. I want to convert it to a word file. After doing this, all letters appear in left-to-right. The order of letters are reversed so it is impossible to read. Do you have idea how can I solve this issue?
    Proofed
    31st August 2020 at 12:23
    Hi, Rasul. The instructions in this post explain how to change the text direction in a Word document, so you should just need to follow them and add the “Right-to-Left Text Direction” button to your ribbon/quick access toolbar (if it isn't already available).
The Phoenix
21st September 2020 at 16:04
Thanks a lot....!!!
Juana Uribe
21st September 2020 at 19:48
Information was accurate and easy to follow Thank you very much!
Cecilia
14th October 2020 at 22:29
I tried using the method described in the post and all it did is move the block of text from the left side of the page to the right side of the page, which is the equivalent of right justifying the text. I was under the impression that the order of the text would change so that the words could be read (in order) from right to left. Note: I'm using MS Word for Mac, version 16.42. Is there a way to actually change the order of the words on the page so that they read from right to left?
    Proofed
    15th October 2020 at 09:48
    Hi, Cecilia. The text direction controls let you set the cursor for a specific script style, but they don't reverse existing text. You can use a text box in Word to create mirror text (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/reverse-or-mirror-text-f3875692-7646-4be4-815f-4f531bbeff74), which will also reverse the order of the words in a sentence, but I don't think there's any tool that will just reverse the word order in a passage of text, unfortunately.
Julian Jubran
19th April 2021 at 20:32
big thanks for this information it's solve many problems also in the exams
M kaleem
19th July 2021 at 12:31
Dear this is not a permanent solution, once you exit from word and restart again its again start right to left. i don't know whats the permanent solution .
    Proofed
    19th July 2021 at 13:00
    Hi there. Can you explain the exact issue a bit more? If you've added the "left-to-right" and "right-to-left" buttons to your toolbar, they should still be there when you exit and reload MS Word. So, while the default text direction might still depend on your version of word/language preferences, it should then be easy to adjust the text direction as required.
GEEVER SIMON K
25th February 2022 at 09:32
In a Word document few words/sentences are right to left and others are left to right. What is the reason for this direction change. Please help me to solve this. The font is Unicode Malayalam
    Proofed
    28th February 2022 at 09:58
    Hi, Geever. If you've tried the advice set out in this post and it hasn't changed the alignment, have you tried the basic alignment options? If those don't work either, then you could try submitting the document to our proofreaders to see if they can help, or you could try the Microsoft support forums.

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