Numbers in Arabic: Hindi numerals or Arabic numerals?

Two different forms of numerals exist in Arabic text. You can write precisely the same number using either of the two systems of numerals. This means you can use either Arabic numerals or Hindi numerals to write numbers in Arabic typesetting. But what’s the difference and which is best to use?
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Arabic typesetting: get it right (to left)!

Arabic is one of the world’s great languages.

The Arabic language has a long cultural history, with Classical Arabic stretching back to least the 4th Century. Arabic typesetting and calligraphy also has a long history, as described in this excellent ilovetypography article, “Arabic calligraphy as a typographic exercise”.

Today, it is spoken as a first language by 280 million people. Geographically it is a key language in a wide belt stretching from Morocco across north Africa via Libya and Egypt through the Middle East to the Gulf states in the East such as UAE and Oman. Arabic is an official language in 26 countries, the third most frequent behind English and French.

So it is no surprise that Arabic frequently crops up in multilingual typesetting projects. Yet, for those used to other languages, Arabic typesetting contains some stumbling blocks.
Continue reading “Arabic typesetting: get it right (to left)!”