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.”

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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5 responses to “Changing the Text Direction in Microsoft Word”

  1. Ehab Abdin says:

    Thank you so much

  2. Rasul Khoshravan says:

    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 says:

      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).

  3. The Phoenix says:

    Thanks a lot….!!!

  4. Juana Uribe says:

    Information was accurate and easy to follow
    Thank you very much!

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