Microsoft Office text is typically Unicode compliant by default, but there are some issues to be considered when inputting text in different Microsoft Office products.

Note: Before you can use any of these Tools packages, all the proper keyboards and fonts must be installed and activated for each script.

Switch Keyboards

For best results switch your keyboards to the appropriate script or input appropriate symbol codes.

Character Insertion

Generally speaking you will have better results if you use either the Character Map (Windows) or the Character Viewer (Macintosh) rather than the built in Microsoft insertion tools. The Microsoft tools may cause you to insert non-Unicode text.

Font Substitution

Depending on the program Microsoft Office handles font changes for different scripts in slightly different ways.

Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word, if you attempt to enter or paste a character not in the current script, Microsoft will insert the character in a different font and then stay with that font.

The change will be seen in the Font menu in the Format area of the toolbar.

Disable Match Font with Keyboard

On some versions of Word, you may want to disable the option to Match font with Keyboard. When it’s enabled, it may cause the font to change when a new keyboard is selected, even if the original font contains the appropriate character.

PowerPoint and Excel Background Changes

In these two programs Microsoft will switch fonts if you insert a character not in the script, but could switch back to the old font if the next character is in it.

In any case, the change in font is not indicated in the Font menu. It can only be detected by examining the character or copying and pasting the text into another program.

Language Tagging

Microsoft Office allows editors to tag different sections of a text as a particiular language. Once a section is tagged a particular language, the spelling and grammar proofing tools will switch to the new language.

Note: By default the document is tagged as the same language as the Office interface.


As of Office 2007, you can mark text as non-English in the Review tab. To mark your text, do the following:

  1. Highlight the non-English text.
  2. Click the Review tab on the Word toolbar,
  3. In the Proofing section on the left, select the globe icon (Set Language). A pop-window will open where you can select an appropriate language.
  4. Perform the spell check. The non-English text will be checked against the non-English dictionary.


The tool is also under the Review tab towards the left.

Layout Options

Microsoft Office does support some non-Western script layouts, but options tend to vary between the Windows versus Mac versions. Below are some example scenarios.

Windows Office

  • Asian Layout – In Office 2013, many Asian Layout options are under the Layout tab, then Text Direction.
  • Right to Left (RTL) Alignment – The buttons to set paragraphs to RTL alignment are in the Layout tab. See the Microsoft support site for details.

LTR and RTL Buttons in Office

Two paragraph symbols with arrow on left for left to right alignment or right for right to left alignment


  • Asian Layout – Many Asian Layout options are under the Format menu, then Asian Layout. Additional tools are in the Home tab near the other text formatting options.
  • RTL Alignment – In Office 2016 for Macintosh, the buttons to set paragraphs to RTL alignment are in the Home tab below the other paragraph alignment options.

Open Office

Open Office includes similar language formatting tools as in Microsoft Office. However they may need to be activated in the preferences.

Note: In term of font switches, Open Office appears to behave in a way the parallels how Microsoft Office would behave.

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