5 Access Settings for the Right-to-Left Languages

The Wizard

Tips and Tricks by The Wizard

5 Access Settings for the Right-to-Left Languages

Hello My Apprentice,

  Welcome back! As you might know already, Access is a popular database software application.  It has rich support for international features such as date, time formatting, calendar, currency and text editing, etc. Today, I will shed some light on the features that are designed for the users of a Right-to-Left language.


1. Right-to-Left Default Direction

If the language of your Microsoft Office is not one of the Right-to-Left language versions, you’ll probably see the layout of objects like tables, forms and reports in the Left-to-Right direction. You can go to the Access Options dialog to switch the direction of these objects.  Here are the steps: click the File button –> Options  -> Client Settings tab –> under the Editing section, find Default direction -> select the Right-to-left radio button –> OK.

Access Options dialog: Default direction    

Once the “Right-to-Left” setting is applied, the next time you create a new database, the Right-to-Left layout will be used by default for objects such as tables, forms and reports. As shown in the snapshot below, the first column of the table starts from the right.  The location of the fields and the controls in the form and report are also on the right and the text is right aligned. 

   Access objects in Right to Left layout 


Can I switch the direction of the new object in my current database?

The answer is: It depends.

  • Yes, the default direction setting will take effect the next time you create a new object, even in the current database.

  • No, if the object has already been created before changing the default direction. However, it is recommended that all objects are set to the same layout direction within the same database. This is to avoid confusion to others with whom you might share the database.

2. The Hijri Calendar

The current Islamic year or Hijri calendar year is 1430 (while the Gregorian calendar year is 2009). By default, date format used in any Date & Time field follows the format of the language set in the Windows Regional and Language Options. For example, if the Regional language is set to English, then the Gregorian calendar will be used in Access.

If you want to leave the Windows Regional language as English while having the ability to use the Hijri calendar in the database, you can do this in the Access Options dialog. Here are the steps: click the File button –> Options  -> Client Settings tab –> under the Editing section, check the “Use Hijri Calendar” checkbox –> OK

Acess Options dialog: Use Hijri Calendar
Note that this checkbox will only be enabled after a database has already been created.

Once this setting is applied, all existing dates in the table will be automatically converted to the Hijri calendar format. For example Gregorian calendar date 1/1/2009, will be converted to Hijri calendar format as: 1/5/1430.  And, all new dates entered will automatically use the Hijri calendar format.

Hijri Calendar                   


The “Use Hijir Calendar” setting is saved along with the database. To use this setting for any new database, it needs to be set each time for each database. 


3. Using the Hindi Numerals

Hindi numerals can not be typed directly from any Right-to-Left language keyboard. To enter the Hindi numerals in Access, you can do the following in the Regional and Language Options of Windows:

  1. Click on the Formats tab

  2. Choose a Right-to-Left language under Current format. In this example, I am using Arabic (Saudi Arabia).

  3. Click on Customize this format… button

  4. Select Context from the Use native digits dropdown (this option is usually set by default for the Arabic language).

  5. OK

  6. OK

Windows Regional and Language Options Dialog 

Windows Customize Regional Options Dialog 

   Note that the screenshots above are taken from Windows Server 2008.  This dialogs could be slightly different in Windows XP and Windows 7.

Now, in Access tables, the Hindi numerals will be used for numbers typed after Arabic text.

For the Access forms, one more setting needs to be set to get the Hindi number. In the Form Layout View, select at any editing control –> right click and select Properties –> in the Property Sheet Pane, click on the Format Tab, scroll all the way down until you see “Numeral Shapes” –> select the “System” as the option –> switch back to the Form View mode.

 Hindi number

4. Right to Left Reading Order

Sometimes when working in the Form or Report view, especially in the Text field, it could be a little confusing if the user enters the text that’s mixed with Left-to-Right and Right-to-Left languages, for example English and Arabic.

To avoid this confusion, you can explicitly set the reading order of the field. In the Form Layout View, Right click at any Text field –> choose Property –> in the Property Sheet Pane, click on the Format Tab -> scroll down to “Reading Order” -> select “Left-to-Right”, “Right-to-Left” or “Context”.

In the snapshot below, you can see the difference of the reading order when the text field is set to “Right-to-Left” v.s. “Left-to-Right”. The sample text is typed in the same order - from left to right as Hello Reader ?????

 Reading order

If the Reading Order is set to “Context”, the reading order will follow the first language typed into the field.


5. Cursor movement

In the Access Options dialog, under Client Settings, Editing section there is one more setting that is specific to the Right-to-Left languages: Cursor movement.  Users can use it to set the direction of the cursor when they move the cursor among any Right-to-Left or non Right-to-Left text.

Access Options dialog: Cursor movement 

  • Visual Cursor movement - The cursor will move in the same direction as the characters shown on the screen

  • Logical Cursor movement -The cursor will move in the same direction as the typed bidirectional text.

Visual vs. Logical cursor movement

Once this setting is applied, it will apply to all the objects and any editing controls throughout the database, including the new databases.


Alas, that is enough wisdom for today.  Practice this well, and next time, I shall show you more tips and tricks. 

If you have questions or comment, leave a note below and I shall respond.

The Wizard

Oh, I must give credit to one of my apprentices, Sirirat Reinikka for assisting me in gathering this information for you. Sirirat works with the Office Global Experience Platform team as a Software Development Engineer in Test at Microsoft. Sirirat is originally from Thailand but she and her team work in Redmond, Washington, USA.  Sirirat and her team specifically focus on making sure the Office applications are ‘world-ready’! Assisting Sirirat with this article is her teammate Reda Elkhadiri, and her co-worker Aleksandar Jaksic in the Access team.


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Comments (7)

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  2. Ahmed aly says:

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  3. abdelkader 4004 says:

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  4. ArabicNumerals says:

    It’s called "ARABIC NUMERALS"!!!!!!!!!!! NOT hindi numerals… The numerals were formed by ARABS in india and not vice versa.

  5. mohammad says:

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  6. maryam says:

    thanks soooo much

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