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« World-​Ready Composer in Adobe CS4

This is a guide to options and tools for laying out global text in the CS4 versions of InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. None of them are obvious or documented in the regular versions of the application, but there are a dizzying variety of options: templates; scripts; InDesign plug-​ins; and special “ME” versions of applications. Prices range from free to more expensive than the base version of the application. This will help you figure out which might be right for your needs, and even provide some basic tools to help you get started, if your needs are not too extensive.

Why would you even need something special for global text layout? For most basic left-​to-​right languages, if the fonts you are using have all the right glyphs, the regular version of the Adobe application will do an adequate job out of the box. However, many left-​to-​right languages of south and south-​east Asia (such as Thai, Lao and the Indic languages) require additional language-​specific processing to get the right glyph output given the incoming character stream. Many Indic languages assemble multiple characters into a single visual “cluster” (sort of like a syllable), using complicated shaping rules. Some languages, notably Thai and Lao, do not even have spaces between words, and therefore need special dictionaries just to get correct line breaking. Then there are right-​to-​left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, which require further capabilities. (Note that InDesign added Thai layout functionality in its regular composition engine back in CS3, although with some limitations.)

Standards such as Unicode only provide a framework around which such additional processes must be built—they don’t provide the code. Winsoft has long offered special “ME” versions of Adobe applications (with full support for Arabic and Hebrew, though not the Indic or other Asian languages), but none of this functionality was in the standard versions of Adobe’s Creative Suite applications before CS4.

One cool thing Adobe did in the Creative Suite 4 product cycle was to work on global text support across several products, including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. The CS4 versions of these apps have an alternate composition engine, the World-​Ready Composer, which enables support for “complex script” languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, and the Indic languages. One of the goals of this move was to unify file formats and code between western, CJK, and ME versions of the applications. But unless you have an ME version of an application, the World-​Ready Composer isn’t directly accessible in the CS4 applications as shipped.

Why not? Well, the World-​Ready Composer was not fully tested and debugged, and hyphenation dictionaries and spell checkers aren’t available for the extra languages. Therefore, the World-​Ready Composer is neither documented nor officially supported by Adobe in CS4, and no user interface was provided for the added features in the apps (like selecting the composer, or choosing right-​to-​left text). Although many people assume this work will be finished in CS5, the last time I checked Adobe was making no promises as to when these capabilities will be finished and formally released.

Native CS4 Capabilities

Now, the capabilities above might seem not very useful, but there are several handy things one can do with the CS4 versions of these applications, right off the bat:

Options for More Support

There are many ways to get more access to the World-​Ready Composer than you get out of the box with the CS4 applications. Further details on each are in the sections below. In order of increasing functionality, they are:

FontShop has a nice explanation of the various right-​to-​left features and related functionality in InDesign ME; it was written for CS3, but is equally applicable to CS4.

Also, if you want to use the World-​Ready Composer for Indic languages, Thai, Lao, or others not mentioned previously, be aware that none of these solutions (not even the ME versions, to date) offer spell checking or dictionaries. However, there are some third-​party solutions, notably MetaDesign’s SpellPlus for spell-​checking some of the Indic languages (currently only for InDesign CS2 and CS3, $149).

Languages (Writing Systems)

Which languages are enabled by the World-​Ready Composer? Currently, there are two tiers. First, these writing systems have been implemented, but not fully tested:

These additional writing systems have been at least partially implemented, but not tested:

Because it’s only the UI that is missing in regular InDesign CS4, documents created using special plug-​ins, scripts, or templates should be fine to open and print from InDesign CS4 (as much as they are with the plug-​ins, anyway). It’s just that the UI for changing things is lacking—editing is possible, for sure, but control over right-​to-​left directionality vs left-​to-​right may be troublesome, and access to tweak additional options (like numbering styles) is lacking.

Limitations of CS4 Apps Not Using ME Versions

These limitations apply to anything one does with the templates, scripts and plug-​ins.

Issues affecting all CS4 applications:

InDesign-​specific issues:

Templates for ID, Ai & PS

Unfortunately, Photoshop CS4 doesn’t expose the World-​Ready Composer to scripting or plug-​ins, and Illustrator CS4 exposes the APIs to plug-​ins (only), but nobody has made anything for Illustrator yet. But these two applications do open documents from their ME counterparts, which makes it possible to get the World-​Ready Composer and/​or RTL text active by opening existing documents with appropriately-​formatted text blocks and using copy-​paste to transfer the text to new documents. You can also copy-​paste text between Illustrator and Photoshop and it retains the World-​Ready composer and paragraph direction formatting from one to the other.

Where would you find a document to get at such text? Here are some template documents to get you started, for all three major Adobe applications (see below for the template license terms: by downloading these templates you are agreeing to the terms below):

Note the styles used in the InDesign document. If opening the template gives a missing plug-​in warning, just dismiss it.

The templates are a nice option for InDesign folks who don’t want to mess with scripts, and the only option short of an ME application for people needing this functionality in Illustrator or Photoshop.

InDesign Scripts & Scripting

Here are some simple scripts, which you may download under the license terms below (don’t download unless you read and agree to the terms). These scripts can help anybody access both the World-​ready Composer and basic right-​to-​left text features for a few sentences or paragraphs. Anybody can use InDesign scripts that are already written, and it is not hard to make minor edits as well. These scripts, by Peter Kahrel, with some minor additions and edits from me, are written in JavaScript, and should work on both Mac and Windows versions of InDesign CS4. Any errors or glitches were probably introduced by me, however. 🙁

All the scripts in the set start with the “r2l” name so they will sort together.

Note: The scripts linked above are ready to be installed. If you were taking a script which wasn’t already a separate file, you would copy the script into a plain text file, and save it giving it an appropriate extension: .applescript, or .jsx for JavaScript or .vbs for Visual Basic/​VBScript. AppleScript and VBScript are for Mac and Windows, respectively, while JavaScript is cross-​platform.

Follow these simple rules for how/​where to install InDesign scripts:

If you want to install scripts for all users on the computer, put them here:

If you want to install scripts only for a single user, put them here:

If you want to edit these scripts or write your own, you’ll benefit from some reference material:

End-​User License for Scripts & Templates

The scripts and templates (“Software”) provided above are licensed to you under a BSD-​style open source license, as described below.

Copyright 2008, 2009, Peter Kahrel & Thomas Phinney.
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

This Software is provided “as is” and any express or implied warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose are disclaimed. In no event shall Thomas Phinney or Peter Kahrel be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including, but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort (including negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use of this Software, even if advised of the possibility of such damage.

InDesign Plug-​ins Available

As discussed on, some third parties have already taken advantage of the scripting and plug-​in access, and released plug-​ins which give a UI for the World-​Ready Composer in InDesign:

There are several notable differences between current versions of World Tools and idRTL. Broadly, World Tools has more functionality, and idRTL has a more convenient interface. As both products are in active development, one might expect improvements and new features to be added to each, but some further differences are:

Broadly speaking, the plug-​ins offer a significant degree of functionality in InDesign CS4. If you are doing entire documents in right-​to-​left or complex scripts, and you don’t need the additional features and bug fixes of InDesign CS4 ME, then the plug-​ins may be your best choice. If a document was created using a plug-​in, opening it without the plug-​in may yield a warning, but the document should be fine.

Bugs & Comments

I am not offering technical support for the scripts and templates, nor for Adobe products. However, I may fix bugs in the scripts and templates, and I welcome discussion of them in comments to this post. Note that Adobe does not officially support the World-​Ready Composer in CS4, so I am taking bug reports and problems on the composer itself as comments to a separate post, to make sure Adobe engineers have a place to go to see such reports in one place.


If your needs are basic, the free templates and scripts provided here might do the trick, even for Photoshop and Illustrator. If your concern is strictly InDesign, the idRTL plug-​and WorldTools plug-​ins offer a bunch more functionality at bargain prices. For folks doing serious work in Arabic or Hebrew, including Photoshop and Illustrator, the ME versions of Adobe applications are the way to go, particularly if you need the built-​in dictionaries.

Special thanks to: Peter Kahrel, Harbs, Steven Bryant, and Diane Burns for blazing the way in how to tackle these problems, and reviewing this article. Extra-​special thanks to all the engineers at Adobe who did the hard work that made this possible, and shared their expertise with me when I worked at Adobe, including Joe, Margie, Eric, Zak and Niti. Finally, I’d like to thank the good folks at WinSoft who created the foundations this is all built on: I don’t know any of you so well, but without you this wouldn’t be here.

Revision history:

72 commentsto “World-​Ready Composer in Adobe CS4

  • January 24, 2012
    SP wrote

    I have a InDesign file with Kannada Unicode fonts (Tunga). With WRC, rendering in InDesign is OK. However, when the file is exported as EPUB, the EPUB does not render correctly in Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). There seems to be issue in characters composition (Unicode normalization?). It renders correctly in Calibre. Does ADE have any known issues in rendering Kannada Unicode fonts?

  • February 2, 2012
    Appaji Ambarisha wrote

    Thank you Thomas Phinney. I tried indesign world ready template in windows platform using Telugu font developed by me and it’s working excellent. Unfortunately I couldn’t able to get it work for me on Mac OSX. Do we need to have separate templates for both platforms? Can you guide me?

    [Nope, the same doc should work on both platforms. Adobe’s OpenType infrastructure is completely cross-​platform as well, so I am a bit puzzled as why you would see any difference, assuming you have the same version of InDesign on both sides. Perhaps someone else can advise? — T]

  • May 27, 2012
    Husni Tawil wrote

    Great!!!!!!!! thanks a lot. now I can use arabic

  • May 29, 2012
    Nirmit wrote

    How to implement hindi fonts in CS4???
    When i used the installed fonts namely MANGAL font it showed incorrect spellings.

    Actually i had made a word document and wanted to take the word document’s print on 3 x 4 foot board.Thus the text in the document spreads out on the board.So i used it in CS4 but i am suffering from font spelling mistakes….Please help me

  • September 8, 2012
    Gelek wrote

    Thank you very much, now i can use many tibetan fonts in indesign

  • October 31, 2012
    Konchok Tamphel wrote

    Hello Friends,
    I am pretty new to InDesign. I am having problems making Tibetan Unicode Fonts, (Microsoft Himalaya etc) properly render in InDesign CS5. Some expert says in the forum that I need to Turn of WRC. How to do that. Please anyone give me a step by step instruction.

    Thanks you, thug je che

  • November 1, 2012
    Thomas Phinney wrote

    First, I have difficulty imagining that would be the right solution, unless you are achieving Tibetan functionality through some other means that you have not mentioned. Even then, it is likely functioning “on top of” the WRC rather than “instead of.”

    That being said, if you are trying to turn it off…. The World-​Ready Composer is off by default in “normal” versions of InDesign. If you have some text with it on, you could paste it as plain text into a new text frame.

    You could get somebody to write a script for you to turn it off on an existing paragraph or text block. Anybody with basic scripting knowledge could likely do this if they started with one of the scripts I make available on this page that turns it on.

    Good luck!

  • November 22, 2012
    Emma wrote

    Thanks for this article! I’m doing a book project in InDesign CS5.5, and would need to be able to type Hebrew right to left. I have the regular Adobe InDesign program, not ME version. I’m okay with typing hebrew backwards, however my problem is that I have to be able to copy hebrew text from Microsoft Office Word into my InDesign document, and it should appear the correct way once copied.
    So firstly, I’m not finding the links to the free scripts which are written about in the article. The script titles (?) are written out, however how do I get the actual scripts? Secondly, would this enable me to copy text from Word to InDesign without a problem? (I’m trying to get around this without spending $…)

    Thanks a lot,

  • December 7, 2012
    Chris wrote

    Emma – you might need to spend a few $ on one of the plugins that allow CS5.5 to do this. Try ScribeDOOR or World Tools.
    sirhC ,sdrageR

  • January 13, 2013
    Konchok Tamphel wrote

    i used your World-​Ready Composer in InDesing to render Tibeta text. I worked perfectly. Thanks a lot. However, I not able to render Tibetan text properly in Illustrator CS5 and Photoshop CS5. Can you give me a link and instructions to fix this? Thanks a lot

    Konchok Tamphel

  • January 30, 2013
    Maged Rawash wrote

    Just thanks for help >>>

  • February 8, 2013
    SheYao wrote

    Big Big Help!

    God Bless

  • July 23, 2013
    Ritchie Sieradzki wrote

    Hey, just wanted to say the the RTL template for Illustrator was a huge help, thankyou very much.

  • December 2, 2013
    Alinspired wrote

    Hi everyone.

    Thank you Margaret for linking to my post

    However for those of you who tried to see it the link has been changed it is now

    also its on



  • March 24, 2015
    Mohammad Edrees wrote

    Thank you there

    It helps alot

    Great job

  • June 11, 2015
    Claire wrote

    Thank you! I’m keeping that PSD on hand 🙂

  • December 17, 2016
    Maggie Taurick wrote

    Wow, thanks so much for this – I’d been searching all over for a solution to the issue of backwards Hebrew text when designing a flyer in Illustrator for a client, and couldn’t find a solution until I came across your tool! Thank you so much!

  • July 13, 2017
    Amalia wrote

    Thank you so much!!

  • August 14, 2017
    Shishir wrote

    Sorry but I am new for Photoshop.
    I am using Adobe photoshop CS6 right now and I am also facing the incorrect spells for my devnagari fonts. And in many blogs there all people saying that using Adobe World-​Ready Composer, the problem can be solved but I tried that on mine. but there is no option to choose Adobe World-​Ready Composer in (Paragraph Style >Justification > Composer) there is only option of Adobe single-​line composer and Adobe every-​line composer. And there is option to load composer. What should I do now to use WRC now. plz plz help me…

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How to use right to left languages in illustrator : AlinspiredThe Typekit Blog | How to enable more languages in InDesign CS5.5visual composer templates |