Challenges in Publishing with Non-Roman Scripts
Lorna A. Priest, Non-Roman Publishing Systems Developer, SIL International, USA

Intended Audience: Content Developers, Software Engineers, Font Designers, Graphic Designers, Technical Writers

Session Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

The process of typesetting books is more complex than "just" having the right encoding for specific characters. This paper will address technical and design challenges which can often be found in publishing of texts using non-Roman scripts. It is by no means exhaustive, but is intended as a starting point for those who are interested in the area of publishing.

Included are examples of a potentially unending list of design issues that the typesetter needs to be conscious of. Rather than simply following instincts that derive from another script (typically Roman), and culture (typically Western), one needs to learn culturally appropriate ways to handle these design issues. With the advent of computers some changes have occurred within scripts, probably because of the difficulties of implementing a particular script behaviour. While the typesetter may choose to diverge from traditional typesetting standards for a particular script, it should be done carefully and with good reason.

Overall page design is not something discussed much but certainly varies depending on the script. There are also a number of technical challenges when it comes to actually implementing a design. Besides issues of directionality there are issues of hyphenation, line breaking (including justification), column behaviour, what ordered lists and whether headers, footers, and footnotes should be horizontal or vertical.