Arabic words SCRAMBLE on import

I know this has been discussed before, but I'm hoping to get some fresh perspective.

I am trying to bring in Arabic from a Word translation, but the order of the words is often scrambled. I have tried all I can think of to solve this, even cutting and pasting one line at a time from of Word into my Story file but that makes no difference. The problem is particularly acute when English product names are in the Arabic text string.

All Arabic (no English) text strings come in better, but I often have to toggle the RTL/LTR and play with left/right alignment to get it to look correct. 

I have tried Arial, Arial Unicode, MS Sans and all consistently produce the same results.

If I cut/paste from Word to PowerPoint, the text string looks correct. No scramble of word order. If I save the PowerPoint, then import it into SL, it scrambles as before.

Do I have to tell my client that translating to Arabic is not possible? They are a global company and every project goes into 20+ languages. They bought this software for "ease of translation"!

23 Replies
Matthew Smith

Hi, I'm also having the same problem with the order of the text when there is a mix of Arabic and English (for company names etc). I also find I have the same problem with numbers. When I use bullet points, they are always on the left even though I have rtl text in the settings. Please help, need this fixed asap. Is there any progress fixing this bug. Thanks

Charles Radanovich

I have pointed out in earlier posts the problems SL360 has when importing translations from Word. To recap, all line and paragraph spacing used in the original Story file is lost. All text strings default to single line and 0 paragraph spacing. I usually customize these settings for style and layout concerns. My client is a luxury education department with programs going out globally. They invested in their LMS and the Articulate software to have a better workflow than they’ve used in the past, replacing HTML and PowerPoint solutions.

I have just completed converting 6 modules with heavy text, triggers, quizzes etc into 18 languages. Because of what I outlined regarding spacing problems, much hand editing was involved. In fact, nearly every text object had to be changed. Each language has required, on average, 14 hours of labor to get the modules looking good. The majority of the languages were “western" but also a few were character-based like Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

That was all bad enough, but then I hit Arabic! Production time climbed to more than 30 hours. Right-to-left text, though supported, has a lot of bugs. What I see in Word is not what imports into Storyline.

As noted, English text (product names etc.) and numbers do not show within the text string as the client intended. Also as Matt pointed out, there seems to be no bullet support. One more quirk is that the same “out of order” phenom happens if any “bold” is in the text string.

My workaround for bullets was to insert a hyphen at the beginning of the line (on the right) although this didn’t always work reliably. I eliminate any bolded words. For the "out of order" words and numbers, I patched in the English as individual text objects within the Arabic text block. Sometimes I could create a blank area and drop the English into the string, but often I actually had to create “paragraphs" line by line. Sometimes a single line had multiple text objects when the English was interrupted by Arabic, then followed by more English.

All the while, working with characters I don’t understand, having to visually compare the Storyline slides to the Word document to be sure I was putting everything in the right order and trying to think right to left, except for the English. A nightmare.

Will these same problems manifest themselves in all right-to-left languages?

My client based their Articulate purchase decision, in part, on it's ease of translation. It was suggested to me that exporting to XLIFF format is more reliable than exporting to Word, but this is a non-starter for my client. The regional people responsible for translating from English are generally not professional translators and software decisions are made on a corporate level.

I think users deserve a realistic timetable for fixing these right to left bugs and the line/paragraph spacing issues as well.

Hoping for some good news...


Charles Radanovich

A follow up -- I made an export from English to XLIFF, opened in Swordfish, copied all the code and words to the translation column, pasted in the Arabic from Word, then saved.

When I imported into Storyline, the words were still scrambled if numbers or English were mixed in the text string.

Conclusion? Even if regional markets who use right to left text translate via a tool that supports XLIFF, the import into Storyline won't be without issues.

Alyssa Gomez

Hi Charles and Matthew,

I'm really sorry that words are still scrambled if numbers or English were mixed in the text string, even when using XLIFF for translation. I know this has been frustrating to deal with, to say the least. Our team is looking into this bug, and we'll certainly reach out as soon as we have more details to share on that.

David Price

Hi Charles, not sure if this will be of any help and I'm sure you have tried numerous different things by now.

I have been doing a lot of English to Arabic conversions over the past few weeks on multiple courses, and although I have run into a couple of bugs, generally the imports have all worked fine. 

This is our process of working:

  1. Export English to Word translation file
  2. Send the translation file to the client who inputs the translation into the column provided in the Word document
  3. Client sends it back.  We go into the Word document and change all the text in the translate column to Simplified Arabic font (we found numerous issues with other fonts in Arabic on iOS devices).  There is also an official font called Dubai if you need a good font to use.
  4. Import the document into SL360
  5. Do a manual check of all the content (make sure the Modern Font option in SL is turned off before you import, it has caused us so many problems with Arabic)

This works for us I would say 99% of the time.  The times where we have problems is where the client changes the formatting of the text in the translate column in the Word document.  If for example your font is size 18 when output from SL and the client changes it to size 14, then it will re-import at size 14. We had a nightmare with that in the first couple we did until we got the client to agree not to change things.

I don't know how our client is doing the translations but Word knows its right-left Arabic text before we import it, so not sure if that has anything to do with it.

Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Charles and David,

Update 28 of Storyline 360 was released yesterday, and as our team was continuing to test the issue where importing Arabic text translation into Storyline, the words are not in the same order as is it in the original Word file, we are no longer able to replicate it.

I wanted to check in with both of you to see if you were able to test out this latest update (Storyline 360, build 3.27.18822.0.) and can still reproduce the issue? If so, please let me know your exact steps (a Peek recording would help!) and I'll get those details to the team. 

Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Charles! 

Sorry for any confusion! We're no longer able to reproduce this issue using the sample files shared and our own files. Since this one was difficult to pin down, we wanted to have a few customers who ran into the trouble try it on the latest update and let us know what they see.

Can you install the update and let us know how it behaves?

David Price

So I actually imported a translation file into a new project the other day (before the software update) and the hyperlinked text didn't happen.  I won't have another one to do for a couple more weeks so can't test any new ones on the new updates.

One thing that did happen this time though is a lot of my text got messed up in Internet Explorer.  I have been using the same font as usual, Simplified Arabic, and never had problem with it before, but for some reason now it is messing up the text, so I have had to change it all to the Dubai font which seems to have rectified the issues.

I will update you the next time I do a translation.

Charles Radanovich

Hi Ashley, I've imported a Word translated doc into a Storyline file.

The problem of placing the words out of order when mixing English names into Arabic text strings seems to have been fixed.

I have found a couple of  issues I can bring to your attention.

Bulleted text strings within a paragraph look mis-aligned though this can be fixed by turning bullets on/off and playing with the indentations.

When there is an English name with a TM at the end, the main words read correctly, left to right within the right to left Arabic text string; but the TM shows at the far left of the English.

In other words, in Word it looks like this "English Product NameTM" but after importing into Storyline it looks like this "TMEnglish Product Name" (tm in superscript).

You can retype it in by hand in the correct position and change to superscript (although it looks really small) but if you try inserting it as a symbol, it pops to the far left of the English as described above.

I may be wrong, but if the entire English phrase is supposed to read left to right within the Arabic paragraph, I would expect the TM to appear to the right of the English word it relates to.

Glad this problem is being worked on!


Leslie McKerchie

Hello David and Matthew,

We just released another update for Articulate 360, and included a few important fixes that you'll see in the release notes here

The item you'll be interested in is:

Right-to-left text could be out of sequence after importing a translation file.

Just launch the Articulate 360 desktop app on your computer and click the Update button for Storyline 360. Details here.

Please let us know if you have any questions, either here or by reaching out to our Support Engineers directly.