Generating Arabic (Hindi) "Curly" Numbers in Word


Note: The number forms were corrected on March 9, 2009

As I mentioned in my previous entry "Formatting Arabic Numbers", most Arabic documents include Western style "straight" numbers like 1,2,3 by default instead of "curly" Middle Eastern numbers like ١,٢,٣, but you can configure Word to generate the correct numbers.

FYI - The curly (or calligraphic) style are actually called "Hindi numbers" in Arabic, while "Arabic" numbers refer to the straight Western style (vs. older Roman numbers like I,II,III).

Note: The "Hindi" numbers used an India (i.e. Devanagari) do not match the "Hindi" forms used in Arabic writing. (Thanks to Eric Verlind for pointing this out).

Word 2007 (thanks to Katia Zakharia for details)

  1. Make sure you have activated an appropriate Arabic, Persian or other regional keyboard in the Windows Control Panel
  2. Open Word 2007, then click the circular Office icon in the upper left.
  3. In the new window, click the Word Options button in the lower right corner.
  4. Click Advanced in the left menu.
  5. Scroll to the Show document content section then look for the Numeral menu.
  6. Choose Context in the Numerals menu then close the window
    Note: Do not choose "Hindi" as your option unless you want this style in all documents (including English).
    Screen capture of numeral settings

  7. In the Word document, when you switch to an Arabic keyboard, numbers will be in the Hindi style.

Word 2003 for Windows

Instructions are available from Scroll to section 8c.

Macintosh NeoOffice (from their support forum)

A similar option is available in the free open source NeoOffice package.
  1. Open NeoOffice, then click Preferences in the NeoOffice menu.
  2. In the Preferences panel, click the arrow to the left of Language Settings to view additional options. Click the Languages link.
    Screen capture of NeoOffice Language Preferences
  3. Check the option for Enabled for complex text layout. A new link on the left called Complex Text Layout.
  4. Click the new Complex Text Layout link in the left.
  5. In the Numerals select Hindi.

Macintosh Word 2004

I am not aware of a similar tool in Word 2004 for the Mac. I was able to create some Auto Correct text which replaces "\3\" with ٣.

The only other option it to tweak the Region settings in System Preferences, but that affects every application.

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I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage ( for a profile.


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