In a right-to-left, top-to-bottom script (commonly shortened to right to left or abbreviated RTL), writing starts from the right of the page and continues to the left.
Arabic script is the most widespread RTL writing system in modern times. As usage of the script spread, the repertiore of 28 characters used to write Arabic language was supplemented to accommodate the sounds of many other languages such as Persian, Pashto, etc.
Several languages have both Arabic RTL and non-Arabic LTR writing systems. For example Sindhi is commonly written in Arabic and Devanagari scripts, and a number of others have been used. Kurdish may be written in Arabic, Latin, Cyrillic or Armenian script.
Hebrew, Syriac, and Mandaean (Mandaic) scripts are, like Arabic, derived from Aramaic and are written RTL. Samaritan is similar, but developed from Proto-Hebrew rather than Aramaic. Many other ancient and historic scripts derived from Aramic and inherited its right-to-left direction.
Chinese character, Hangul, and Kana was RTL, but now they become LTR in modern times.
Taana appeared around 1600 CE. Most modern artificial scripts are LTR, but the African scripts N'Ko (1949) and Mende Kikakui (C19th) were created in modern times and are RTL.
Ancient examples of text using alphabets such as Phoenician, Greek, or Old Italic may exist variously in left-to-right, right-to-left, or boustrophedon order; so it's not always possible to classify some ancient writing systems as purely RTL or LTR.
Examples of right-to-left scripts are:
- Current scripts
- Arabic script - used for Arabic, Persian, Urdu and many other languages.
- Hebrew alphabet - used for Hebrew, Yiddish and some other Jewish languages.
- Syriac alphabet - used for varieties of the Syriac language.
- Samaritan alphabet - closely related to Hebrew, used for the Samaritans' writings
- Mandaic alphabet - closely related to Syriac, used for the Mandaic language
- Thaana - used for Dhivehi.
- Mende Kikakui - for Mende in Sierrra Leone. Devised by Mohammed Turay and Kisimi Kamara in the late 19th century. Still used but only by about 500 people.
- N'Ko script - devised for the Manding languages of West Africa.
- Ancient scripts
- Phoenician alphabet - ancient, closely related to Hebrew and Imperial Aramaic
- Imperial Aramaic alphabet - ancient, closely related to Hebrew and Phoenician
- Lydian alphabet - ancient; some texts are left-to-right or boustrophedon
- Cypriot syllabary
- Kharosthi - an ancient script of India
- Old South Arabian
- Avestan alphabet
- Pahlavi scripts
- Old Turkic alphabet
- Old Italic alphabets - including Etruscan, Umbrian, Oscan
Right-to-left, top-to-bottom text is supported in common consumer software. Often this support must be explicitly enabled. For mixing right-to-left text with left-to-right text, see bi-directional text.
On the other hand, at present, handling of downward text is incomplete. For example, HTML has no support for it and tables are necessary to simulate it. However, CSS level 3 includes a property "writing-mode" which can render tategaki when given the value "tb-rl". Word processors and desktop publishing software have more complete support for it.
RTL Wikipedia languages
RTL Wikipedias according to bugzilla.wikimedia.org  are listed below:
- 'ar' => 'العربية', Arabic
- 'arc' => 'ܐܪܡܝܐ', Aramaic
- 'bcc' => 'بلوچی مکرانی', Southern Balochi
- 'bqi' => 'بختياري', Bakthiari
- 'ckb' => 'Soranî / کوردی', Sorani
- 'dv' => 'ދިވެހިބަސް', Dhivehi
- 'fa' => 'فارسی', Persian
- 'glk' => 'گیلکی', Gilaki
- 'he' => 'עברית', Hebrew
- 'ku' => 'Kurdî / كوردی', Kurdish
- 'mzn' => 'مازِرونی', Mazanderani
- 'pnb' => 'پنجابی', Western Punjabi
- 'ps' => 'پښتو', Pashto,
- 'sd' => 'سنڌي', Sindhi
- 'ug' => 'Uyghurche / ئۇيغۇرچە', Uyghur
- 'ur' => 'اردو', Urdu
- 'yi' => 'ייִדיש', Yiddish
Scripts that are written right-to-left according to the Unicode character database are listed here.
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