Status quo:

Modern Arabic script does not allow breaking words or hyphenation for line breaks and paragraph justification, words are always to be kept whole.

No word break, no hyphenation:

No word break, no hyphenation

Desired outcome:

Just like old Arabic manuscripts, and without hyphenation, I would like the ability to automatically break words that have un-joined letters, just after the right joining letters (Alif, Dal, Dhal, Ra, Zay and Waw - أ - د - ذ - ر - ز - و). Example: موقف > مو / قف. Or anywhere in words that only have isolated letter forms, example: رزق, أزرق, ازدرى.

Broken words at line ends, no hyphenation:

Broken words at line ends, no hyphenation

Experiment description:

I'm working on an experiment on Adobe Illustrator with a large text (few hundreds pages) that is supposed to use the old way of Arabic line breaks (breaking words after those 6 right joining letters). Doing so manually will take for ages, by manually breaking words and adjusting the line breaks on the layout line by line.

Looking for:

Ways of bypassing/changing the existing rules/settings on Windows (or illustrator) preventing Arabic words from breaking in order to > allow breaking words for line breaks, without hyphenation

Leads so far:

• At some point I found a lead that Uniscribe might be the service on Windows that controls line breaks? Not sure though.

  • What you are looking is called "text segmentation", but I'm not sure you can tweak it for old style. Probably you should program it yourself. Or check other Unicode libraries (Uniscribe is one of shaper libraries probably it can do also segmentation, but there are much more).
    – Giacomo Catenazzi
    Apr 21 at 7:03
  • 1
    Probably Adobe Illustrator is not the best choice for this task. As far as I can tell Adobe InDesign can handle such tasks much better. In InDesign you can turn off hyphenation, set discretionary hyphen after any letter and get the desired hyphenations any time (not like in Illustrator where discretionary dashes are ignored as soon as you turn off the hyphenation checkbox). For example you can prepare the text parts of the work in InDesign and export these text blocks as EPS images. Actually, whenever you need to deal with a large amount of text/pages you have to consider to avoid Illustrator Apr 21 at 8:17
  • Zero width space (U+200B) seems to work to allow a line break, though it may mess up ligatures. (I don't read Arabic.)
    – Raymond Chen
    Apr 21 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


Raymond Chen in the comment section suggested the perfect workaround and it serves as a bypass, it allows my words to break without hyphenation at desired breaking opportunities (Right after أ - د - ذ - ر - ز - و).

I used the "find and replace" function on MS word, and replaced each one of those 6 letters with the same plus the "Zero Width Non-Joiner". (Technically inserting ZWNJ after each letter).

Example as follows:

Find: ر

Replace: ر^o

As for ligatures, they are not an issue, because the main target for Arabic ligatures are joined letters. So my line/word breaks (Zero Width Non-Joiner in this case) are all inserted after the 6 un-joined letters (these letters do not join on the left side where I insert the ZWNJ).

Inserting ZWNJ on MS Word: Find and replace > More > Special > Zero Width Non-Joiner.

Screenshot here

Thanks Raymond.


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