I want to create a single book that contains English text (e.g. on pages 1-10) and an Arabic translation. Currently, the Arabic text starts on page 11 and ends on page 20, so the reading order is Western.

I want to use the Arabic reading order instead: the Arabic text should start on page 20 and the last Arabic text is placed on page 11.

Normally this is done by setting the 'binding side'. But that is a document-level setting. So I'd have to create a book file, containing one file for English (binding side=left) and one for Arabic (binding side=right). When I do that, what happens to the page numbering? Can I get a book with page numbers 1-20, or will it become 1-10 and then 20 19 18, making page 11 the first Arabic page?

  • I don't quite understand how you want the page numbering to look. Starting from a Western reading order, you want it to go 1, 2, 3… 9, 10, ????. Are you wanting the right-hand page opposite page 10 to be page 11 or page 20? Jul 14, 2017 at 17:21
  • I'd prefer the right-hand page opposite page 10 to be page 11. Currently investigating if we can do what the client wants, but I don't have the ME edition of Indesign myself so I can't check everything.
    – Hobbes
    Jul 14, 2017 at 17:37
  • Hopefully someone can provide the answer below, but in the meantime, the December 2016 issue of InDesign Secrets magazine was all about publishing in the Middle East. It may have some great advice for you--if you aren't a premium member of the site, I think there are options for purchasing a single issue. Take a look at it here: indesignsecrets.com/issues/issue-92-indesign-middle-east
    – magerber
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


This may or may not be useful, but if ME is not available, like what I had to deal with, you can do it the annoying way and manually change the type direction and reading direction and the dictionary. I had to do one page with a questionnaire and on one side was English and the other side was the Arabic equivalent. I had some problems with editing the Arabic text, which I copied and pasted in from someone who translated the material for me. It's tricky and not ideal, but could be helpful in a pinch. Also, maybe you have to do the Arabic in a separate document and then merge the two in Acrobat Pro. But page numbers are kind of arbitrary. Do you need to have the page numbers on the master page? You could just manually number the pages. Or you can make custom master pages that have separate numbering. The control panel for numbering and sections can probably also be useful for that.

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