freeware, Japanese, software

Japanese Vertical Text … in Libre Office

While I don’t particularly have a preference for how words are written, I thought it would be nice to write Japanese vertically, for the sake of feeling authentic if nothing else. The real trick is actually finding an editor that supports vertical text, but it turns out LibreOffice allows it.

At the moment, I’m using Version: of Libre Office, so in the future, if things change, you’ll at least know what this applies to.

The trick is basically this: Go to the top menu and click Insert -> Frame. This should bring up a window with a number of tabs. On the “Options” tab, look for “Text-direction”, which should be a drop-down menu. From that menu, select “Right-to-Left Vertical”. Don’t worry about the English text rotating. I use Anthy for text input on Linux and the Japanese text appears upright.

The default Textbox option in LibreOffice won’t work. You have to insert a vertical text box. To do this, go to the top menu and click Tools -> Customize. A window with tabs should appear. Go to the tab that says “Toolbars”. For the “Standard” toolbar (usually the first to appear), scroll down the list of options/buttons until you see “Vertical Text”. Enable this by clicking the check box next to it. It says Asian language support must be enabled, so hopefully you’ve done that in advance. (Language support in Ubuntu and Mint can be changed in your computer’s Preferences app.) Hit “Ok” and you now have a Vertical Textbox option on your standard toolbar. For me at least, it was hidden to the far right, so I had to click the show-extra-options double-arrow icon on the right right to view it. The Vertical Textbox says “Vertical Text” with a sideways “T” next to it.

If you are looking to simply rotate text in general: create a text box, right click on the border of the text box and click “Position and Size” from the drop-down menu that appears. This should bring up a window with tabs, one of which is “Rotation”. Click that and you should see an input box with “angle” next to it. After you have set the angle, click “Ok”.

There is one bummer in all this: Exporting to html doesn’t preserve the orientation, at least not for Palemoon (Firefox). Vertical text in HTML has been a minor interest for browsers, even though I believe the W3C put something about it in the HTML5 standard, but who reads those docs anyways.

This post is inspired by the fact that if you try searching for editors that support vertical Japanese text, the results are crummy. LibreOffice isn’t mentioned on the front page, but I had a hunch it might have it since it’s such a feature-rich program. Kudos to the people who put it together.

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