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Reading Urdu on this Blog (and on the Web)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This page contains some general help for viewing and reading Urdu on computers and the Web, and some specific help just for this blog. You can leave any queries/comments/rectifications in the comment box below, and I’ll try to answer as quickly as possible.

You might also want to check the page on writing Urdu.

Some general tidbits

Reading Urdu on the Web is most usually a matter of installing the correct fonts. (Some good fonts are available here.) Of course, you must already know how to read Urdu text, or otherwise you’ll end up submitting a comment like this or this!

Also, please use a modern and standards compliant web browser. I recommend Mozilla Firefox.

A general font installation guide for Windows is available here.


Sometimes, the problem may not be the missing fonts but the character set encoding. This is usually the case when the text doesn’t even remotely resemble anything like Urdu, but garbage like بینØ.

If that is the case, you need to select the proper encoding for your web browser. In Firefox 3.0+, it can be done by selecting View > Character Encoding > Unicode (UTF-8).

For this blog

This blog employs webfonts (using the @font-face CSS rule) for rendering Urdu text.

What this means is that the desired Urdu font (which is Nafees Nastaleeq) is downloaded from this blog’s server and your web browser then uses it for displaying Urdu in its complete nastaleeq glory. Depending upon your web browser, you may see a “flash of unstyled text” before the font is fully downloaded and used. (A note for Google Chrome users: Chrome does not yet support the required shaping tables for nastaleeq, so it won’t show it.)

In case that the font fails to download and/or display for some reason (like in Google Chrome), this blog’s stylesheet will fall back on “back-up” fonts. These are (in that order):

  1. Nafees Web Naskh
  2. Urdu Naskh Asiatype (the same used by BBC Urdu)
  3. Tahoma

Since these fonts will not be downloaded from anywhere to be used on this blog, you need to have them installed in your computer. Hopefully, you will not need them for viewing Urdu on this blog, but it’s generally a good idea to download and install them anyway.



Jun 5, 2006 at 4:24 pm

Love this post

Aidan Kehoe

Apr 2, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Chances are that you have arrived on this page because you were having trouble with Urdu on this blog. And that’s not good, you know. Not good at all.

So here’s what you need to do.

Of course, some benighted souls can’t read Urdu on paper either, so your instructions don’t help us ;-) . Excellent blog, by the way!

[Edit by Saadat: The text that is quoted by Aidan in his comment is from an earlier version of this page.]


Apr 4, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Aidan Kehoe: My deepest apologies to those “benighted” souls :D . And thanks for liking the blog!


Feb 26, 2009 at 5:47 am

I have trouble reading Urdu frequently (from US!) so for now i’m just skipping those posts. :( kindda sad cause your a very interesting guy [and i don’t really wanna miss a post)…i have just started reading your blog so it’s okay u take forever to put up a new one (:))
anyhow…thx for the help. Soon i’ll learn urdu well enough! (trip to Pak is planned soon!) :D


Feb 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Good luck with your Urdu learning plans! (By the way, I’ve removed the [w:ur ] tags around your name. They were designed to work with Urdu script.)

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