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Using iTextSharp to correctly display Hebrew / Arabic text (Right to Left) in a PDF Document


iTextSharp is a useful library for creating PDF documents in .Net. However because of the right to left nature of Hebrew and Arabic texts, adding them to the document normally through iTextSharp renders them unreadable.
Lets take a look at how we can solve this problem.

Download iTextSharp here

Please read the comments to guide you through the code.


using iTextSharp.text;
using iTextSharp.text.pdf;
using System.Text.RegularExpressions;
using System.IO;
using System.Diagnostics;

void WriteDocument() {
  // Declare a itextSharp document
  Document document = new Document(PageSize.A4);

  // Create our file stream and bind the writer to the document and the stream
  PdfWriter writer = PdfWriter.GetInstance(
      document, new FileStream(@"C:\Test.Pdf", FileMode.Create));

  // Open the document for writing

  // Add a new page

  // Reference a Unicode font to be sure that the symbols are present.
  BaseFont bfArialUniCode = BaseFont.CreateFont(
      @"C:\ARIALUNI.TTF", BaseFont.IDENTITY_H, BaseFont.EMBEDDED);
  // Create a font from the base font
  Font font = new Font(bfArialUniCode, 12);

  // Use a table so that we can set the text direction
  PdfPTable table = new PdfPTable(1);
  // Ensure that wrapping is on, otherwise Right to Left text will not display
  table.DefaultCell.NoWrap = false;

  // Create a regex expression to detect hebrew or arabic code points
  const string regex_match_arabic_hebrew = @"[\u0600-\u06FF,\u0590-\u05FF]+";
  if (Regex.IsMatch("מה קורה", regex_match_arabic_hebrew,
                    RegexOptions.IgnoreCase)) {
    table.RunDirection = PdfWriter.RUN_DIRECTION_RTL;

  // Create a cell and add text to it
  PdfPCell text = new PdfPCell(new Phrase("מה קורה", font));
  // Ensure that wrapping is on, otherwise Right to Left text will not display
  text.NoWrap = false;

  // Add the cell to the table

  // Add the table to the document

  // Close the document

  // Launch the document if you have a file association set for PDF's
  Process AcrobatReader = new Process();
  AcrobatReader.StartInfo.FileName = @"C:\Test.Pdf";


We used a regex expression to detect if the text was Hebrew or Arabic and then set the .RunDirection of the PdfpTable or PdfPCell accordingly.
Ensure that .NoWrap is set to false on the default cell of the table and any cells that you may create manually, if wrapping is turned off the right to left text will not be displayed.

This article is part of the GWB Archives. Original Author:  Jayd Page

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