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There's some Japanese text that I'm memorizing, and I want to print it out on a piece of paper so I can tape it to my wall. Sounds like a plan!

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. First of all, the text is written vertically (top-to-bottom, right-to-left), and I want my copy to look that way, too. Second, it has furigana (which are not quite a dealbreaker for me but would be really nice to have).

I can type the text (kanji and kana, separately, anyway) into a text editor just fine. I just don't know how to go about getting it from a plain text file into a nicely-laid-out page description. I was almost tempted to start throwing HTML tables together, but then I realized that Japanese punctuation changes form slightly when written vertically.

I have almost no other requirements. It can be an obscure old command-line tool that does nothing but lay out Japanese text vertically, or a shiny new whizzy-bang app. It can be open-source or proprietary. I'm afraid it can't be expensive (I have no budget for this) but I do have access to MS Word here if that helps. It can be some fancy HTML that only works in one specific browser, as long as that browser can print it correctly to a sheet of paper. It can run on Mac, Linux, or Windows. I'll probably trash the bits as soon as I've printed it so longevity and portability are not concerns.

I suppose the tool should also be somewhat efficient to use. I know I could lay out each character individually in Inkscape but it might take me a couple hours to do one page!

I've looked briefly at MS Word, OpenOffice, TeX, and HTML (with various browsers), and I can't figure it out. I've found partial solutions/tutorials on the web -- Japanese with furigana is common enough -- but nothing that quite covers all my needs -- vertical writing is apparently somewhat rare.

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3 Answers 3

There is a fancy tool, and you have it installed already: Microsoft Word

First follow the directions in here:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/about-creating-a-japanese-document-HP003089532.aspx

The important part is the second item: adding Japanese in the MS Office Language Settings (don't worry if you have only "limited support", the layout features still work).

Restart Word and you now have a couple of new options for asian text editing! Go to Page Layout and select text direction -> vertical.

Furigana can be added with the Phonetic Guide function: http://thejapanesepage.com/fun/furigana_in_word

Just tried it out on Win7+Word2007, pretty cool actually!

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I came across a solution to this! In Chrome, use CSS -webkit-writing-mode: vertical-rl;.

It handles punctuation variants just fine. It even handles the <ruby> tag (furigana) correctly. Most importantly, it prints correctly!

There are a few oddities. Selecting text leaves white areas on the page. When setting margins and spacing, it seems like sometimes "left" means "left" and sometimes it means "up", but that's nothing that can't be figured out by trial-and-error. It's not perfect but it's totally usable.

It doesn't work in Safari 5, and the obvious -moz- variant doesn't work in Firefox 4.

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If you are using Xiosis Scribe:

  1. Go to the layout view
  2. Select the text
  3. Open the Alignment and Spacing
  4. Set orientation to top to bottom and right to left
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