The contents of a field in a MARC 21 record in either the MARC-8 or the Unicode environment are recorded in their logical order, from the first character to the last, regardless of the directionality of text.  Although most scripts display characters from left to right, some scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew display characters primarily from right to left.  More information on handling bidirectional text is found in Part 2 for MARC-8-encoded MARC 21 records.  For MARC 21 records using the Unicode encoding consult the Unicode Standard, Annex #9:  The Bi-Directional Algorithm.

NOTE:  When bidirectional scripts were first permitted in MARC, numerous records were created with the embedded sections of left-to-right data entered in visual rather than logical order.  This is no longer considered good practice.

Left-to-right field orientation is the default for fields in MARC 21 records.  No designation of field orientation is required for character sets with left-to-right orientation.  When a field contains data whose orientation is from right to left, orientation is indicated with a field orientation code appended to subfield $6 (Linkage).  (See MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data, Appendix A, subfield $6).

The decision to designate the field orientation as right-to-left depends on the predominance of data in a script that is read right-to-left at the field and/or the record level.  A field may contain a mixture of scripts.  Right-to-left field orientation is usually designated in the following instances:

when a field contains only or mostly data in a right-to-left script

when a field contains data in both a right-to-left and a left-to-right script, but the preponderance of data in other fields is right-to-left

in order to maintain consistency among fields constituting the "body" of a bibliographic entry (2XX, 3XX, and 4XX fields)

To return, select:

Part 1:  General Character Set Issues

Character Sets and Encoding Options