STYLE GUIDELINES FOR SOFTWARE LOCALIZATION
What are “Style” Guidelines?
In addition to a glossary of the most common terms in a Microsoft product,
each language team should develop guidelines for the style to be used in all
parts of the product. Style guidelines cover issues such as choice of tone,
punctuation and capitalization rules, verb and noun forms, and other aspects
where two localizers could potentially make two different choices, thus
creating inconsistency in different parts of the product during localization. The
following guidelines are a practical resource for defining the right style for a
Style Guide Conventions
In this document, a plus sign (+) before a translation example means that
this is the recommended correct translation. A minus sign (-) is used for
incorrect translation examples. A question mark (?) denotes examples that
can be used but should be avoided if possible.
Examples of translations in this document are only intended to illustrate the
point in question and are not a source of approved terminology.
Recommended Reference Materials
1. Lao Grammar book developed by MAHASILA VIRAVONG in year 1960.
2. The current Lao Grammar Book developed by Ministry of Education in year
These sources are meant to provide supplementary information, background,
1. Lao Localization Project (www.laol10n.info.la )
2. Lao Lexical developed by Dr. Thongkham ONMANYSONE in year 1992
General Language Guidelines
Lao scripts originate from two sources Pali and Sanskrit and written Buddhist
prayer from Tong Pali. Lao alphabets have their roots with Sanskrit currently
used as communicative and from the Pali alphabet used in written Buddhism
prayers. The Lao scripts is composed of 78 characters and signs: 33
Consonants, 28 Vowels, 04 Tone marks, 03 Special symbols and 10 Lao digits.
The Lao scripts have 33 consonant letters including 27 single
consonants and 6 combined consonants.
1.1 27 single consonants are respectively
ກ(1); ຂ(2); (3); ຄ(4); (5); ຘ(6); ຆ(7); ງ(8); ຈ(9); ຉ(10);
ຊ(11); (12); ຌ(13); ຍ(14); ຎ(15); ຏ(16); ຐ(17); ຑ(18);
ຒ(19); ຓ(20); ດ(21); ຕ(22); ຖ(23); ທ(24); ນ(25); ບ(26);
1.2 Six combined consonants are as follows:
ນ(25) + ຄ(4) = ນຄ(28);
ນ(25) + ງ(8) = ນງ(29);
ນ(25) + ຌ(13) = ນຌ or ເ(30)
ນ(25) + ຓ(20) = ນຓ or ແ(31);
ນ(25) + ຖ(22) = ນຖ or ນຨ (32);
ນ(25) + ທ(23) = ນທ(33)
2. Vowels : Lao scripts has 28 vowels including 18 single and 10 compound
ຝ(1); ຟ(2); ມ(3); ຢ(4); ຣ(5); (6); ລ(7); (8); ສxຝ(9); ສ(10);
ຫxຝ(11); ຫ(12); ຬxຝ(13); ຬ(14); ສxຟຝ(15); ີ(16); ສມ(17);
ສຢ(18); ສພຩຝ(19); ສພຩ(20); ວທຝ(21); ວທ(22); ສຣບ(23); ສບ(24);
ຮ(25); ອ(26); ຠ (27); ສວຟ(28).
3. Tone mark
Tonal marks are another group of scripts letters which are symbols
characterizing the change of the sounds of a syllable to follow the
rule of consonants and vowel sounds with short, medium, low, high
tone. 4 tonal marks are characterized with the followings symbol:
ະ; ັ ; າ ; ຳ
4. Symbols or signs
Some symbols used in Lao language often have a certain meaning
and characteristic similarly to those which are used in English
language. But some may have different meaning such as: Indicating
repetition of syllable “ຯ”; Indicating and others (etc..) “ຜ”; Indicating
voice less of the final consonant of the word that borrowed from
other language“ິ ”
5. Lao digits: ື, ຸ, ູ, ຺, ົ, ຼ, ຽ, , , ຶ
Structure of writing Lao syllable:
Level 1: The character appearing in level 1 is of diacritic type. There
are five diacritic namely:
ະ; ັ; າ; ຳ and ິ
Level 2: Level 2 is occupied by superscript vowels only. The seven
vowels of level 2 are:
ພ; ວ. ມ; ຢ; ຣ; ; ີ
Level 3: This level is the main level of Lao word. There is always a
character at level 3 at each position in a Lao word. All thirty-three
consonants as well as the before and after vowels twelve and 2
special symbols are also at level 3. However some consonants and
vowels are also extended into level 2 and level 4 such as:
Consonants ດ; ຎ; ຒ; ຐ and before-vowels ຬx; ຮx; ອx are
exceeded into level 2
Consonants ຊ; ຆ; ຄ and symbol ຯ; ຜ are exceeded into level 4.
Level 4: The characters appearing in level 4 is lowered script vowels
and one mixed consonant. There are following symbols: “ລ; ; ຨ”.
Due to the four levels structure, the high and length of characters existed
in each level are not the same. If considering the character in the level 3
is main for compare then the size of character in level2 and level4 are
equivalent 50% of size of character in level3. And the size of character in
level1 is equivalent 50% of size of character in level2
The tone mark is used not just for the sound but it also changing the meaning
of the word for example: ຎຟ(fish) when we add the tone mark ” ະ “ will be
ຎະຟ (forest) and add tone mark ” ັ “ will be ຎັຟ (Aunt).
However, they never use the tone mark when writing the pronunciation of
foreign Language into Lao language (Transcription). In addition we are not
recommended using the High Consonant such as: ຏ; ຐ; ນ; for writing the
There is no need to identify the gender when translating the foreign language
into Lao language, if that word doesn’t specify the gender name. For example:
I= ຂັບງ; You= ສວັຟ; We= ຑທກສປວຟ; They=ຑທກສຂວຟ Can be used for as
male and female.
You are now
connected to the
The most famous references for Lao spelling as following:
Lao Grammar book developed by MAHASILA VIRAVONG in year 1960
Lao Lexical developed by Dr. Thongkham ONMANYSONE in year 1992
The current Lao Grammar Book developed by Ministry of Education in
The spelling in Lao Language consisted of 3 components as following:
1. Syllable check: It is based on the syllable rule
– Cannot have two tone marks in same syllable; e.g Mai Ek “
ະ” and Mai To “ ັ “
– Cannot have upper vowel and lower vowel in the same
syllable; e.g Sara U “ລ” and EE “ມ”
– Cannot have tone mark or alternate consonant with the
2. Word check: Word in Lao can be one single syllable or many syllables
(Maximum is 5 syllables); however, not all the single syllable or the
combine syllables have a meaning, estimate there are around 50,000
words frequently use in Lao language.
3. Grammar check: One should think that Lao is based tonal when
writing Lao language and is therefore is much different from English
language which based on the structure, for example:
– The position of “Possessive Pronoun” is always placing after
the verb or noun
Example: Your Work = ທຩກ (Work) ຂບຄສວັຟ (Your).
– “Verb” in Lao language do not change form when it changed
the tenses, therefore they input the word specified the
tenses in front of the verb, for example:
o Do = ສປພຈ
o Did = “ຮຈັ”ສປພຈ
o Doing = “ກີຟຖພຄ”ສປພຈ
o Will Do = “ຝ”ສປພຈ
o Have done = “ຮຈັ”ສປພຈ”ຘີຟສຖພຈ ”
The translation of preposition is necessary and it has the position order as in
the English sentence. However we can omit for translating the infinitive
sentence. For example:
– Memorandum of Understanding = ຍວຈຍພຌຣກທຟຓສຂວັຟອ (In this
case is not need to translate “of”).
– He is an employee of this center = ຖຟທຫຓະຌຑຝຌພກຄຟຌຂບຄຘຌຌຢັ (In
this case we have to translate the word “of” = “ຂບຄ”)
In Lao Language there is no upper case or lower case character (No
capitalization concept in Lao language).
The rules of using punctuation in Lao are similar as in English.
FULL STOP ແຟງັຠ (.)
Use FULL STOP ແຟງັຠ (.) for the end of sentence.
Use (.) for mark the groups of numerals (2.000.000)
Use (.) in metric systems (ຆຓ. is the abbreviation for centimeter).
COMMA ແຟງລຈ (,)
It is used to separate words, phrases or series of the numerator that have
flections. Usually Comma used to separate the series of number that have
more than two numbers
For example However, sentence1, sentence2.
Should be 1 ດະຟຄອຈກີະຉຟຓ + space + sentence1 + space + sentence2
For example When sentence1, sentence2.
Should be ສຓະບ + sentence1 + space + sentence2
However, we suggest putting translation in the same order as English if it
does not affect the meaning.
For example Update, Add, or Remove Data.
Should be ກຟຌຎພຍຎລຄ, ກຟຌສຑຢະຓສຉຢຓ, ນຨກຟຌຖຣຍຂີັຓຌ.
QUOTATION MARK ທວຄດຓ ("…")
It can be used the same way as in English.
HYPHEN ສະບຄແຟງຉີະ (-)
Be careful using hyphen in Lao language as the following reasons:
– The hyphen in Lao keyboard doesn’t interpret the minus keypad,
because it is placed in the different position compared with English
– It uses for interconnected between antonym words such
o Import and export: ຂຟສຂວັຟ-ຂຟບບກ
o GO and Back: ຮຎ-ກພຍ
PARENTHESIS ທວຄສຖພຍ ()
Use PARENTHESIS ( ) the same way as in English.
QUESTION MARK ແຟງຊຟຓ (?)
Use QUESTION MARK ແຟງຊຟຓ (?) the same way as in English. However
sometime they use the word “ຫຓະຌຍີະ or ຮຈັຍີະ or ຫຓະຌນງພຄ ”to
replace the (?).
COLON ຘບຄັຠ ( : )
We usually used colon in after of the word such as , ຮຈັຫກະ, ສຆພະຌ,
ສຆພະຌທະຟ, ຈພະຄຉີະຮຎຌຢັ, ຈພະຄຖລະຓຌຢັ for indicating the things of
SEMI COLON ັຠລຈ (;)
Use SEMI COLON (;) the same way as in English. However sometime they
use space replacing the SEMI COLON.
Repetition symbol ແຟງຆັຠ (ๆ).
Repetition symbol used when it has to write the same word again after
that original word.
Example: I visit Laos very often = ຂັບງຮຎຎຝສຈຖຟທສຖັບງຯ
And Any Other symbol ແຟງຫຖຝບະຌຯ (ຜຖຜ).
Use (ຜຖຜ) the same way of English “etc”
There are two concepts in making the word abbreviation in Lao Language as
– Using the first of one or two single syllable in the word
ຖພຈຊຝຍຟຌ : “ຖພຈ”
ຌຝບຌນຖທຄ : “ຌຝບຌ ”
– Using the First nuclear consonant from the first single syllable and
from the last single syllable of the word. Usually they use to insert
the back-slate “/” placing between the nuclear consonant.
ຎຝຆຟຆວຌ : “ຎ/ຆ”
ກຝຆທຄ : “ກ/ຆ”
Pick up the nuclear (initial) consonant of the first single syllable from each
word and combine into the acronyms word. Usually they use to insert the “.”
between the nuclear consonant. But in many cases they don’t use the period
ຘຟຟຖຝຌຝຖພຈ ຎຝຆຟມຎຝຮຉ ຎຝຆຟຆວຌ = ຘ.ຎ.ຎ or ຘຎຎ (the meaning is the
ບວຄກຟຌ ທມຝງຟຘຟຈ ສຉພກຬຌຬຖຆຢ ຫຖຝ ຘມະຄຫທຈຖັບຓ = ບ.ທ.ຉ.ຘ or ບທຉຘ (the
meaning is the same)
A trademark is a word, name, device, or phrase that has been adopted and
used to identify “brand” goods made by a company to distinguish these
products from goods produced or sold by others. In other words, the
trademark is the “brand name” that describes a generic class of goods. A
company can have many brands or even brand families. Microsoft has the
“Windows® family of products” including the Windows® XP operating system,
Windows® printing system, etc. At Microsoft the generic product or good is
called the “product descriptor”.
For a complete list of all Microsoft trademarks and descriptors, refer to the
Microsoft Trademarks List:
Copyright protection is granted to any original work of authorship fixed in any
tangible medium of expression from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or
Main GUI Components
(This refers to all menus, menu items, commands, buttons, check boxes,
Main menus are the menus that appear at the top of the user
interface. Main menus typically include File, Edit, View, Insert,
Format, Tools, Table, Window, Help
Typically, main menus should be noun or Infinitive or Conjugated
Menu Items and Commands
ຍພຌຆຢຖຟງກຟຌ ຫຖຝ ີຟຘພະຄ
Typically, commands and menu items should be Noun or Infinitive or
Undo … ຟຌຎ
Repeat …. ຆີັຟຌ
Past Special ທຟຄອຘະຑມສຘຈ
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Past as Hyperlink ທຟຄອຘະຢະສຆະບຓກພຍບພ
Select all ສຖບກແວຈ
Go to ຮຎຢະ
“Print more than one copy” = ຓ ຟງກະທຟເຣະຄຘີຟສຌວຟ
When translating dialog box interface you are expected to use consistent
terminology and language style in all dialog boxes and ensure that your
translations are consistent with translations in other localized applications.
Take also into account that some applications, currently not localized, may be
localized in the future and the same solutions adopted now will be re-used
later. This is particularly important when localizing identical dialog boxes
found in several applications. An example of a common dialog box containing
the same terminology is the Options dialog box on the Tools menu in the
Dialog Box Titles
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Dialog titles should be consistent with the menus items or menu
commands that call them. Typically, menus are infinitives, therefore
dialog titles should be infinitives.
UI Category English Translation
Menu Item Split cells ຫງກນັບຄ
Dialog Title Split cells ຫງກນັບຄ
Group Box Titles
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Typically, group box titles should be Noun or Infinitive Verb.
Printing Options ຟຄສຖບກກຟຌຑຢຓ
Typically, check boxes should be Noun or Infinitive Verb.
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Enable reminder ສຎມຈບພຌສຉບຌ
Don't show me this ນັຟຓຘຝສສຈຄຍວຈຘວຌຝຌຟຌມ
dialog again. ັຉີະຂັບງບຢກ
Always ask me first ຊຟຓຂບັງກະບຌລກພັຄ
Typically, buttons should be Noun or Infinitive Verb.
Continue -> ຘຣຍຉີະ ->
Dialog Box Tabs
Typically, dialog box tabs should be Noun or Infinitive Verb.
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Spelling & Grammar
Track Changes ກຟຌຎະຩຌຉຟຓ
User Information ຂີັຓຌຏັອຆັ
File Locations ຍະບຌດະສສຒັຓ
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Use parallel language for UI elements that are parallel in function,
such as lists and tables. Make sure to make all items:
o Similar in form.
o Use the same part of speech.
For example, make them all begin with an infinitive verb, or make
them all Noun/Gerund, or make them all imperative verbs.
Instruction Text In Dialog Boxes
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When a user is expected to take action on a page or in a section, use
Noun, Infinitives Verb.
Change settings for ຎະຩຌກຟຌຉພັຄະຟ
the files Outlook uses ຘີຟຖພຍຫຒັຓບຟທຖລກ
to store e-mail ອຆັສຑະບສກພຍ
messages and ຂີັທຟຓບຢສຓທ ຫຖຝ
Access Keys (also called Hot Keys)
Access keys or hot keys are a combination of keys such as ALT+F,
Ctrl+S, that move the focus to a menu, command, or control,
without using the mouse.
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Hot key special Usage: is it allowed?
such as i, l, t, r, f can N/A
be used as hot key
downstrokes, such as N/A
g, j, y, p and q can be
used as hotkeys
can be used as [N/A] N/A
An additional letter,
brackets after item [N/A]
name, can be used as
Example: Option (w)
A number, appearing
after item name, can [N/A] N/A
be used as hotkey
Example: Option (3)
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A punctuation sign,
brackets after item
name, can be used as
Example: Option (>)
List of characters suitable as hot keys
There never use the Lao character as the Hot Key.
Text Strings With Hot keys
These strings are easily recognizable because they have hot keys. They often
show up as names of buttons, commands, etc. and should be translated
according to rules for main GUI components.
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ToolTips have names that are identical to the commands or buttons they
represent. You should ensure that this consistency is maintained in the
localized software as well.
InfoTips are short sentences or sentence fragments that describe what an
item does or how it can be used.
For items that describe what the user can do with the item (one that
users can manipulate upon opening), use infinitives. This is the most
common type of InfoTip.
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Analyze items with a ທມສຟຝຖຟງກຟຌຈັທງຬຎຕຫກຕຓ
spreadsheet application. ຉຟຉຝຖຟຄກຟຌພຈກຟຌ
For items that have an automatic action (one that requires no user
manipulation) upon opening, use infinitives.
Opens the calendar. ສຎມຈຎຝຉມມຌ
Status Bar Messages
What Is A Status Bar Message?
A status bar message is information about the active document, a selected
command or any active selected interface item. The messages are shown in
the status bar at the bottom of the window when the user has chosen a menu,
a command or any other item, or has started a function. Some status bar
messages refer to actions being performed or already completed (for example
in Microsoft Internet Explorer).
Status Bar Messages Language Style
In English, the status bar messages have different forms dependent on the
information they must convey. In Lao, menu and commands status bar
messages should follow the format below.
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Categor English Status Bar
Name Lao Status Bar message
Edit ຫກັຮຂ menu ຍພຌລີຟຘພະຄຫກັຮຂ
to ອຘະ Copies the selected items ກະຟງຖຟງກຟຌຢະສຖບກຮຎ
Folder. ຉັສກພ to a new location ອຘະຍະບຌດະອແະ
New ອແະ Creates a new document ຘັຟຄສບກກຝຘຟຌອແະ
Make object visible
Word is converting the ຕ ຓ
ຬຎຫກຕ “Word” ກີຟຖພຄ
document. Press Esc to ຎະຩຌປຍສບກກຝຘຟຌ. ກວຈ
stop. ຎລະຓ ESC ສຑະບດລຈ.
Datasheet View ສຍມະຄຫຏະຌຂີັຓຌ
In the US product you can often find messages that are phrased differently
even though they have the same meaning. Try to avoid this in the localized
Lao version. Use one standard translation as in example below:
1. Press F1 to get Help: ກວຈ F1 ສຑະບປພຍກຟຌຆະທງ
2. If you want Help press F1: ຊັຟະຟຌຉັບຄຆະທງ ອນັກວຈ F1
3. To get Help press F1: ສຑະບປພຍກຟຌຆະທງອນັກວຈ F1
The most suitable for Lao is choice 1
What Is An Error Message?
Error messages are messages sent by the system or a program, informing the
user that there is an error that must be corrected in order for the program to
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keep running. The messages can e.g. prompt the user to insert a disk in the
disk drive, or inform of an error that requires rebooting the computer.
Error Messages Language Style
It is important to use consistent terminology and language style in the
localized error messages, and not just translate as they appear in the US
Error Messages Containing Placeholders
When localizing error messages containing placeholders, try to find out what
will replace the placeholder. This is necessary for the sentence to be
grammatically correct when the placeholder is replaced with a word or phrase.
Note that the letters used in placeholders convey a specific meaning, see
%d, %ld, %u, and %lu means <number>
%c means <letter>
%s means <string>
Examples of an error messages:
“Checking Web %1!d! of %2!d!” means “Checking Web <number> of
“INI file "%1!-.200s!" section” means “INI file "<string>" section”.
Standard Phrases In Error Messages
When translating standard phrases, standardize. Note that sometimes the US
uses different forms to express the same thing.
English Translation Example Comment
Cannot .. ຍີະຘຟຓຟຈ... Cannot open If the action is completed,
ຍີະຘຟຓຟຈສຎ then we add the word ຮຈັ
Could not .. ມຈຮຈັ either in front of the
infinitives verb or at the end
of sentence. If the action is
fail then we add the word
(no) in front of the
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Failed to .. .... It is not requiring translating
the preposition into Lao
Failure of .. language therefore it just
keeps the meaning of
If the action is completed,
Cannot find .. ຍີະຘຟຓຟຈຆບກນຟ then we add the word ຮຈັ
ຮຈັ... either in front of the
Could not find .. infinitives verb or at the end
of sentence. If the action is
Unable to find .. fail then we add the word
(no) in front of the
Unable to locate sentence
Not enough ທຟຓີຟຍີະຑີ Usually it adds the word
memory in front of adjective
There is not
There is not
.. is not available ..ຍີະຓຢ Usually it adds the word
.. is unavailable in front of adjective
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