I have seen in several places now, Arabic script, flowing not only from right to left, but also, simultaneously, from top to bottom, especially within the spelling of a single word, and especially when involving letters such as ج، ح، خ، and م.

Anyone know what the technical term for this type of "ligature" is called (both in Arabic, but also in other languages, if it does take place in the writing of scripts from other languages as well)?


These images for محمد are the closest to this stacking "design phenomenon" I am arresting in this post that I could find. (In particular, not how the م is stacked on top of the ح, which is in turn stacked ibn to of the م below).

محمد image I

محمد image II

  • 1
    Have you got a picture of this?
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 15, 2016 at 3:44
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    Wish I did. The book that had such picture went missing, but I think skilled searchers can find such pictures Im on the Internet, just not s sure how to search for then as it would be images, not Unicode text I believe, although I'm not sure about it. I would be happy if someone cited do a skilled search and contribute. Oct 15, 2016 at 13:19
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    arabic flowing left to right is not even possible. you'll have to show an example.
    – mobileink
    Oct 15, 2016 at 23:06
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    That was a typo. I've updated my post. Oct 16, 2016 at 2:54
  • Your examples just look like Arabic calligraphy. Is that all you're asking about? I thought you meant that these ligatures were being used in running text.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 16, 2016 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


It doesn't have a special name. It is the correct way to write Arabic. But if you are looking for a name, "stacking" is as good as any.

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    But I have seen Arabic in textbooks written only horizontally. Plus, it takes up a lot of space, and, could be, impractical for input on electronic devices. (?) Oct 14, 2016 at 22:46
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    First typewriters, then computers: together they messed up Arabic script.
    – fdb
    Oct 14, 2016 at 22:58
  • Well, even on paper, there should be mute space taken up and empty space remaining when characters are stacked diagonally in this easy, is it not so? Oct 15, 2016 at 0:01

Do you mean the honorifics written in blocks, like these? EDIT: OP does not. Image

In Unicode they're called "word ligatures" or sometimes "honorific ligatures" (in the Arabic Presentation Forms-A block).

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    I think the question was about the “stacking” of the letters in each individual word. For example, the name “Muhammad” should be written with the first letter “m” attached to the top of the next letter, not its bottom, as it is in computer Arabic (محمد). By the way, your text is in Persian, not Arabic.
    – fdb
    Oct 15, 2016 at 22:27
  • Yes, you are right. @gen, could you please attach a picture to make clear that my question is about stacked Arabic and nut honorifics. Thanks. Oct 16, 2016 at 2:56
  • Also, now that you have posted this, I wan curious ascot what honorific blocks are for, and how you would input them on an Arabic keyboard. Can you stack vertically, just about any two words, to turn them into an honorific block? Oct 16, 2016 at 3:09
  • There's a small set of fixed phrases, generally applied to important religious figures, which are sometimes written in blocks like this. Unicode support is sporadic and unreliable and I'm not sure if there's a standard input method for them; I stole this image from the original proposal to add them to the Unicode standard, which admitted they'd only really be important for typesetters and a few specialized uses.
    – Draconis
    Oct 16, 2016 at 4:17

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