Setting Up Windows for International Environments

Some aspects of working with Office in an international environment are controlled in the Windows operating system; others are based on Office settings and components. The following sections walk you through some key elements that depend on Windows, including these:

  • Regional settings, including how Windows handles dates, times, and punctuation

  • Keyboard layouts

Controlling Windows Regional Options

When you use Word 2003, the application looks to the Windows Regional and Language Options to establish defaults for various settings that vary from country to country. For instance, Regional settings control number formats, currency formats, and how times and dates are displayed.

In Windows XP, for example, regional settings are controlled through the Regional and Language Options applet in the Windows Control Panel. To view it, open the Control Panel and double-click Regional and Language Options.

Figure 35.1 shows the Regional and Language Options dialog in Windows XP.

Figure 35.1. Choosing support for a specific language region in Windows XP.


In the United States, the default regional setting is English (United States). To change it, select a different regional setting from the drop-down box.


Windows may prompt you to provide the original installation media if you choose a regional setting that has not already been installed.

Later in this chapter, in the section "Using Foreign Dates and Times in Your Documents," you will learn how to override the default Windows settings for dates and times.

Changing Your Keyboard Layout to Reflect a Different Language

If you are using a language that works with a different character set, you may need to change your keyboard layout to gain easy access to the characters that language uses. In Windows 2000, this can be accomplished from the Language tab of Keyboard applet in the Windows Control Panel. In Windows XP, the same is done from the Languages tab of the Regional and Language Options applet of the Windows Control Panel.

Figure 35.2 shows the Text Services and Input Languages dialog in Windows XP. You access this dialog by clicking the Details button on the Languages tab.

Figure 35.2. Adding a new keyboard layout in Windows XP.


You can switch among the installed layouts by clicking on the Language indicator in the system tray at the right side of the Windows taskbar (see Figure 35.3). All available keyboards are shown, as are any Input Method Editors (IMEs) you may have installed to enter Asian languages. (IMEs are covered later in this chapter, in the section "Entering Asian Text with Input Method Editors.")

Figure 35.3. Switching between keyboard layouts in Windows XP.



In Windows XP the Language indicator may not always show up in the system tray. If you have chosen to display the Language bar, it will be displayed as a floating toolbar on the desktop instead.


If you occasionally work with various Western European languages, but you do not work enough with any one language to switch to that language's keyboard, consider installing and using the US-International Keyboard. This keyboard replaces many rarely used English-language characters with the most common foreign-language characters.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word