As you might have seen it a lot of times in web apps, one step back in history often is aligned by an arrow to the left.

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How does this work for people using RTL languages? Do they need an arrow to the right?

How does this work for languages which are written from top to bottom like Chinese, Japanese or Korean? Do they need an arrow to the top?

  • I'm not sure if this is a usability question. It's really more of a technical question, as far as your translator will tell you whether the arrow should be facing left, right, up or down.
    – Brendon
    Oct 18, 2013 at 6:25
  • 4
    @Brendon even if it's not a usability question, it is still a user experience question
    – Lovis
    Oct 18, 2013 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


Chinese, Korean and Japanese applications are structured according to the western standard LTR. I work closely with the Chinese and the Japanese domestic market and writing from left to right in any software context is the conventional approach nowadays. Regarding RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew you should abide to their convention if you'll have the app localized. Meaning pretty much everything is mirrored, including the "Back" direction:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 4
    Are those screenshots from a real device? So the navigation bar (back, home, recent) is not mirrored? Interesting.
    – Lovis
    Oct 18, 2013 at 9:10
  • @L.Mller Yes, it's from an Xperia Dogo set to localize with a middle eastern RTL language, not entirely sure which one though... The reason for not mirroring the navigation bar is to my knowledge a heritage from the days when the navigation bar was physical with physical symbols of what it represents. The mapping most probably derives from those days. It's not a matter of Android code patching at least since the status bar is also mirrored. Oct 18, 2013 at 9:14
  • that makes sense. looks strange anyway. everything mirrored except the navigation bar. and the back-arrow does not point to the right.
    – Lovis
    Oct 18, 2013 at 9:16
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    Even more confusingly, the "back" arrow at bottom-left of the screen points left, but the "back" ("return") icon at top-right of the screen points right!
    – AlexC
    Dec 19, 2013 at 18:19
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    @AlexC I know right? I believe Samsung may have something to do with that. Android vendors have as a whole complied with the new Android design guidelines, where the navigation bar is a display element. Samsung however still has the navigation bar separate from the display, and therefore it would be expensive to produce new models for RTL. And one has to remember that Samsung is a big player in this game, probably has a great deal of attention from Google. Dec 20, 2013 at 7:07

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