Traditional Mongolian orthography notes

Updated 9 April, 2024

This page brings together basic information about the Mongolian (Hudum) script and its use for the Mongolian language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Mongolian using Unicode.

It can be quite difficult at times for novices to identify characters in a string of cursive Mongolian text. Clicking on the orange-coloured examples below can help a lot by opening a panel which matches the code points and sounds to the visible graphemes. In the panel, the word is split into segments approximating grapheme clusters; above it is a transliteration; below is the pronunciation in IPA.

Referencing this document

Richard Ishida, Mongolian (Traditional Mongolian) Orthography Notes, 09-Apr-2024,


Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
Change size:   32px

ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠨ ᠪᠦᠷ ᠲᠥᠷᠥᠵᠦ ᠮᠡᠨᠳᠡᠯᠡᠬᠦ ᠡᠷᠬᠡ ᠴᠢᠯᠥᠭᠡ ᠲᠡᠢ᠂ ᠠᠳᠠᠯᠢᠬᠠᠨ ᠨᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ ᠲᠥᠷᠥ ᠲᠡᠢ᠂ ᠢᠵᠢᠯ ᠡᠷᠬᠡ ᠲᠡᠢ ᠪᠠᠢᠠᠭ᠃ ᠣᠶᠤᠨ ᠤᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ᠂ ᠨᠠᠨᠳᠢᠨ ᠴᠢᠨᠠᠷ ᠵᠠᠶᠠᠭᠠᠰᠠᠨ ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠨ ᠬᠡᠭᠴᠢ ᠥᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ ᠬᠣᠭᠣᠷᠣᠨᠳᠣ᠎ᠨ ᠠᠬᠠᠨ ᠳᠡᠭᠦᠦ ᠢᠨ ᠦᠵᠢᠯ ᠰᠠᠨᠠᠭᠠ ᠥᠠᠷ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠴᠠᠬᠥ ᠤᠴᠢᠷ ᠲᠠᠢ᠃

Source: Unicode UDHR, article 1

Usage & history

Origins of the Oriya script, 13thC – today.


└ Aramaic

└ Syriac

└ Sogdian

└ Old Uyghur

└ Mongolian

The Mongolian script is used for writing the Mongolian language. In the Mongolian People's Republic (Outer Mongolia), the traditional script was replaced by a Cyrillic orthography since the early 1940s, but revived in the 1990s, so that both scripts are now used in tandem. The script is also used within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere in China.

The traditional writing for Mongolian is known as Hudum Mongol bichig, and was adapted from the Old Uighur alphabet during the reign of Genghis Khan in the 13th century.

There are four other scripts which are derived from and closely related to Mongolian. These are the Galik, Todo (or "clear script"), Manchu and Sibe scripts.

More information: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

Basic features

The Mongolian script is an alphabet, ie. a writing system in which both consonants and vowels are indicated. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Halh Mongolian orthography.

Modern Mongolian can be written using a subset of the letters available in the Mongolian Unicode block. The remainder are used for writing Todo, Sibe, and Manchu, or for writing foriegn words, especially in Tibetan and Sanskrit.

Mongolian text runs top to bottom in vertical lines and (unusually) the lines flow left to right.

The script is cursive, ie. letters in a word are joined. All letters join both on the left and right.

Words are separated by spaces, but also contain narrow spaces that precede suffixes and may produce shaping differences to the surrounding letters. These are part of the word, and the parts on either side should not be separated.

❯ consonantSummary

Modern Mongolian uses 16 basic consonant letters and 11 more for representing foreign sounds.

❯ basicV

Traditional Mongolian is an alphabet where vowels are written using 8 vowel letters, including one for foreign sounds.

Mongolian has separate code points for each sound in Mongolian, but many of these look indistinguishable from each other when rendered. This creates difficulties for novices to reproduce Mongolian text without access to the source..

Vowel reduction is a significant feature of Mongolian. Non-initial short vowels are reduced to vestiges or to zero, and non-initial long vowels in the orthography are reduced to short vowel length.

Vowel harmony is another key feature, grouping vowels in a way that indicates a front or back position for the tongue root (ATR).

The script is monocameral.

There is a set of Mongolian digits.

Character index



Basic consonants


Extended consonants




Combining marks


Variation selectors








Separator & other


To be investigated

Items to show in lists


These are the sounds of Khalkha Mongolian.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

Plain vowels

i u ʊ ʊː e ə ə ɔ ɔː a


ui ʊi ɔi ai

A significant feature of Mongolian phonology is that vowel sounds are divided into front (+ATR), back (-ATR), and neutral groups (see harmony). The front and back distinction has to do with the position of the tongue root (ATR means Advanced Tongue Root). The phonology is more complicated, and sounds are somewhat more fluid than described here. See the sources for more detailed information.

In non-stressed positions, most vowels fall back to ə or are elided. See diglossia.

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
palatal velar uvular glottal
stops p t       ɡ ɢ  
palatalised       ɡʲ    
aspirated & palatalised pʲʰ tʲʰ       kʲʰ    
affricates   t͡s   t͡ʃ        
aspirated   t͡sʰ   t͡ʃʰ        
fricatives f   s
ʃ   x    
palatalised     ɮʲ        
nasals m   n     ŋ  
approximants w       j    
palatalised       j    

Some phonological transcriptions use t and where others use d and t for the same sounds, respectively. Similar contrasts are applied to the bilabial and affricate pairs in the repertoire (but not to the k/g pairing). Here we use the former, because that is what Wiktionary uses for the IPA transcriptions included in the examples.

Palatalisation appears to be restricted to words containing -ATR (back) vowelswl,#Consonants.


Mongolian is not a tonal language.


Prefixes and suffixes

The basic unit of text is a word, however words can contain prefixes and suffixes. Some of the suffixes are separated from the root of the word by a small gap, but they are still considered to be part of the word. See suffixes and mvs for more details.

Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony is an important aspect of the Mongolian language – words contain only back+neutral vowels, or only front+neutral vowels. Foreign loan words don't follow this pattern, and compound words (especially place names) may be made up of two words of different type.

Back vowels are sometimes called 'masculine' or ATR- vowels, and front vowels 'feminine' or ATR+ vowels.

The back vowels are:


The front vowels are:


The following vowel is neutral, and can appear in words with either back or front vowels.

Grammatical suffixes also differ according to whether the vowels are back or front types.

Spelling vs. pronunciation

Mongolian words can be written in a way that looks significantly different from the actual pronunciation. Two factors, in particular, play a role here: (1) vowel stress and reduction, and (2) traditional vs. modern pronunciations.

Vowel reduction is a significant feature of Mongolian pronunciation. Non-initial short vowels are reduced to vestiges or to zero, and non-initial long vowels in the orthography are reduced to short vowel length.



Word stress always falls on the first syllable of a Mongolian word, unless there are long vowels or diphthongs later in the word, in which case those take the stress.

The first vowel in a word is never reduced, even if unstressed, eg.



If there is more than one long vowel, the first long vowel is long, and the second is short, but not otherwise reduced, eg.


Different rules apply to foreign loan words, eg.



Written Mongolian words also use traditional spellings that may not correspond closely to modern pronunciations. For example, the following word is spelled pajarlalʊɢa, but pronounced pajərɮa.


It is particularly common to drop the sound of and convert it and the surrounding vowels to a single long vowel sound. For example, click on the following words to see the elided characters:




Sometimes vowels appear to move to places they are not in the orthography during the reduction process. The following word is spelled uʤəgulxu, whereas the modern pronunciation is ut͡suːləx.


For non-stressed, non-initial syllables, some sources group consonants into those which need to be preceded or followed by a vowel:


And those which don't:


However, Mongolian pronunciation can still appear to be very different from the written text because unstressed vowels are typically reduced or omitted when a word is pronounced, eg.


Vowel summary table

The following table summarises the main vowel to character assigments.

These are nominal pronunciations that don't take into account vowel harmony or vowel reduction. Also, nominal shapes are shown; in practise, the shape will vary according to the joining context.


For additional details see vowel_mappings.

This is the full set of characters needed to represent the vowels of the Mongolian language.


Basic vowels

Eight vowels are used for the Mongolian language.


The list shows canonical pronunciations for these vowels. In fact, in non-stressed positions most vowels fall back to ə or are omitted. See diglossia.

is used for foreign words. 

As previously mentioned, vowel harmony is an important part of the orthography for the Mongolian language, and most of these vowels consist of contrasting pairs.

Vowels for other languages

In addition to the set of Mongolian vowels, the Mongolian block also includes additional vowel characters for use with Todo, Sibe, Manchu and Ali Gali vowels.






Ali gali


Glyphs vs. phonemes

Unicode encodes separate characters for the different sounds of the Mongolian language, regardless of whether the glyph shapes used are identical.

This is particularly, though not exclusively, relevant for vowel letters. For example, the glyph shapes for the 2 characters and are identical, as are those for and . The two pairs only differ in shape in isolated and initial forms.

ᠣ᠊ ᠊ᠣ᠊ ᠊ᠣ ᠤ᠊ ᠊ᠤ᠊ ᠊ᠤ ᠥ᠊ ᠊ᠥ᠊ ᠊ᠥ ᠦ᠊ ᠊ᠦ᠊ ᠊ᠦ
Initial, medial and final forms for characters representing ɔ, ʊ, o, and u, respectively.

Identical glyphs for different sounds occur across other pairings also. For example, the medial and final shapes for a and n are identical.

ᠠ᠊ ᠊ᠠ᠊ ᠊ᠠ ᠨ᠊ ᠊ᠨ᠊ ᠊ᠨ
Initial, medial and final forms for characters representing a, and n, respectively.

The Unicode Standard provides the following examples of word pairs that cannot be distinguished visually.u,530

Click on 'details', and then on each of the words to see and compare their actual composition.

ᠠᠳᠠ ᠡᠨᠳᠡ ᠣᠷᠳᠤ ᠤᠷᠲᠤ
These 2 word pairs are confusable in Mongolian.
show composition: ᠤᠷᠲᠤ


show composition: ᠣᠷᠳᠤ


show composition: ᠡᠨᠳᠡ


show composition: ᠠᠳᠠ


The result of this encoding method is that it is impossible to accurately copy Mongolian text from a visual source unless you speak the language well enough to recognise the phonetics of the words involved. It also leads to mistakes when Mongolian speakers type text.

Final vowel separation

In some Mongolian words that end with or a special 'forward tail' glyph shape is used, and the glyph is slightly separated from the rest of the word (see fig_mvs). The shape of the previous letter may also change, when this occurs, depending on the letter and sometimes whether this is a traditional or modern orthography. Whether this special shaping is applied or not depends on the word – there are no rules to determine when to apply it.

The final letter is not a suffix, but is an integral part of the word, and line breaking, word selection, etc. should not split the start of the word from the last letter, even though there is a gap.

To achieve this effect in Unicode, it is currently necessary to use 180E immediately before the last letter. Click on the text in fig_mvs to see the sequence of characters.

ᠬᠠᠨᠠ ᠬᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ
The same sequence of characters with MVS before the last letter (left), and without (right).
show composition: ᠬᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ


show composition: ᠬᠠᠨᠠ


Not used for Todo, Manchu or Sibe.

Vowel sounds to characters

This section maps Mongolian vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Traditional Mongolian orthography.

Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Plain vowels




Used for foreign loanwords.








Used for foreign loan words.







Several vowels are reduced to this sound when not accented.







Consonant summary table

The following table summarises the main consonant to character assigments.

Nominal shapes are shown; in practise, the shape will vary according to the joining context. The finals shown are just a few that are dedicated finals, or whose pronunciation changes when syllable-final.

ᠵ␣ᠽ␣ ␣ᠴ␣ᠼ

For additional details see consonant_mappings.

Basic Mongolian consonants

The Mongolian language has a basic set of 16 consonants.

Whereas the table just above takes you from sounds to letters, the following simply lists the basic consonant letters (however, since the orthography is highly phonetic there is little difference in ordering).

ᠪ␣ᠫ␣ᠳ␣ᠲ␣ ␣ᠴ␣ᠵ␣ ␣ᠰ␣ᠱ␣ᠬ␣ᠭ␣ ␣ᠨ␣ᠩ␣ᠮ␣ ␣ᠷ␣ᠯ␣ᠶ

Glyph shaping

Each Mongolian letter tends to have multiple shapes, and the differences in glyph shape not solely dependent on the cursive interactions, as is the case in Arabic.

The choice of shape often depends on whether the letter is used in syllable-initial or syllable-final position. But there are typically differences between the shape used for a syllable-initial letter at the beginning of a word, and one that occurs within a word. A similar situation applies for syllable-final shaping: is the letter followed by more letters, or word final?

fig_syllable_shaping shows this for .

The various different basic shapes for NA.

Furthermore, a particular shape may be used before an MVS space, or after a NNBSP gap. All of this shaping should normally be handled automatically during the rendering process.

On the other hand, there are sometimes other, unpredictable changes in shape for letters in certain words. In this case, the content author needs to add an appropriate Free Variation Selector (FVS) formatting character after the letter to be shaped. See context.

QA and GA

In the current Mongolian encoding model, the code points and each have both masculine and feminine forms. The different forms have different shapes and different pronunciations.

The masculine form is used before a masculine vowel, and vice versa.

  masculine feminine   masculine feminine
initial ᠬᠠ ᠬᠡ   ᠭᠠ ᠭᠡ
medial  ᠊ᠬᠠ  ᠊ᠬᠡ    ᠊ᠭᠠ  ᠊ᠭᠡ
Initial and medial forms for QA and GA followed by masculine then feminine vowels.

The font is expected to automatically select the appropriate glyph form for these velar consonants. This becomes more complicated, however, where these consonants occur without a following vowel (ie. before another consonant, or in final position).

In Sibe and Manchu, the form is selected based on the previous vowel. In Mongolian and Todo, however, the shape depends on the gender of the word, as described in harmony, and this may not be detectable from the previous vowel. The Unicode Standard gives examples of 2 words where it is necessary to look at the beginning of the word to determine the shape at the end of the word.u,534

ᠴᠡᠷᠢᠭ ᠵᠠᠷᠯᠢᠭ
The words ʤarlig and čerig, showing different forms of the final letter GA.
show composition: ᠵᠠᠷᠯᠢᠭ


show composition: ᠴᠡᠷᠢᠭ


This puts a significant strain on the capabilities of the font itself and of the font developers, and some fonts do not achieve this correctly. In addition, exceptional circumstances have to be taken into account. In consequence, fonts may need 100 or more rules to handle this.


Many Mongolian suffixes are separated from the root or other suffixes by a small gap. Multiple suffixes may be attached to the word stem, each with their own initial gap. Characters following immediately following the gap may take on special shapes.

ᠵᠠᠷᠢᠮ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ

Lines and word selections, etc. should not be broken where the gaps appear. The word and its suffixes should be kept together.

The Unicode Standard provides 202F (NNBSP) for this gap, which is thinner than a normal space, and prevents line-breaking. Fonts and rendering should automatically perform any special glyph shaping needed for the initial letter in the suffix.

Repertoire extension

The full set of consonants used for Mongolian includes 11 letters that are normally used for writing foreign sounds.


See a couple of examples below, but click on the items in the above list to see more.



Consonants for other languages





Manchu & Buryat


Ali gali


Consonant clusters & gemination

Because the script is alphabetic, there are no special mechanisms for representing clusters of consonants without intervening vowels, or doubled consonants.

Consonant length

No special mechanisms for representing doubled consonants

Consonant sounds to characters

This section maps Mongolian consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Traditional Mongolian orthography. Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.




Mostly used for foriegn words. One source says mostly used at the beginning of foreign wordsws, but another indicates use in medial and final positions only.





Not used in word or syllable final position for Mongolian words.




Used to transcribe foreign words. (Originally used to transcribe Tibetan dz ཛ; Sanskrit ज).




Used to transcribe foreign words. (Originally for Tibetan ཚ tsʰ and Sanskrit छ cha.)






before front vowels or non-vowels.


Used to transcribe foreign words (originally for Tibetan ག ga and Sanskrit ग ga).


Used for transliterations.



before front vowels or non-vowels.



before back vowels.



Used to transcribe foreign words, such as Tibetan ཕ .






Pronounced ʃ before i, but also occurs before other vowels.



Used in Inner Mongolia to transcribe Chinese r ɻ ~ ʐ, always followed by an i. Transliterates ʒ in Tibetan ཞ ʒa.


Transcribes Chinese chi - used in Inner Mongolia.


Transcribes Chinese zhi - used in Inner Mongolia.


Mostly used in masculine words.



Used to transcribe foreign words. (Originally used to transcribe Tibetan /h/ ཧ, ྷ; Sanskrit ह).







Only used at end of word (medial form used for composites).



in syllable-final position.



Used to transcribe foreign words. (Originally used to transcribe Sanskrit U+0935 DEVANAGARI LETTER VA.) Not used in syllable final position, except before MVS.



Not normally used at the beginning of Mongolian words. Transcribed foreign words usually get a vowel prepended, for example, transcribing Русь (Russia) results in ɔ.rʊs.





Transcribes Tibetan lh.



Not used in syllable final position, except before MVS.


Other features

Combining marks

The Mongolian block contains 3 visible combining characters.


It also contains 3 invisible control characters, also classed by Unicode as combining characters, which can be used to indicate specific alternative forms for letters. See Context-based shaping.


Mongolian often uses ASCII digits, however there is a set of Mongolian digits.


Traditionally, Mongolian digits run horizontally within the vertical lines, but it is common in modern text for them to run down the line instead.u

Inline digits   Tate chu yoko digits
Digits arranged so they run down the line (left) and across the line (right).

Text direction

Mongolian script is written vertically, top to bottom, in columns that flow left to right. This is an unusual configuration. (Chinese, Japanese and Korean vertical text columns are read right to left). It derives from the fact that this script descended from a script (Old Uyghur) that was written right to left.

Fullwidth Latin alphabetic and digit characters are seen in traditional Mongolian text, as are fullwidth Chinese characters and punctuation (see mixed_text). When used, the latter are displayed upright. The fullwidth series of Unicode characters may be used as an easy way to achieve this.g5

Mixed Mongolian and Chinese text. (Click on the image to see larger.)

Cyrillic characters may also be seen, used in a way that resembles fullwidth characters, but this is actually a property of the font used to display the characters, since there are no fullwidth cyrillic code points in Unicode. Emoji are also expected to be displayed upright.g5

Non-fullwidth letters and numbers tend to be written sideways.g5 See mixed_text_sideways.

Sideways Latin text and numbers in vertical Mongolian.

Upright digits may be used for list counters. And Mongolian also has the feature referred to in Japanese as tate chu yoko, whereby small sequences of non-fullwidth numbers or punctuation may run horizontally within the vertical flow.g5 See fig_digits_tate_chu_yoko.

Certain punctuation marks are upright, and others are rotated.g5 (See inline.)

Many of the conventions seen in actual digital text may be determined more by the available technology than by what the content author wants to achieve.g5

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Mongolian orthography described here.

In horizontal contexts

When Mongolian excerpts are shown in text that is set horizontally (such as on this page), the Mongolian is sometimes represented as a sequence of single vertical words, eg. ᠮᠣᠩᠤᠯ
, but in other cases it is rotated left and joins horizontally, eg. ᠮᠣᠩᠤᠯ ᠪᠢᠴᠢᠭ.

Mongolian text written horizontally is read left-to-right. This means that if it contains embedded text from another language, such as English, there is no bidirectional behaviour (as there would be in Arabic-script text).

Note also that it is not possible to produce a page of vertical text by printing it horizontally and then rotating the page, This is because the order of lines in the rotated page will be right-to-left, whereas it should be left-to-right.

Glyph shaping & positioning

You can experiment with examples using the Mongolian character app.

Most of the complexity of the Mongolian traditional script has to do with two things: (1) characters are allocated on the basis of phonemic differences, but many characters share identical shapes, and (2) there are many variant forms for a given character, some of which cannot be produced automatically.

Cursive shaping

Similarly to the Arabic script, Mongolian letters within a word tend to be joined cursively along the centre baseline, and the shapes of joined characters can vary significantly in various positions. Unlike Arabic, and many other cursive scripts, there are no characters that only join on one side.

Letters following a Mongolian suffix space may need to be displayed using a joining form, however that is not always the case. It depends on the suffix.

The base shape of a letter can change significantly, depending on the position in a word. On the other hand, a number of letters have adopted identical shapes in the same, or sometimes different joining contexts.

Context-based shaping & positioning

Certain letters ligate with adjacent letters.

In addition to the cursive shaping mentioned just above, individual letters may have context-dependent variant forms, that can be quite different from the standard forms. Where the alternative form can be determined algorithmically, the font should produce the change.

An unusual feature of the Mongolian traditional script is that the shape of a letter may depend on the vowel harmony of the word, and so may be determined at some distance from the character in question.

For unpredictable variants, the Mongolian block has three 'free variation selectors' which can be used to indicate which variant form should be used. The variant selector is used immediately after the character to be changed.

ᠠᠦᠲᠣᠪᠦᠰ ᠠᠦ᠋ᠲ᠋ᠣᠪᠦ᠋ᠰ
The word for 'bus' (left) contains 3 free variation selectors. The right hand side shows what the word would look like without variation selectors.
show composition


Unfortunately, variation selector usage is still not completely standardised across Mongolian fonts. For a set of tables summarising current standardisation proposals and major font support see Mongolian variant forms.

Typographic units

Word boundaries

The concept of 'word' is difficult to define in any language (see What is a word?). Here, a word is a vaguely-defined, but recognisable semantic unit that is typically smaller than a phrase and may comprise one or more syllables.

Words are separated by spaces. The gaps before certain suffixes are not considered to be word delimiters. Those gaps are usually created using 180E or 202F.


Grapheme clusters

A grapheme is a user-perceived unit of text. The Unicode Standard uses generalised rules to define 'grapheme clusters', which approximate the likely grapheme boundaries in a writing system.


Punctuation & inline features

Phrase & section boundaries


Mongolian uses a mixture of local punctuation and punctuation from Chinese.



Question marks and exclamation marks are fullwidth, upright characters (ee an example). Mongolian punctuation is horizontally centred in each vertical line.n,#punctuation_rules

Bracketed text


Mongolian commonly uses parentheses or brackets to insert parenthetical information into text. Parentheses and brackets may be fullwidth or may not be. They are rotated.g5

  start end





Quotations & citations


A variety of brackets are used around quotations. Quotation marks are often fullwidth but may not be. Quotation marks are rotated, as in Chinese.g5

  start end
  « »

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

is used for ellipsis.

Inline notes & annotations

Like Chinese and Japanese, Mongolian text uses ruby annotations to express the pronunciation of words for beginners or in ambiguous situations. This is useful in Mongolian because many characters look identical in cursive text.

Annotations are typically written in the Latin script, and run down the right side of the line.g1

Ruby in Mongolian text.

Other inline features

Underlines run down the right side of vertical lines of Mongolian text. Lines down the left side are equivalent to overline in English text.n,#h_text_decoration

The side of the vertical line for underlines doesn't change for embedded Latin text. Since Latin text runs down the page, this makes the underline run across the top of the Latin letters. See the red line in text_decoration_mixed.n,#h_text_decoration

Underline in Mongolian text with embedded Latin content.

There are a number of different styles of underlining in use, as shown in underline_styles.g10

Various underline styles in Mongolian text. (Click on the picture to see larger.)

If an underline is styled so that it leaves a gap below spaces that separate words, the underline should not also leave gaps below the narrow spaces used to separate some suffixes from the word root. The desired outcome is that shown here, however implementations may vary.g9

Underlining with gaps doesn't leave a gap between roots and suffixes.

Other punctuation

is used to extend the baseline.

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

Line-breaking normally occurs at word boundaries (indicated by spaces). Words are not normally broken, but compound words separated by a hyphen can be broken before the hyphen (see hyphenation, just below).

Lines should also not break on gaps between words and their suffixes when separated by 202F, or where 180E is used.n,#mongolian_space

Line-edge rules

As in almost all writing systems, certain punctuation characters should not appear at the end or the start of a line. The Unicode line-break properties help applications decide whether a character should appear at the start or end of a line.

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Mongolian orthography.

The following list gives examples of typical behaviours for some of the characters used in modern Mongolian. Context may affect the behaviour of some of these and other characters.

Click/tap on the characters to show what they are.

  • « ( 〈 《 〔   should not be the last character on a line.
  •   the Mongolian hyphen, should also appear at the start of a line, and not the end.
  • » ) 〉》〕 . , ; ! ? । ॥ %   should not begin a new line.

Some characters prevent line-breaks both before and after them. These include 202F, 180E, and 2011.

In-word line-breaks

Words are not normally broken across line endings.

However, compound words that contain hyphens may be split at the hyphen@MWG/2-N13, When that happens, however, the hyphen should move to the next line, and should not stay at the end of the current line.u,545

Unicode provides a special Mongolian hyphen for this: 1806, which should produce the correct line wrap behaviour. Despite the name, it is not a formatting character that becomes visible only at line breaks; it is always visible. It is also not specific to Todo.

Text alignment & justification

To justify the text on a line, the spaces between words are adjusted.

When Chinese characters are embedded in Mongolian text and justification applied, space is not added between the Chinese characters (as it would be in a Chinese document).n,#mixed_arrangement_cjk

Space is added around embedded Chinese text during justification, not between.

Baselines, line height, etc.

The default baseline for Mongolian-script text runs down the centre of the vertical line spacing, as shown in centre_baseline.n,#h_text_decoration

The Mongolian baseline runs down the centre of the vertical line.

When mixed with other languages, the text in those languages should also be centre-aligned along the Mongolian baseline.n,#mixed_arrangement_alphanum

Counters, lists, etc.

You can experiment with counter styles using the Counter styles converter. Patterns for using these styles in CSS can be found in Ready-made Counter Styles, and we use the names of those patterns here to refer to the various styles.

The Mongolian orthography uses ASCII and native numeric styles. It also uses fixed styles based on circled numbers.


The mongolian numeric style is decimal-based and uses these digits.rmcs





The circled-decimal fixed style uses these numbers. It is only able to count to 50.


The dotted-decimal fixed style uses these numbers. It is only able to count to 20.


The Baiti and Noto fonts show the first 20 counters for the circled style lie on their side, instead of upright. The Mongolian White font fixes this, but doesn't appear to handle dotted digits above 9.

As list counters, these digits are generally used upright, as shown in fig_circled_counters.g5

Upright, circled numbers as list counters.

However, counters may also run down the page (see fig_rotated_counters).g5

List counters rotated. (Click on the image to see larger.)

Page & book layout

General page layout & progression

Generally, book binding is on the left, and pages are turned towards the left, unlike books set vertically in Chinese or Japanese.n,#h_binding

Mongolian books are bound on the left, and pages turn to the left.

Columns run horizontally, rather than vertically as in Western typography.n,#h_columns

Columns run horizontally. (Click on the image to see larger.)

It is common for the default orientation of pages to be landscape, rather than portrait.n,#h_paper_direction

Forms & user interaction

Form controls on Web pages should be rotated 90 degrees clockwise, compared to the form controls for Western languages.9→

The following figures show examples of what is expected. Major browsers don't fully support forms with this orientation at the time of writing.

ᠨᠢᠭᠡ: ᠳᠡᠯᠡᠬᠡᠢ ᠢᠢ ᠪᠦᠷᠬᠦᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠲᠣᠣᠷ ᠢ ᠵᠢᠩᠬ᠋ᠨᠢ ᠳᠠᠶᠠᠩ ᠳᠡᠯᠡᠬᠡᠢ ᠶᠢᠨ ᠰᠦᠯᠵᠢᠶ᠎ᠡ ᠪᠣᠯᠭᠠᠶ᠎ᠠ
Text entry form controls.
ᠬᠡᠯᠡ: ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠬᠡᠯᠡ
A select control closed (right) and then open while the user makes a choice (left).
Meter, progress, and button elements (right to left).

Page numbering, running headers, etc

Page numbers should be displayed on the upper or lower side of the page.n,#h_page_numbering

Online resources

  1. President of Mongolia Website
  2. Archival records from Preservation of unique and historic newspapers printed in traditional Mongolian script between 1936-1945 (EAP890), British Library