The basic Arabic alphabet contains 28 letters. Alterations of the alphabet in other languages include additional letters such as hamza, but native Arabs tend to regard them as separate from the alphabet.
Arabic letters fall into three categories according to their position in the alphabet: initial, medial and final. All the letters take a similar shape but differ through dots placed either above or below the central part of the letter.
When writing and reading the alphabet, people start from right to left. There is no distinction between uppercase and lowercase forms of the alphabet. Both written and printed forms are cursive, combining joins and pen lifts.