User:Yug/Stroke order

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Stroke order serie Stroke order according to national rules - Stroke order - CJK shapes and Stroke order

The 2 first sections explain the changes need, or done.
Sections write in small don't need to be change.

Sections in normal size need :

Planned rewriting of Stroke order[edit]

Changes done[edit]

The new strategy is to divided the "Stroke order : how to write CJK characters" into 3 stages :

  • write CJK strokes ; ✓ Done
  • order the strokes (ie: P-black.pngH-black.pngS-black.png make 千 ); ✓ Done
  • order the components : ✓ Done !!!!!!!!
  • stroke reductions : : ✓ Done !!!!!!!!

Some clean up and review need, but all is inside right now.


Stroke order for the character 言 shown by shade going from black to red.

Stroke order (Chinese: 筆順 bǐshùn; Template:Lang-ja hitsujun or 書き順 kaki-jun; Template:Lang-ko "pilsun" or 획순 畫順 "hweksun") refers to the way in which Chinese characters are written. For ease of explanation, this may be divided into : the direction and shape of each stroke ; the stroke after stroke order ; and the component after component order.[1] These 3 points together are called "Stroke order" since the most complex rules are those about stroke-to-stroke order.

When talking about stroke order, we should keep in mind that each character is a specific trace produced by the ordered dance of the pencil upon the paper. This explains how a different stroke order (a different dance of the pen), will produce a different trace, or character shape, and that an incorrect stroke order may produce an unexpected character.[2] In Kaishu style, a character is conveniently subdivided into strokes. A stroke is the trace left on paper by a unique a movement of the writing instrument, traditionally writing brushs, but in modern times most commonly a pen or pencil.

Contrary to common belief, Chinese characters seem to have been brush-written from their roots, but characters and styles of that time were not standardized enough to determine a universal stroke order. When standardization came, with Qin Shi Huangdi and Li Si (about 213 BC.), and more again after the adoption of clerical script, a stroke order started to be visible, according to the shape of the character.

It's only in recent times that modern states and educational ministers started to support an 'official' stroke order, with the aim of easing learning and standardizing the trace left by hand-written movements. Each sovereign country using CJK characters set its own stroke order standard, which show tiny differences and specificities from one to another. Also, traditional Chinese hànzì, Japanese kanji, Koreanese hanja (or hanmun), and simplified Chinese stroke order each have some local specificities.[3] Sometimes because of different traditions in cursive styles, sometime because a choice was needed, sometimes because of recent simplifications changing the shape, the associated stroke order of a character was changed too.[3] From that point on, each character comprising a known number of strokes has been associated with a prescribed way/order to be written.

Current stroke order rules are set by respective educational ministers, and some main rules of stroke order are taught. But these rules are not absolutes and have exceptions (often for traditional reasons). Moreover, while a set common stroke order may be convenient at the scale of a country, individuals often set up their own version to write even faster. The differences between these national rules and the individual rules frequently lead to confusion, even in books.

In conclusion, stroke order is more like a recommendation which aims to ease learning, writing, and mutual reading[4], but they are not strict rules.[5]

Development of rules[edit]

The rules for stroke order evolved to facilitate vertical writing, to maximize ease of writing and reading, to aid in producing uniform characters, and — since a person who has learned the rules can infer the stroke order of most characters — to ease the process of learning to write. They were also influenced by the highly cursive Grass Script style of calligraphy.

While children must learn and use correct stroke order in school, adults may ignore or forget the normalised stroke order for certain characters, or develop idiosyncratic ways of writing. While this is rarely a problem in day-to-day writing, in calligraphy, stroke order is vital; incorrectly ordered or written strokes can produce a visually unappealing or, occasionally, incorrect character, particularly in styles such as Grass Script, in which individual strokes are often combined in fluid motions without lifting the brush from the paper.

The Eight Principles of Yong (永字八法 Pinyin: yǒngzì bā fǎ; Japanese: eiji happō; Korean: 영자팔법, yeongjapalbeop, yŏngjap'albŏp) uses the single character 永, meaning "eternity", to teach the eight most basic strokes.

Which stroke order for each style[edit]

Example of Chinese calligraphy styles: character 馬, horse (Radical 187).
Ancient Chinese styles   Modern Chinese styles Cursives
oracle bronze bigseal seal clerical kaishu (t) kaishu (s) cursive grass style
馬-oracle.svg 馬-bronze.svg 馬-bigseal.svg 馬-seal.svg 馬-clerical.svg 馬-kaishu.svg 马-kaishu.svg 馬-xinshu.svg 馬-caoshu.svg
Kǎishū (t)
Kǎishū (s)
Kǎishū (t)
Kǎishū (s)
Ancient China —

In ancient China, the Jiǎgǔwén characters (Oracle script) which were carved on ox scapula and tortoise plastrons (see Oracle bones) showed no indication of stroke order. The characters show huge variations from piece to piece, sometimes even within one piece. During the divination ceremony, after the cracks were made, the characters were written with a brush on the shell or bone (to be carved in a workshop later). Although the brush-written stroke order is not discernable after carving, there exists some evidence that it was not entirely idiosyncratic: a few of the characters, often marginal administrative notations recording the provenance of the shells or bones, were not later recarved, and the stroke order of these characters tends to resemble traditional and modern stroke order (Keightley 1978). For those characters (the vast majority) which were later engraved into the hard surface using a knife, perhaps by a separate individual, there is evidence (from incompletely engraved pieces) that in at least some cases all the strokes running one way were carved, then the piece was turned, and strokes running another way were then carved (Keightley).

With the development of Jīnwén and Dàzhuàn (Bronzeware script and Large Seal Script) we continue to see "cursive" signs which also do not indicate a clear a stroke order. Moreover, it is evident that even as late as the development of Large seal (Dàzhuàn) style, each archaic kingdom of current China had its own set of characters.

Imperial China —

In Imperial China, the graphs on the old steles —some being as far as 2,200 years old (200 BC) and in Xiaozhuan style— start to reveal tiny indications of the stroke order of the time.

Comparison: 1716 Kangxi's shape VS. 21th c. shape.

About 220 BC, the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first to conquer the full Chinese plain, impose several reforms, in which the Li Si's Characters uniformisation, imposing a set of 3.300 standardized "Xiǎozhuàn" characters[6]. But the style is still not enough "geometrical" to read a stroke order from graphs on steles, and every paper's calligraphies of the time were lost.

The true starting point of the possibility to determine the stroke order of old style is the Lìshū style (Clerical script) which is more geometric and more similar to the current regular style. In theory, by looking the Lìshū style steles' graphs and the exact place of each stroke, we can see an "hierarchisation" of priority between the strokes, which indicate us the stroke order use by the calligrapher or stele sculptors.

Note: the precise graphic shape indicate us the correct stroke order. These differences directly come from brush writing usages, and are not always kept in modern computer type fonts.[7]

The first apparition of Kǎishū style (regular script) —still in use nowadays— more regular and geometric, allows us to read more clearly the hierachisation and so the stroke order use to write on the steles. It is to notice that this analyze show that the stroke order 1,000 years before was close but was not the same that in the end of Imperial China. An other thing is that some graphs in the stele show clearly the stroke order, while current Kǎishū graphs, still using the same stroke order, doesn't show clearly the stroke order. By example, the stroke order of 广 is really clear if we read the Kangxi dictionary of 1716; but if we read a book print in 2017, the official stroke order (the same) will not appear clearly (see unclean shape here (广). For a clean shape, refer to blue-black image on the right). The 17th century Kangxi Songti and modern typeface have tiny differences, tha Kangxi one provide indications of the stroke order that current typeface shapes do not provide, while current stroke order is still exactly the same, according to old style.[7]

The official shape of every radical and characters continue to move along history. It is also important to note that "graph" and "stroke order" are closely linked.

Cursives styles and hand-written styles —

Cursive styles such Xíngshū (semi-cursive or running script) and Cǎoshū (cursive or grass script) show even more their stroke order: each move made by the writing tool is finally visible. But it is important to notice that these two cursive styles are purely artistic, have no regular stroke order, and, in fact, play with such variations of the stroke order to produce variable graphic effects.

Then, it is also to notice that natives writers, with the need to write faster in their common life, set up their own stroke order rules for their own use, with some tiny differences with the official stroke order taught in school. Despite being more convenient for the writer to set up his own stroke order and most convenient way of writing, such hand-written characters and texts frequently confuse other readers, especially the non-native users. A frequently use solution is to write CJK characters fast (in cursive styles) but with the correct stroke order, which will allow others to read hand-written characters more easily, according to the fact that the cursive characters will have an recognizable expected shape.

Three national schools of stroke order[edit]

User:Yug/Stroke order according to national rules
Characters' variability and localisation proccess

For the vast majority of characters and graphic elements, their shape clearly dictates a particular order, also, this vast majority are written in exactly the same stroke order everywhere. But for other unclear cases, the "official" stroke order of CJK characters varies from country to country.

Historically, as state upper, characters shapes are subjects to variability, from one user to an other, and then across history too.[5] Indeed, calligraphers and calligraphic lover gentry loved to apply stroke order changes to produce highly appreciated associated graphic variations, especially visible in Xinshu and Caoshu styles -the core of Chinese calligraphy art-. In these cursive styles, each character had a lot of possible shapes, implying associated stroke order. On the Kaishu style, the shape and associated stroke order of a character have been more or less influenced by cursives variations. When came the time to set shape conventions, and later stroke order conventions, each government walked his way, and for unclear cases, may have eventually set as standard different shapes, and/or different stroke order. Its refering to one possible shape and its associated readable stroke order, or to one other shape and its other stroke order. This is largely because calligraphic styles evolved differently in Imperial China, Modern and Communist China, Japan, and Korea, and because when several standard possibilities were acceptable, a more or less blind choice had to be done, resulting in a different final choice.

The 3 main conventions

Also, de facto or Ministry of Education supported stroke order conventions are such following :

  • Traditional stroke order: Imperial China, ROC in China from 1911 to 1949, modern Taiwan and Hong Kong. This system of stroke order follows traditional Chinese calligraphy and Chinese Grass Style. The Taiwan Ministry of Education have publish a stroke order standard in 『常用國字標準字體筆順手冊』 (en: Most use Chinese characters official stroke order book), exposing 14 rules.[8]
  • Japanese stroke order: Modern Japan and Korea. This stroke order follows the traditions of Japanese calligraphy and Japanese Grass Style. The occupation of Korea by Japan (1910-1945), and their close intellectual and artistic exchanges meant that they developed similar calligraphies and now follow the very close stroke order. Some Japanese kanji were reformed in 1946, implying shape changes, strokes merge, and associated intuitive stroke order changes. The Japanese Ministry of Education have not published any stroke order standard, indeed, it just advice editors to follow traditional [Japanese] rules and the most intuitive and simple stroke order for unclear cases. Accordingly, there are no 'Japanese standard', and stroke order in Japanese books may differ a little each from an other.
  • Modern stroke order: Modern Mainland China (PRC). The Chinese government reformed the Chinese character set in 1956, and also reformed the number of strokes, as well as and the stroke order of some characters. A notable "innovation" of this stroke order reform was the conception of a "horizontal writing" stroke order, to facilitate horizontal writing. Some examples of stroke order simplifications are the radicals 廴,及,戈,方,母,瓦,癶,禸,舟,辶,阝,骨,and 鬼.
Example of differing stroke orders for the character 戈 ("halberd")[3]
Traditional stroke order, which developed in texts written from top to bottom. Ancient China, current Taiwan.
Modern stroke order, adapted for horizontal writing. PRC, post-1956 reform.

Direction to write and common shape of CJK(V) strokes[edit]

In order to be able to write CJK characters one first has to know how to write CJK strokes, and thus, needs to identify the basic strokes that make up a character. The following section lists the most usual common shapes of the basic CJK strokes, and the proper way of writing each. Many different lists of basic strokes coexist and there is no broad agreement, neither for the number of basic stroke, neither for their naming convention.[9]. We here use the Unicode CJK strokes set and naming convention,[10] composed by the 8 basic strokes of 永, and 28 other compound strokes. This naming system is not the only available. The strokes are painted in black and a red arrow shows the way to write each of them (you can click on images to enlarge them).

The 8 principles of Yong, the 8 basic strokes
The character yong [eternity], is traditionally used to display the 8 basic strokes (hide in 5 basic and compound strokes).[1] Enlarge this image to see the red arrows, showing the way of writing of each.
D-black.png - the Diǎn 點, is a Dot. Filled from the top, to the bottom, traditionaly made by "couching" the brush on the page.
H-black.png - the Héng 横, is horizontal. Filled from left to right, the same way the latin letters A,B,C,D are written.
S-black.png - the Shù 豎, is vertical-falling. The brush begins by a dot on top, then falls downward.
G-black.png - the Gōu 鉤, ending an other stroke, is a sharp change of direction either down (after a Heng) or left (after a Shù).
T-black.png - the Tí 提, is a flick up and rightwards
W-black.png - the Wān 彎, follows a concave path on the left or on the right
P-black.png - the Piě 撇, is a falling leftwards (with a slight curve)
N-black.png - the Nà 捺, is falling rightwards (with an emphasis at the end of the stroke)
(+ XG-black.png - the Xié 斜 is some time added to the 永's strokes. It's a concave Shù falling right, always ended by a Gōu, visible on this image).
(NB: For Korea, add Quān 圈, the circle. Some time, especially in computing, Biǎn 扁, a flat Nà 捺, is also added.)
D-black.png H-black.png S-black.png G-black.png T-black.png W-black.png P-black.png N-black.png (XG-black.png)
8 basics making 28 compound strokes

This 8 traditional basic strokes are used to make all other compound strokes -or complex strokes-. In example, Shù plus Gōu produce SG-black.png named ShùGōu. This way of naming strokes is based on Chinese language, and is simply the sum of the names of the very basic strokes, in the writing order. Moreover, a turn of 90⁰ (and only of 90⁰) producing a Shù or a Héng is called Zhé 折.[9] In example, Héng plus Shù plus Gōu produces HZG-black.png named HéngZhéGōu. Shù plus Héng plus Shù produces a ShùZhéZhé (SZZ-black.png). Nearly all complex strokes can be named using this simple scheme.[11]

It is essential to recognize and know how to draw the different strokes that make a character. In order to draw properly a Chinese character, it is also encouraged to draw the strokes with respect to a certain order. This stroke order composition is explained in the next section.

Basic rules of stroke order in RPC[edit]

Principal rules
1 川-order.gif 川-bw.png Left before right… 引…
2 三-order.gif 三-bw.png Top before bottom… 个,音,兴,拿,品,古,火,广 and 那,同…
3 十-order.gif 十-bw.png Horizontal strokes before intersecting vertical strokes… 天,田,聿 and 力…
4 囗-order.gif 生-bw.png When touching but not crossing, follow the previous rules of "Left, then right" and "Top first, then bottom". 囗,王,土,書,国
5 水-order.gif 水-bw.png Center stroke before wings… 小,少,木,出,光
6 文-order.gif 文-bw.png Left-falling strokes before right-falling strokes… 父,交,又,
7 戈-order.gif 玉-bw.png Minor side strokes last. 我,武,钱,戏 / ⽧
8 什-order.gif 什-bw.png First Left, then right… 们,汉,信,下,心
9 回-order.gif 回-bw.png Roof, then inside before to " close the door " 国,四 ⽷
10 这-order.gif 这-bw.png Bottom enclosing radicals last 还,道,週,艮,良,及,已,画
Details to notice: 那-order.gif 力-order.gif 广-order.gif 𡦂-order.gif 手-order.gif 扌-order.gif 提-order.gif 35px

The 6 first points explain the Stroke-to-Stroke order. The 3 last points explain the "Composition order", more explain in the next section. All this is according to PRC rules, which apply in Mainland China.

The Chinese character meaning "person" (人 animation, Chinese: rén, Japanese: hito, nin; jin). The character has two strokes, the first shown here in dark, and the second in red. The black area represents the starting position of the writing instrument.

This explain how each stroke is write (its direction), and then in which order they combine to make one element of a CJK character.

In example, now when you see 千, you recognize the shapes of a Piě (P-black.png, falling from top right to bottom left), a Shù (S-black.png, falling from top), and one Héng (H-black.png, horizontal from left to right). By looking 千 , you can also understand the priorities of writing, the rules working here are : "stroke on the top first, then those on its bottom" ; and "when crossing, the horizontal stroke should be write first". So we have : 千 = P-black.png H-black.png S-black.png (way and order know).

The next section explain how to combine several components into one CJK character.

Rules of element-to-element Composition[edit]

Stroke together create elements such as the 214 Kangxi radicals, their variants (手 -> 扌) or simplified versions (189 modern radicals), and rare specific graphic elements (such T-black.png). In one character, the graphic elements to graphic element order follow mainly the sames rules than stroke-to-stroke rules: « Left (element) before right (one) », then « Top (element) before bottom (one) » (i.e. 想 = 木, then 目, then 心). This apply to most characters, and to all those who have structure such as : ⿰,⿱,⿲,⿳,⿶,⿸,⿵,⿴,⿹ (i.e. 音,什,谢,客,凶,庫,同,因,氣).

In the element level, four more rarely use rules state :

  • « write one element completely, then an other one » (i.e. 花,筏,發),
  • « the riding element(s) first, the lower enclosure last » (i.e 还,道,週,艮,良,已,画,健,此,正), and...
  • « if one element is inside 2nd other, that make explode the 2nd element stroke order : one half before, one half after » (i.e. 因,国,四,区,式).
  • « and extended stroke (Héng H-black.png or Shù S-black.png) can fill the place of a late one (in a other element) » (i.e. 我,栽,識,式 ; 出)

The following image illustrate the basis of elements' order and the four other rules.

Basic compositions (音什谢客/⿰⿱⿲⿳), Boxies and covers' compositions (凶庫同因氣/⿶⿸⿵⿴⿹), Lower enclosing compositions(這区/⿺⿷), and Complete a radical then an other (筏), Extended stroke eating a later one (我/⿻).

Stroke transformations 3rd stage[edit]

The last aspect of Chinese writing system is the stroke transformation.

Stroke reduction

When an graphic element is locked and limited in space, the last stroke may be transformed and reduced to a shorter other stroke shape, often to became Dian (D-black.png). When limited on their right side, a Na, Shu or ShuGou becomes a Dian (N-black.png, S-black.png, or SG-black.png->D-black.png), a limited Heng becomes a Ti (H-black.png->T-black.png). This occurs -at least- with the radicals 文,大,火,竹,⽷,手,王,艮,etc, as visible on the image below.

Some examples of stroke reductions.
Stroke extension

Most of time a Na (N-black.png) get expanded when it finish the left half of a character. In the move, the writer just let his last move run longer. This create a bottom floor, which will limit the right half on his bottom side. This stroke extension work with 走起,处,咫,支,風颱,鼠鼶。

Stroke extension-suppression

In some rare cases of nowadays Kaishu style, a stroke may be extended to eat a later one (出、識). Merging may occur when two similar strokes (Heng & Heng ; Shu & Shu) of 2 of the character's components align themselves perfectly. The first stroke get expanded to fill now the place which the second stroke should place itself.

By example, 出 is etymologically the superposition of 山 and 山. The 2 central Shu S-black.png align themselves in old style such Zhuanshu/Lishu. In nowadays' Kaishu, the first stroke of the duo (here of two central Shu) get expanded downward, filling immediately the place of the second stroke, which thus is not more need. Merge of Heng H-black.png occur similarly when 立戈's Heng align themselves and merge in 識. This increase the amplitude of the calligrapher's writing moves, while decreasing the number of strokes and thus the time need to write the character.

Stroke suppression

Tools list to clean up[edit]

See also[edit]


Code Country Source references
Authoritative works
Kangxi old 康熙字典 (en: Kangxi Zidian), 1716. Using the original version, need to examinate former 17th-18th characters shapes (authoritative work). Scanned version available at
常用國字標準字體筆順手冊 tw 常用國字標準字體筆順手冊 (Stroke order 14 rules), by the Taiwan Ministry of Education. Book available online (authoritative work). ISBN 957-00-7082-X
現代漢語通用字筆順規範 cn 現代漢語通用字筆順規範, 453pages, 1997, editeur: 语文出版社, ISBN:7801262018 (Authoritative)
筆順指導の手びき jp 筆順指導の手びき (Hitsujun shidō no tebiki), 1958. (Authoritative from 1958 to 1977)
Note: nowadays, the Japanese Ministry of Education let editors set freely a character's stroke order, which all should « follow commonsensical orders which are widely accepted in the society ».
香港標準字形及筆順 hk 香港標準字形及筆順 - stroke orders following the Hong Kong Department of Education's List of Commonly Used Characters
黃沛榮 tw+cn 黃沛榮(Huang Peijung): 兩岸語文比較:肆、筆順 (en: Comparative study of the two Chinese characters systems: Section 4, Stroke order)
CC cn 当代中文, Contemporary Chinese, Character book, volume one, by Wu Zhongwei (chief compiler), support by the Project NOTCFL of the PRC, ed. Sinolingua, 2003, ISBN 7-80052-881-2
Websites support by governements:
TW tw 常用國字標準字體筆順學習網, (en: Learning Program for Stroke Order of Frequently Used Chinese Characters) with animated stroke order, by the Ministry of Education, R.O.C. (Taiwan). (Research by character | Searching methods).


  1. a b Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content
  2. いかにして誤字はできるのか : exposes the visual consequences of an incorrect stroke order. On the 3rd image, the expected character 「反 opposite」, written with incorrect stroke order, now looks like 「及 reach」.
  3. a b c 黃沛榮, for differences between Traditional and Simplified stroke orders.
  4. CC, p.6 : "Chinese characters should be written in the correct stroke order. This will ensure correctness, increase the speed of writing and be helpful when looking up characters in dictionary."
  5. a b CC, p.17: "Over centuries, not only the forms of the characters but also their meaning and pronunciation have change to a greater or lesser extent."
  6. Fazzioli, Edoardo. Chinese calligraphy : from pictograph to ideogram : the history of 214 essential Chinese/Japanese characters. calligraphy by Rebecca Hon Ko. New York: Abbeville Press. pp. 13. ISBN 0896597741. "And so the first Chinese dictionary was born, the Sān Chāng, containing 3,300 characters".
  7. a b 康熙字典/Kangxi: See by example the radicals 广, p.41. Today computer typefonts' shapes for these characters don't allow one to "read" the stroke order clearly, while old version, visible on the Kangxi Zidian p.41, clearly allow us to guess the stroke order. See Kangxi Stroke order.png.
  8. 常用國字標準字體筆順手冊.
  9. a b For the plurality of stroke lists and access to some, see by example : Their respective analysis differ, despite they both work on computer Songti fonts, and are in close collaboration. Calligraphic lists have far more divergences, according to the style looked at, and the list's author.
  10. Proposal to add twenty strokes to Unicode, naming convention explanations p.3.
    The naming convention codes are also use in the final document : 36 CJK strokes set (html), by
  11. The exception being ㇘ SWZ (豎彎左), since a ㇗ SZ (豎折) already existed, this "SZ" code name was not available, despite it describe perfectly the so called SWZ. Refer again to 36 CJK strokes set (html).


Archaic characters
  • Keightley, David N. (1978). Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-02969-0

External links[edit]

Modern Chinese
Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja
For several ways
  • 台湾笔顺和大陆笔顺的不同
  • The 3 ways : CJK stroke order project, Free Wikipedia project making and sharing animations and images showing stroke order according to the 3 ways (Traditional hanzi, Modern hanzi, Japanese kanji).
  • Two ways :, 2 - eStroke, easy to use; traditional, simplified, and Cantonese dialectical characters. Claim to have about 2,000 animations.