Stroke Order for Writing Chinese Characters

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Left to Right

The rules for writing Chinese characters are intended to smooth hand motion and thereby promote faster and more beautiful writing.

The basic principal when writing Chinese characters is Left to Right, Top to Bottom.

The rule of left to right also applies to compound characters which can be divided into two or more radicals or components. Each component of complex characters is completed in the order of left to right.

The following pages contain more specific rules. They sometimes seem to contradict each other, but once you start writing Chinese characters you will quickly get the feel for the stroke order.

Please click on Next to see the following rules for the stroke order of Chinese characters. All rules are illustrated with animated graphics.

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Top to Bottom

As with the left to right rule, the top to bottom rule also applies to complex characters.

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Outside to Inside

When there is an inner component, the surrounding strokes are drawn first.

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Horizontal Strokes Before Vertical Strokes

In Chinese characters which have crossing strokes, the horizontal strokes are drawn before the vertical strokes. In this example, the bottom stroke is not a crossing stroke, so it is drawn last, as according to rule #7.

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Left-Angled Strokes Before Right-Angled Strokes

Angled strokes are drawn downward to the left before those which are downward to the right.

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Center Verticals Before Sides

If there is a center vertical stroke flanked by strokes on either side, the center vertical is drawn first.

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Bottom Stroke Last

The bottom stroke of a character is drawn last.

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Extended Horizontals Last

Horizontal strokes which extend beyond the right and left boundaries of the body of the Chinese character are drawn last.

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Frame Is Closed With Last Stroke

Characters which form a frame around other strokes are left open until the inner components are finished. Then the outer frame is completed - usually with the bottom horizontal stroke.

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Dots - Either First or Last

Dots which appear on the top or upper left of a Chinese character are drawn first. Dots which appear on the bottom, upper right, or inside a character are drawn last.

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Your Citation
Su, Qiu Gui. "Stroke Order for Writing Chinese Characters." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Su, Qiu Gui. (2023, April 5). Stroke Order for Writing Chinese Characters. Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "Stroke Order for Writing Chinese Characters." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 11, 2023).