Stroke (CJKV character)

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永, a Chinese character with a high variety of strokes.

CJKV strokes are the calligraphic strokes needed to write the Chinese characters in regular script used in East Asia. CJK strokes are the classified set of line patterns that may be arranged and combined to form Chinese characters (also known as Hanzi) in use in China, Japan, Korea, and to a lesser extent in Vietnam (see CJK characters).


The study and classification of CJK strokes aid in:[according to whom?]

  1. understanding Chinese character calligraphy - the correct method of writing, shape formation and stroke order;
  2. understanding stroke changes according to the style that is in use;
  3. defining stroke naming and counting conventions;
  4. identifying fundamental components of Han radicals; and
  5. their use in computing.


When writing Han radicals, a single stroke includes all the motions necessary to produce a given part of a character before lifting the writing instrument from the writing surface; thus, a single stroke may have abrupt changes in direction within the line. For example:

S-black.png (Shù) is classified as a basic stroke because it is a single stroke that forms a line moving in one direction.
SZZ-black.png (Shù Zhé Zhé) is classified as a compound stroke because it is a single stroke that forms a line that includes one or more abrupt changes in direction. This example is a sequence of three basic strokes written without lifting the writing instrument from the writing surface.


CJK strokes are an attempt to identify and classify all single-stroke components that can be used to write Han radicals. There are some thirty distinct types of strokes recognized in Chinese characters, some of which are compound strokes made from basic strokes. The compound strokes comprise more than one movement of the writing instrument, and many of these have no agreed-upon name.

Basic strokes

A basic stroke is a single calligraphic mark moving in one direction across a writing surface. The following table lists a selection of basic strokes divided into two stroke groups: simple and combining. "Simple strokes" (such as Héng "Horizontal" and Diǎn "Dot") can be written alone. "Combining strokes" (such as Zhé "Break" and Gōu "Hook") never occur alone, but must be paired with at least one other stroke forming a compound stroke. Thus, they are not in themselves individual strokes.

Table of basic strokes
(pinyin, trad./simp.)
CJK stroke Translation
of Chinese name
Simple strokes
Diǎn, 點/点 D-black.png "Dot" Tiny dash, speck
Héng, 横 H-black.png "Horizontal" Rightward stroke
Shù, 豎/竖 S-black.png "Vertical" Downward stroke
, 提 T-black.png "Rise" Flick up and rightwards
, 捺 N-black.png "Press down" Falling rightwards (fattening at the bottom)
Piě, 撇 P-black.png "Throw away" Falling leftwards (with slight curve)
Combining strokes
Zhé, 折 N/A "Break" Indicates change in stroke direction, usually 90° turn, going down or going right only.
Gōu, 鉤/钩 G-black.png "Hook" Appended to other strokes, suddenly going down or going left only.
Wān, 彎/弯 W-black.png "Bend" A tapering thinning curve, usually concave left (convex outward right).
Xié, 斜 XG-black.png "Slant" Curved line, usually concave right (convex outward left).

Note, the basic stroke Diǎn "Dot" is rarely a real dot. Instead it usually takes the shape of a very small line pointing in one of several directions, and may be long enough to be confused with other strokes.

Compound strokes

Another classification showing 37 strokes: 8 basic strokes, and 29 complex strokes.[1]

A compound stroke (also called a complex stroke) is produced when two or more basic strokes are combined in a single stroke written without lifting the writing instrument from the writing surface. The character 永 (pinyin: yǒng) "eternity" described in more detail below demonstrates one of these compound strokes. The centre line is a compound stroke that combines three stroke shapes in a single stroke.

Basics for making compound strokes[2]

In most cases, concatenating basic strokes together form a compound stroke. For example, Shù combined with Gōu produce SG-black.png (Shù Gōu). A stroke naming convention sums the names of the basic strokes, in the writing order.

An exception to this applies when a stroke makes a turn of 90° (and only of 90°). Horizontal H-black.png (Héng) and Vertical S-black.png (Shù) strokes are identified only once when they appear as the first stroke of a compound; any single stroke with successive 90° turns down or to the right are indicated by a 折 (pinyin: Zhé) "Break". For example, an initial Shù followed by an abrupt turn right produces SZ-black.png (Shù Zhé). In the same way, an initial Shù followed by an abrupt turn right followed by a second turn down produces SZZ-black.png (Shù Zhé Zhé).

Nearly all complex strokes can be named using this simple scheme.


Organization systems used to describe and differentiate strokes may include the use of roman letters, Chinese characters, numbers, or a combination of these devices. Two methods of organizing CJK strokes are by:

  1. Classification schemes that describe strokes by a naming convention or by conformity to a taxonomy; and
  2. Categorization schemes that differentiate strokes by numeric or topical grouping.

In classification schemes, stroke forms are described, assigned a representative character or letterform, and may be arranged in a hierarchy. In categorization schemes, stroke forms are differentiated, sorted and grouped into like categories; categories may be topical, or assigned by a numeric or alpha-numeric nominal number according to a designed numbering scheme.


Organizing strokes into a hierarchy aids a user's understanding by bringing order to an obtuse system of writing that has organically evolved over the period of centuries. In addition, the process of recognizing and describing stroke patterns promotes consistency of stroke formation and usage. When organized by naming convention, classification allows a user to find a stroke quickly in a large stroke collection, makes it easier to detect duplication, and conveys meaning when comparing relationships between strokes. When organized by numbering scheme, categorization aids a user in understanding stroke differences, and makes it easier to make predictions, inferences and decisions about a stroke.


Strokes are described and differentiated using the criteria of visual qualities of a stroke. Because this can require subjective interpretation, CJK strokes cannot be placed into a single definitive classification scheme because stroke types lack a universal consensus on the description and number of basic and compound forms. CJK strokes cannot be placed into a single definitive categorization scheme due to visual ambiguity between strokes, and therefore cannot be segregated into mutually-exclusive groups. Other factors inhibiting organization based on visual criteria is the variation of writing styles, and the changes of appearance that a stroke undergoes within various characters.

Roman letter naming convention

A naming convention is a classification scheme where a controlled vocabulary is used systematically to describe the characteristics of an item. The naming convention for a CJK stroke is derived from the path mark left by the writing instrument. In this instance roman letters are concatenated to form a stroke name is a sequence of one or more roman letters indicating the component strokes used to create the CJK stroke. The first letter of the Han radical’s pinyin pronunciation represents each basic stroke. In a basic stroke example, H represents the stroke H-black.png named 横 (pinyin: Héng); in a compound example, HZT represents 横折提 (pinyin: Héng Zhé Tí).

While no consensus exists, there are up to 12 distinct basic strokes that are identified by a unique Han radical.

Letters commonly used in CJK stroke naming conventions[3]
Letter B D G H N P Q S T W X Z
Stroke direction Cjk bian.png Cjk dian.png Cjk gou.png Cjk heng.png Cjk na.png Cjk pie.png Cjk quan.png Cjk shu.png Cjk ti.png Cjk wan.png Cjk xie.png 90° turn right or down
Trad./simp. / / / / /
Pinyin Biǎn Diǎn Gōu Héng Piě Quān Shù Wān Xié Zhé
Meaning "Flat" "Dot" "Hook" "Horizontal" "Press down" "Throw away" "Circle" "Vertical" "Rise" "Bend" "Slant" "Break"

There are a many CJK compound strokes, however there is no consensus for sequence letter naming of compound strokes using the basic strokes. The following table demonstrates the CJK stroke naming convention:

Selected named CJK basic and compound strokes
Stroke Name[4] Simple ideogram[5]
zhǐ shì
Section header
Dictionary meaning Example characters
Cjk h-horizontal.png H , "horizon"; simplified form of 弌 , "outstretched finger" Radical 1 一 , "one" , "cardinal number one", "alone"; dash 破折号 pòzhéhào, "Chinese punctuation dash" 二 三 丁 丞 丈 世 不 上 十 卅 七
Cjk hg.png HG   Variant form of 乙 wān, ya, zhé (折) turning stroke/to break 疋 了 危 予 矛 子 字 令 疏 写 冖
Cjk hz.png HZ       口 囗 己 田 品 吕 申 甲 圆 巪
Cjk hzg.png HZG   Variant form of 乙   羽 习 包 勻 葡 用 青 甫 勺 月 也 乜
Cjk hzt.png HZT       讠 计 鳩
Cjk hzz.png HZZ      
Cjk hzzz.png HZZZ      
Cjk hzzzg.png HZZZG yùn pregnant woman (swollen breasts and stomach); compare   𠄎 nǎi, archaic form of "then", "really, indeed", "namely", "you, your" 乃 孕 仍
Cjk hzzp.png HZZP       建 及
Cjk hp.png HP       又 水 夕 径 炙 双 叒 今
Cjk hpw.png HPW[1]       辶 过 边
Cjk hpwg.png HPWG       队 邮
Cjk hzw.png HZW       殳 投 朵
Cjk hzwg.png HZWG       飞 风 瘋 九 几 气 虱
Cjk hxwg.png HXWG[3]
suggesting efforts of a sprouting seed; yàn representing a bird's call Radical 5 乙 , "second" yǐ, niè, "the second of the ten heavenly stems", "second"; zhé (折) turning stroke/to break 氹 乞 乤 芸
Cjk hxg.png HXG
(HWG,[1] HZWG[3])
  Variant form of 丿 piě , "to move" (archaic) 飞 风 迅 九 几 凬 气 虱
Cjk bxg.svg BXG       心 必 沁 惢 蕊
Cjk s.png S gěn vertical things Radical 2 丨 gǔn, "vertical stroke" , "vertical line" 丩 中 串 讧 乍 上 五 丑
Cjk sg.png SG   Radical 6 亅 jué, "hook" jué, "a vertical line with a hook", usually read as 竖勾 shùgōu 爭 事 求 水
Cjk st.png ST juē pictograph of a hook     以 比 切 卯 食 良 艮 很 狠 鄉 民
Cjk sz.png SZ       断 陋 继 山 互 彙 牙 乐 东
Cjk szz.png SZZ       亞 鼎 卐 吳 专
Cjk szzg.png SZZG[1]
      亏 强 弓 丏 丐 与 马 鸟 丂 号
Cjk szzwg.png SZZWG[1]
      弓 丐
Cjk sw.png SW       區 亡 妄 四
Cjk swh.png SW [横 héng zuǒ, "horizontal left"][7]       肅 嘯 蕭 簫
Cjk swg.png SWG   Variant form of 乙 yǐn, "hidden", "mysterious", "small", usually read as / yǐn 乱 己 已 巳
Cjk sp.png SP       乃 月 用 齊 几 人 班 大
Cjk szp.png SZP       专 𧦮 𤓷 𤦡
Cjk w.png W[1]      
Cjk wg.png WG       狐 狱 豹 家 啄 嶽 貓 家 逐, 乙
Cjk p.png P piě, a falling line suggesting motion; suggestion dragging motion Radical 4 丿 piě, "slash" 丿 piě, "line" 乂 爻 禾 毛 乏 乖 釆 衣 八 行
Cjk pg.png PG      
Cjk pz.png PZ       弘 玄 公 厶 翁
Cjk pd.png PD   See also: Radical 47 巛 See also: guì, "river" (archaic) 女 巛 巡 獵 災 甾
Cjk pn.png PN       是 走 廴
Cjk n.png N       大 人 天 入 走 边 廷 尺
Cjk xg.png XG       戈 弋 戰 我
Cjk t.png T     Usually read as 趯 , "jump" 冰 淋 病 孑 治 冶 冽 暴 氾 录 地 虫
Cjk tpn.png TPN       辶 之 辷
Cjk tn.png TN   Variant form of 丿 piě , "stretch" 尐 之 道 八 入 廻
Cjk d.png D zhǔ pictograph of flame (主 = lamp and flame) Radical 3 丶 zhǔ, "dot" zhǔ, "dot", usually read as 點/点 diǎn 丸 叉 义 永 冰 凡 丹 主 求 火 刃
Cjk dn.png DN      
Cjk q.png Q     líng, "zero"; full stop (。) 句號/句号 jùhào, "Chinese punctuation full stop (period)"; may be read as quān, "circle"[7] 〇 㔔 㪳 㫈

Numbering scheme

A numbering scheme is a categorization method where like-item strokes are grouped into categories labeled by nominal numbers. Category numbering may be an index of numbers of types, with sub-types indicated by decimal point followed by another number or a letter.[4]

The following table is a common numbering scheme that uses similar names as the roman letter naming convention, but the stroke forms are grouped into major category types (1 to 5), which further break down into 25 sub-types in category 5.

Example of a CJK stroke numbering scheme[8]
No. Stroke Name
(simplified Chinese and pinyin)
Horizontal (一)
1 Cjk h-horizontal.png Héng
Cjk t.png
Vertical (丨)
2 Cjk s.png Shù
Cjk sg.png 竖钩 Shù Gōu
Slash (丿)
3 Cjk p.png Piě
Cjk pg.png 撇钩 Piě Gōu
Dot (丶)
4 Cjk d.png Diǎn
Cjk n.png
Cjk tn.png 提捺 Tì Nà
No. Stroke Name
(simplified Chinese and pinyin)
Turning stroke (折 Zhé = right angle turn) or (弯 Wān = curve turn)
5.1 Cjk hz.png 横折 Héng Zhé
5.2 Cjk hp.png 横撇 Héng Piě
5.3 Cjk hg.png 横钩 Héng Gōu
5.4 Cjk sz.png 竖折 Shù Zhé
5.5 Cjk sw.png 竖弯 Shù Wān
5.6 Cjk st.png 竖提 Shù Tì
5.7 Cjk pz.png 撇横 Piě Zhé
5.8 Cjk pd.png 撇点 Piě Diǎn
5.9 Cjk pg.png 撇钩 Piě Gōu
5.10 Cjk wg.png 弯钩 Wān Gōu
5.11 Cjk xg.png 斜钩 Xié Gōu
5.12 Cjk hzz.png 横折折 Héng Zhé Zhé
5.13 Cjk hzw.png 横折弯 Héng Zhé Wān
5.14 Cjk hzt.png 横折提 Héng Zhé Tì
5.15 Cjk hzg.png 横折钩 Héng Zhé Gōu
5.16 Cjk hxg.png 横斜钩 Héng Xié Gōu
5.17 Cjk szz.png 竖折折 Shù Zhé Zhé
5.18 Cjk szp.png 竖折撇 Shù Zhé Piě
5.19 Cjk swg.png 竖弯钩 Shù Wān Gōu
5.20 Cjk hzzz.png 横折折折 Héng Zhé Zhé Zhé
5.21 Cjk hzzp.png 横折折撇 Héng Zhé Zhé Piě
5.22 Cjk hxwg.png 横折弯钩 Héng Zhé Wān Gōu
5.23 Cjk hpwg.png 横撇弯钩 Héng Piě Wān Gōu
5.24 Cjk szzg.png 竖折折钩 Shù Zhé Zhé Gōu
5.25 Cjk hzzzg.png 横折折折钩 Héng Zhé Zhé Zhé Gōu

Stroke order

Stroke order refers to the order in which the strokes of a Chinese character are written. A stroke is a movement of a writing instrument on a writing surface. Because most Chinese characters have many strokes, certain stroke orders guidelines are recommended to ensure speed, accuracy, and legibility in composition. Also, teachers enforce exactly one stroke order for each character, marking every deviation as a mistake, so everyone writes these characters the same way. The stroke order follows a few simple rules, though, which aids in memorizing these. To write CJK characters, one must know how to write CJK strokes, and thus, needs to identify the basic strokes that make up a character.

Eight Principles of Yong

The Eight Principles of Yong explain how to write eight common strokes in regular script which are found all in the one character, (pinyin: yǒng, "forever", "permanence"). It was traditionally believed that the frequent practice of these principles as a beginning calligrapher could ensure beauty in one's writing.

Eight basic strokes[2]
Eight principle strokes extracted from , "eternity" (five basic strokes: D, T, W, P, N and one compound stroke HZG). Enlarge this image to see the red arrows, showing the way of writing of each.
D-black.png - the Diǎn 點/点, is a dot, filled from the top, to the bottom, traditionally 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/竖, is vertical-falling. The brush begins by a dot on top, then falls downward.
G-black.png - the Gōu 鉤/钩, ending another stroke, is a sharp change of direction either down (after a Heng) or left (after a Shù).
T-black.png - the 提, is a flick up and rightwards
W-black.png - the Wān 彎/弯, 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 捺, is falling rightwards (with an emphasis at the end of the stroke)
(+ XG-black.png - the Xié 斜 is sometimes added to the 永's strokes. It's a concave Shù falling right, always ended by a Gōu, visible on this image).
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)

Use in computing

The stroke count method is based on the order of strokes to input characters on Chinese mobile phones.

As part of Chinese character encoding, there have been several proposals to encode the CJK strokes, most of time with a total around 35~40 entries. Most notable is the current Unicode block “CJK Strokes” (U+31C0..U+31EF), with 36 types of strokes:

CJK Strokes[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lopez, Hugo (2007). "CJK 37 Strokes (fr:Traits chinois)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 The extended CJK(V) set of strokes has 29 strokes. These most common 29 used strokes can be reduced to combinations of 8 basic strokes, for a total of 37 strokes. The subset of 8 is found in the character "eternity" 永, hence the name of this set. But other sets of CJK(V) strokes can be found.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Proposed additions to the CJK Strokes block of the UCS", Ideographic Rapporteur Group, April 3, 2006, p. 10 Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bishop, Tom; Cook, Richard (May 23, 2004), "Character Description Language (CDL): The Set of Basic CJK Unified Stroke Types", p. 8 Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Rick Harbaugh,, retrieved February 1, 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Proposed additions to the CJK Strokes block of the UCS", Ideographic Rapporteur Group, April 3, 2006 Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "自由的百科全书" (in Chinese). 笔画. July 27, 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "自由的百科全书" (in Chinese). 笔画. February 9, 2011. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also