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It seems various people often have various ways to write the same characters. For instance, I have seen the radical "忄" being written in three different ways (left, middle, right; left, right, middle; and middle, left, right) which is a lot for such a small radical. Chinese teachers sometime don't even agree on what should be the correct stroke order.

So is there any authoritative source on what the correct stroke order for a character should be? Perhaps some book published by the government?

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You can reference 《现代汉语通用字笔顺规范》 published by the Ministry of Education of PRC, which includes the stroke order of over 7000 daily used simplified Chinese characters.

If you want to find some traditional Chinese stroke order resources, check this

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I heard about this book before but it's 15 years old. Sometime I show stroke orders from this book to Chinese people and they told me they learn something different at school. Is this book still current or is there a more recent edition (can't seem to find any)? Thanks for the traditional Chinese reference, I'll have a look. –  this.lau_ Dec 14 '11 at 3:57
    
I check MoE's publish, there is no newer version. For most ( actually only few argument like you mentioned ) condition, this book is not OLD. But I suggest you read traditional chinese's as a reference. In the part you are interest, SC & TC are the same. –  AntiGameZ Dec 14 '11 at 4:05
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@Laurent - Something like stroke order you could find from a current Chinese child's school book, but people are still going to disagree with you. I promise you, even if you find a book autographed by the Chinese gov. people are still going to disagree with you, not sure how this is going to help? As mentioned in my answer, even Wikipedia acknowledges there are disagreements. –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 14 '11 at 4:44
    
@xiaohouzi79 is right, standard chinese characters Kai is very different with hand writing chinese characters like Cao for writing convenience reason. –  AntiGameZ Dec 14 '11 at 4:49
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According to the Wikipedia article on stroke order there is disagreement as you have already mentioned.

Wikipedia sites the following text:

现代汉语通用字笔顺规范 (PRC-China modern Chinese commonly used characters standard stroke orders), Beijing: 语文出版社 (Language and Literature Press), 1997, pp. 453, ISBN 7801262018, retrieved 2010-09-02 (Authoritative)

As the authoritative reference for the PRC.

An example of the radical you have above is listed on the second page and is written as left dot, right dot, middle stroke.

enter image description here

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hmm... I'm not seeing any mention of a disagreement on Wikipedia's page. It's written that some people forget the correct stroke order but it doesn't mean there's no correct stroke order. You're right that 现代汉语通用字笔顺规范 is most likely the reference although it's quite old, so I was hoping a more up to date one would be available. –  this.lau_ Dec 14 '11 at 4:52
    
@Laurent - As per my suggestion above I would suggest the most authoritative would be a Chinese school child's text book (likely looking at year 1). –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 14 '11 at 4:56
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