How can I get better at reading handwriting? Are there fonts that look like it, or web sites with examples for practice? Are there some common shortcuts that people take when writing by hand?

  • For Q3 - there are, but I don't know them well enough. One think I do know is very common, at least on the mainland, is using the Japanese の in place of 的
    – JIStone
    Dec 13, 2011 at 21:37
  • I've never seen の used anywhere on the mainland - does it tend to be used in particular scenarios?
    – Cocowalla
    Dec 13, 2011 at 21:48
  • @Cocowalla I recall seeing の in the mainland when I was there a while back. It was on some ad I believe. I was pretty surprised though, since it's hiragana.
    – mugetsu
    Dec 13, 2011 at 23:28
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    @JIStone: that's clever, because 的 has way too many strokes to be the most commonly used character :D
    – Petruza
    Dec 13, 2011 at 23:30
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    @JIStone I doubt you have seen の in China mainland not where a Japanese restaurant or something like that. Maybe you saw is a symbol like の or δ which used to replace second character in a repeated word like 高高兴兴
    – Alex Chen
    Dec 15, 2011 at 4:06

4 Answers 4


I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier and I'm even more surprised no one thought of this before me, well, I'm sure someone did just didn't find it on the internet.

I was installing fonts and noticed some of the fonts that came with my operating system - OS X Mountain Lion - was cursive Chinese. So a thought occurred to me. Cut and paste the same text but format each version with different fonts and compare. This has really helped me learn how to read cursive better. Bonus is it's free and customizable. Hope this helps. The middle font really isn't cursive, but it's blocky handwriting and different enough from "standard" text to see a slight contrast.

Sample of KaiTi, XingKai and kid-like block HW font Sample calligraphy fonts

Here is a page where you input a couple of words and it'll render them in different handwritten fonts: http://font.chinaz.com/tag_font/CaoShuZiTi.html

I also bought this book from the US Amazon store and recommend it.

enter image description here

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    Here's a link for Chinese Cursive Script on amazon: amazon.com/Chinese-Cursive-Script-Introduction-Publications/dp/…
    – alxndr
    Dec 19, 2013 at 20:41
  • That looks a nice cursive typeface. What's the name of it?
    – user58955
    Mar 29, 2014 at 23:46
  • XingKai SC, it's built into OS X. Not sure how to get it on Windows/Linux.
    – Steve
    Mar 30, 2014 at 10:59
  • @Steve Could you hand out a copy of it? This resource is not available at my university library, and currently I cannot afford acquiring one.
    – GJC
    Oct 26, 2017 at 8:16

I have been able to purchase in China books that have different styles of handwriting including shortcuts. They also have a layer of thin paper over the top of each page so you can trace.

You can also look for books that show common characters written in different styles from print, traditional to script etc.

This is not something you will be taught unless you pay someone to go through with you, as it's not commonly taught in classes.


The modern handwriting scripts of Chinese characters are 楷书, 行书 and 草书.

楷书 is the standard and official handwriting script, which is made up by 笔画 (strokes) and looks like printing script. It is the only handwriting script taught in primary schools in China, because it is the only legal standard of handwriting script.

行书 is the handwriting script that writes much faster and much more scrawled than 楷书. It is a shortcut of Chinese characters. 行书 connects several strokes together as if one stroke in order to write faster.

草书 is the handwriting script that writes much faster and much more scrawled than 行书. It is a better shortcut of Chinese characters, because it connects more strokes and even omits many strokes, in order to write much faster. However, 草书 is too scrawled to be recognized even by native Chinese speakers.

For most of the native Chinese adults, 行书 is used in handwriting, because 楷书 writes too slowly and 草书 is too difficult to recognize.




  • Where did you get the 行书 and 草书 samples? Are they available as a font?
    – Steve
    Jan 20, 2014 at 15:21
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    @Steve Yes, they are. There are some computer fonts for 行书 and 草书 for special use, although 行书 and 草书 are handwriting scripts and are seldom used in printing. Some fonts are even free of charge. Click here and here to download some free computer fonts for 行书 and 草书.
    – Victor
    Feb 4, 2014 at 0:39

I don't think that you are taught to write "cursive" in Chinese, most of it is something people just adapt naturally. You just need a really good grasp of characters to understand it. Sometimes people write fast and tend to simplify parts. There is no standard mold for cursive like in english.

But what you can do is read a lot of handwritten documents, just doing that will allow you to see the patterns of how people write.

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    there are more or less standard abbreviations aren't there?? like 口 becoming something that looks more like Ω rotated 90 degrees clockwise.
    – jsj
    Dec 15, 2011 at 4:14
  • not true. the rules of grass script went into a lot of simplified characters, and when you write cursive, you integrate those rules with other common practices.
    – magnetar
    Dec 25, 2011 at 18:54

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