I was taught to write in school (USA) by rotating the page about 15-30 degrees to get a more natural stroke. I actually find it difficult to write with the page completely square to my body.

I've been practicing Chinese characters off and on for years, and just today realized that I've been keep thing page square to myself, and that it's always felt a bit awkward, especially horizontal strokes. Today for the first time I decided to rotate the page slightly and it immediately felt more natural and efficient.

I was wondering if rotating the page is something that Chinese people do or are taught to do, or not.

I think I probably kept the page square because it helps me see the characters better. It was initially disorienting to rotate the page, but I'm going to experiment for a while to see if this can increase my comfort, and efficiency.



4 Answers 4


I wasn't taught this in schools in China! I think in elementary school, the suggested practice is to keep everything square and sit with straight back for the sake of good eyesight and posture.

Turning paper is more of a personal habit I reckon.

Just out of curiousity do you turn your head a bit when you write on turned paper as well?

  • Yes, you tip your head a little away from the writing hand. So usually to the left. Oct 13, 2018 at 1:52
  • I wasn't turning my head, but now that you mention it, it helps me see the characters better.
    – pixelearth
    Oct 13, 2018 at 5:54
  • @pixlearth yeah that make sense but not really a good habit for your neck/backbone i think. And all this turning paper around might just be a placebo that appears to make writing easier. I've seen people write English while turning paper/head as well but generally not good to health. Oct 13, 2018 at 15:53

We were not taught that, but we write the individual character with an angle naturally. It is hard to write a line parallel to the paper and the table if the paper is also parallel to the table.

Some people move papers as they write, some rotate papers, some rotate their bodies...

I think this is very personal。


Don't rotate! Because if you rotate the paper, you may feel uncomfortable to read so you naturally 'rotate' your sitting position, which may hurt your health.


I'm not aware of anyone rotating the paper.

But consider that:

  • In the standard kaiti, horizontal lines are slightly higher on the right. They are exactly horizontal in modern printing fonts (songti or heiti), but most practices kaiti for handwriting.
  • I've heard that most English writers writes with a small angle between the pen and the paper, while most Chinese, including me, writes with the pen almost vertical (say 70 degrees).
  • I'm also told to not practice writing using a ball-point pen. Better use a fountain pen or a pencil, and some consider a gel-ink pen acceptable, but specifically not a ball point (the original oil-based with the thinnest refill).

These factors may or may not have contributed to the different ways of writing. I could only guess. If rotating the paper actually makes you feel better, you may try to figure out if the actual problem lies in these factors.

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