I think most people know the basic rules of character writing, like from top to bottom, left to right, etc., but it seems that the rules don't work at all when it comes to cursive writing.

Question: Does cursive have any order logic, even if its own? What are they?


3 Answers 3


If you're not too concerned about aesthetics, and more about functional cursive balancing your own writing speed and other people's reading comprehension, just build upon regular script stroke orders.

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「鬱」, written in 7 strokes;「飛」, written in 3 strokes;「龜」, written in 2 strokes.

You have to re-order some regular script stroke orders, focusing on the following:

  • Abbreviate dense part of characters with a generic scribble which can capture the outline. The detail and exact shape of highly dense portions of characters does not impede reading comprehension.
  • Think carefully about where the next part of the character starts, and try to reorder the strokes to minimise pen movement.

I suggest using a semi-cursive to cursive style rather than a fully cursive style, like the example of「龜」above. If other people and standard handwriting recognition programs can read your writing, then you're doing something right.

enter image description here

Semi-cursive works okay for Pleco handwriting (「鬱」and「飛」). Full cursive does not (「龜」), but Apple's handwriting recognition does a fairly good job.

  • So you're saying you can use any order you want as long as everybody can read? Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 14:05
  • 1
    @EnricoBrasil for complex characters, that's kind of true. For simple characters it's not, because they're harder to distinguish from each other if you write in cursive, so stroke order is one of the ways the character is identified by. But this is besides the point - to maximise writing speed and maintain legibility, there's only a narrow range of acceptable stroke orders for all characters anyway.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 22:45

I doubt there will be a universal rule, but the top-to-bottom, left-to-right rule remains usually the case.

Purists might object, but I suggest you use some database and compare the 楷書 and 行書, to get some ideas how they are simplified, like: 行书字体转换器

A very interesting violation of the left-to-right rule is 犬: 「類」简化后为什么要把形旁「犬」的一点去掉--趙瑾昀答


Yes, the overall rules are same, top-bottom, left-right...

But for some specific characters, the orders are different from the regular one to archive its form.

enter image description here

There is no simple rule list, Chinese learn cursive writing character by character from calligraphy guide. They will teach you most common characters' orders.

For fully cursive 草书, that is totally different from regular and semi-regular, but it still has orders. It is like another system.

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