I've mainly been learning to read/write Chinese using computer based software as opposed to going to lessons etc.

However, I've realised that there is a small handfull of characters that look different handwritten and on the computer (and sometime there seems to be variations between fonts as well)

For example: 聚

I've seen it written once, and the bottom looks very different (so much so that I didn't recognise the character!)

Is there a rule of thumb for variations between handwritten/computer fonts? Also, is it acceptable if I hand write characters in "computer form"?


edit: adding picture...

'ju4' two fairly different representations

From: http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=chardict&cdcanoce=0&cdqchi=%E8%81%9A.

As you can see, those two characters (both 聚) seem quite different. If I remember correctly, the large black one is more similar to the handwritten one I saw (whereas the blue one is the one I usually see on the computer/mobile).

Note: I'm fairly sure this isn't a case of simplified vs traditional.

  • possible duplicate of Reading handwriting
    – going
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 2:59
  • Thanks for your question! This question has been covered in the linked one above. I suggest you review that question and its answers. If what you are asking is not covered there, you can edit your question to ask something specific.
    – going
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 3:01
  • I had a look at that question before asking this one. I guess I'm more so asking what characters look different when in print (vs handwritten), as opposed to learning to read cursive/shortcuts/slang handwriting.
    – pyko
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 4:29
  • 3
    That's just the different between fonts used in Mainland and Taiwan, not computer form and handwriting. I can't type the upper one in my computer because of lack of fonts.
    – Kabie
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 5:17
  • @Kabie ic ic, opened word and tested out a few fonts - indeed depending on font the character changes. Do you know which is used in Mainland and which in Taiwan?
    – pyko
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 6:13

5 Answers 5


Ok, this is similar to another question about why certain people refer to 土豆 as peanuts and some as potato and some other people as something else.

Prior to the official process of simplification of characters there has already been different ways in which people were simplifying writing different characters, it didn't just happen overnight. So for certain characters and certain parts of characters there was already different ways of writing these.

And as per the language example above these traveled and certain simplifications were set in certain parts of the country so that there were regional differences. This in turn created sets of written characters used in different regions.

You can switch the character set your browser is using, but most pages now are served in Unicode.

I assume whatever encoding your browser has is not a standard Chinese font or Unicode. My Firefox browser detects the page as Unicode and it displays as follows:

enter image description here


In answer to your question in the comments above as to which one is the right one for you to use?

Your best bet in answering a question like this is checking a dictionary. That way you can be sure you have the right one. The other resource you can use for this is wiktionary http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E8%81%9A

You can also see variants of characters at this site, including yours here: http://chardb.iis.sinica.edu.tw/variants.jsp?cid=19626 but this doesn't provide information if or where this is being used.

  • Changing to Unicode in Chrome doesn't seem to make a difference, but using Firefox shows the same as what you've got above. Now I'm slightly less confused knowing it is the encoding/font causing the difference. Thanks!
    – pyko
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 6:47
  • @pyko - When I get home from work I will check it out in Chrome and have a look
    – going
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 7:08
  • @pyko - Can I ask what operating system you are using? I suspect you are missing fonts as suggested below.
    – going
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 7:39
  • 1
    I'm using a mac. I don't think it's a missing font issue (can see the character as you guys see it in firefox and also when I bring up word/pages and play around with the fonts). I'm thinking it is the default Chinese font used for Mac that is to blame (quick google gives: zonble.github.com/tcfail/en.html)
    – pyko
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 12:40

I believe this happens because your PC lacks some fonts to show characters correctly. In my firefox, both of them are the same, no problem. I want to show the difference caused by fonts here below:

The font we used are(from top to bottom) Arial,Century Gothic,DejaVu Serif,RomanD,Times New Roman,仿宋_GB2312,黑体,楷体_GB2312,宋体. Have you seen the big difference between fonts for English letters and font for Chinese characters(3 characters at the beginning and the last character)? Even with different fonts for Chinese characters, there are some little differences. Usually, we use "宋体","仿宋" in print.

enter image description here


You're right that this isn't the case of the simplified/traditional distinction, but I don't think it's a matter of handwriting and printing either.

According to ZDic, 聚 is the orthodox form (which was regarded as standard in the 1716 Kangxi dictionary) and is currently the standard form in mainland China (and also in Japan and Korea). As for 聚, ZDic says it is standard in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

  • 1
    It's also possible that sometimes computer will use Japanese kanji if Chinese is not the system language.
    – Lucius Hu
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 22:56

In your picture, the one in blue is more traditional than the one in black (if that makes sense). As people will understand both forms of the character, it doesn’t really matter how you write it, as long as you are consistent with the way you do (not some simplified and some traditional). Most fonts should be the same (as the picture shows in Huang’s answer), but I suggest that you write your characters “computer-style” because pen and paper are soon to be extinct :( There are some big differences between similar characters in simplified and traditional Chinese, but you shouldn’t copy the traditional form if you are to write in simplified Chinese. Hope this answer helps you.


I use font type microsoft YaHei and the characters look very standard. I decided to change to another font because I had the same problem and I solved changing to this font.

Hope this help Fvazquez

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