Is there a way to type radicals on a computer? I'd like to insert some in a document I'm writing but I'm not sure how to write those that don't correspond to an actual word. Any tips? Thanks!
Wubi method is known to support typing radicals easily, but it will take quite some time to learn.
一 - ggl 丨 - hhl 丿 - ttl 丶 - yyl 衤 - 衤
You could also go to http://www.inputking.com and type shu, then select the appropriate character.
I would rather recommend Cangjie input method. It's not pinyin-based.
For example, 「亻」 is 「竹中」（i.e. 丿丨）.
It's very easy-to-learn. You can combine the use of pinyin and cangjie.
I agree with the Cangjie comment to the extent you are actually putting in radicals rather than pinyin, but the draw back is it is four corners based so the order or even which part of a radical you put in is based on a set of rules. The original system could make random characters, but now they have it compare the potentials with the Unicode set or such. If you search ANKI web I had a set of flashcards for learning to type with Cangjie.
The other "radical" input method is Wubi which is based on the stroke order since any character can be narrowed down by the first five strokes again. Both of these inputs are based on 5^24, neither uses x or z except as a modifier, keys iterations mapped to 50k character sets. I could never find an English typing tutor for Wubi and experimenting with it the results were seemingly random. Too many iterations.
There is a windows application which lets you input radicals and place them by location within the character, but I can't remember the name. I had it running under Wine on my Ubuntu system a couple of years ago.
What is really needed is hand writing recognition input that lets you write the radical and then place it in the place location with in the character. I don't know of any hand writing recognition that lets you choose the radical you are writing to lock it in. This would also help visual learners like myself to find characters with similar radicals. Chineasy is such a teaching method buts its only on paper.
Yup! I was selling it again.
There is a popular Chinese input method engine called 'Rime'. It's open source. It's cross-platform: 小狼毫 for Windows, 鼠须管 for OS X, and ibus-rime or fcitx-rime for all distros of Linux. It's fast, clean and powerfully configurable!
And! among so many default schemas there is one, called 'Stroke', use the basic 5 strokes to type in characters. It is the dish for everybody! Default key bindings: 横h，竖s，撇p，点n，折z(You can change the key bindings to your own taste). And it's used mixed with Pinyin by default.
How to get it: