Han

Updated Sun 21 Oct 2014 • tags ideographic, chinese, scriptnotes

This page provides information about the characteristics of the simplified script used to write Chinese. It is not intended to be exhaustively scientific – merely to give a basic idea of the essential features of the script. Number of characters is based on the simplest list of exemplarCharacters in CLDR.

Sample (Simplified Chinese)

当世界需要沟通时,请用Unicode!将于1997年310日-12日在德国 Mainz 市举行的第十届统一码国际研讨会现在开始注册。本次会议将汇集各方面的专家。涉及的领域包括:国际互联网和统一码,国际化和本地化,统一码在操作系统和应用软件中的实现,字型,文本格式以及多文种计算等。

Script name

Han

Script type ideographic
Number of characters (CLDR) 2137
Case distinction no
Combining characters 0
Multiple combining characters no
Context-based positioning no
Contextual shaping no
Cursive script no
Many more glyphs than characters? no
Text direction ltr / tb-rl
Baseline low
Space is word separator no
Wraps at character
Justification inter-character
Native digits? yes
Special features complex glyphs

Click on the orange text in the features list (right column) to see examples and notes. Click on highlighted text in the Sample section to see the characters. Click on the vertical blue bar, bottom right, to change font settings.

Text direction

Chinese can be set both horizontally and vertically. Horizontal lines are read left-to-right. Vertical lines are read top-to-bottom, and progress from right to left across the page.

If your browser supports vertical text, you can change the direction of the sample above using this control:  

Spaces

Chinese rarely uses spaces. In the sample text there are gaps around punctuation, but these are produced by a lack of 'ink' in parts of the square character glyphs:

You can verify this by clicking on the highlighted text. You'll see only three characters make up this sequence, and none are spaces.

Wrapping text at line end

Lines are normally wrapped between characters – word boundaries have no significance for the wrapping. Chinese should, however, take into account a few rules which dictate what characters cannot appear at the end or start of a line.

For example, if your browser supports Chinese wrapping correctly, and if you vary the width of the browser window, it should be impossible to get the chinese comma in the highlighted example to appear at the beginning of a line. (Hint: increase the font size to 72px to make this easier.)

Justification

Chinese justifies text using a complex set of rules which adjust the space between characters on a line. Some characters are adjusted before others.

To see how your browser justifies Chinese text, use this control:

Character list

This is the lists of characters (exemplarCharacters) used by Simplified Chinese according to CLDR. There are many thousands more characters that can be used in Chinese. Click on the Punctuation subsection title to see detailed information about the characters.

Main

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Punctuation

_ ﹏ - — , 、 ; : ! ? … 。 · ‘ ’ “ ” ( ) [ ] 〈 〉 《 》 ﹁ ﹂ ﹃ ﹄ 【 】 〔 〕 ~

Auxiliary

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First published 16 Dec 2002. This version 2015-02-16 11:50 GMT.  •  Copyright r12a@w3.org. Licence CC-By.