Any character can be found by the following method:
- Split the character into components, using the Main Components Table (MCT) as a guide. Next, determine which is first in the order defined by the MCT, while ignoring frequently used radicals that stand apart from the main body (or phonetic) of the character. For the paperback: Note the number of the category and turn to the page number shown in the right-hand column. For the e-book: Click on this first component.
- Scan the header list of the first component to locate the series header/phonetic that fits best (most completely) into the character. For the paperback: Note the order number of the header in the list and turn to the page number shown in the right-hand column. For the e-book: Click on it.
- Find the series and locate the character.
For example, how to find 淘?
(1) First we split it into 氵, 勹, and 缶. The first of these is what most people familiar with Chinese dictionaries will recognize as a radical. These are components that refer to the meaning of the character, and in standard dictionaries they are used to locate and sometimes also to order characters. In the CCD they are only used to order characters within the series, and therefore do not play a role for locating the series itself. Therefore 氵can be ignored in the first step, and we concentrate instead on the other two, that form the phonetic of this character, the part that indicates the sound.
First note that 勹 consists mainly of slanting strokes, while 缶 consists mainly of horizontal and vertical strokes. It is therefore likely that 勹 is located in the first part of the MCT, while 缶 is probably located in the second part. Checking the MCT, it seems that 勹 mostly resembles the representative of the second category, so we check the components in the second category of the MCT and find 勹 at the second position.
Now let’s check the position of 缶 too. Scanning the representatives of the second half first, we see that the representative of category 13 (which is “十”) is contained by this component, and looking through the list with components in that category we see that it has 缶 as member. Therefore, it is certain that 勹 in the second category is the first component and 缶 in category 13 the second. Consequently, we turn to section 2 of the CCD to check out the series header table.
(2) In this step we have to check the header list of component 勹, which can be found at the beginning of section 2. Scanning the header list of 勹 we see that the header that fits best into our character is the one at position 10. We also see that the CT of 勹 begins on page 69. We therefore turn to that page.
(3) In this step we have to locate the series with the character we are looking for, and locate the tenth series of the CT of 勹, which we find on page 73:
Example 2: How to find 厥?
(1) We can split it into 屰, 厂, and 欠. Of these, 厂 and 欠 are radicals, so only 屰 remains as MCT component and this must be our first component. In order to find the category this component belongs to we check the MCT. As 屰 contains a slanting stroke it could be in the first half, for example in category 5, which features components with a horizontal and slanting stroke. As we cannot find it, we have to check other categories with a suitable representative that fits into this component or is almost similar in shape. The only other alternative is category 15, that as 凵 as one of its representatives, and which fits into it. Indeed, we find 屰 on the fourth position in the subcategory headed by 凵. We therefore turn to section 15 to check the header table.
(2) Scanning the header list of 屰 in the header table of section 15 on page 508-509 we see that both 欮 and 厥 fit into the character, and as the latter fits best we have to choose that one as our series header. We also note that the CT of 屰 begins on page 531.
(3) Turning to the third series of the CT of 屰 on page 531 we find the character looked for:
You will find more examples in the 30-page introduction of the CCD.
Next: Header Tables