How to use the CCD?

First of all, it is important to note that the concept of radicals is treated in a different way from standard dictionaries:

  1. The term ‘radical’ is restricted to the components listed in Radical Tables 1 and 2 presented at the end of the printed books, or at the beginning of the e-books. They are to be treated as a radical only if they are standing apart from the phonetic part. For examples see Radical Tables 1 and 2, and for more info about how to correctly identify them as a radical see the section ‘Radicals’ in the Introduction of the book.
  2. Characters in the CCD can contain more than one radical. For example, a character like 繁 (fán) contains two radicals: 攵 with respect to 每 and 糸 with respect to 敏.

With this in mind, any character can be found by the following method:

  1. 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 all radicals. For the printed books: Note the number of the category and turn to the page number shown in the right-hand column. For the e-books: Click on this first component.
  2. Scan the header list of the first component to locate the series header that fits best (most completely) into the character (in other words: find the phonetic). For the printed books: Note the order number of the header/phonetic in the list and turn to the page number shown in the right-hand column. For the e-books: Click on the header/phonetic.
  3. Find the series and locate the character.


  1. 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 components, 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 the top part of 勹 resembles the representative of the second category, while the bottom part resembles somewhat the representative of category eight. Let’s first check the second category:

MCT cat 2 baoIndeed, 勹 is at the second position in the second category. Let’s also check the other component, 缶. Checking the MCT, it seems that it contains the representatives of categories 13 and 15. Let’s first check category 13:

MCT cat 13 tao

Looking through the list with components in category 13 we see that it has 缶 as member. Therefore, 勹 in category 2 is nearest the beginning of the MCT and it is certain that it is the first component and 缶 in category 13 the second.  Next, we turn the beginning of section 2, which is at page 54 to check out the series header table of section 2 (Or – in the e-books – we click on the first component).

(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 phonetic of 淘 can be found at position 10 (or position 9 in the SCCD). Next, we turn to the page number shown in the right-hand column (or click on the header/phonetic).

SHT 2 tao

(3) In the final step we have to locate the tenth (or ninth) series in the CT of 勹, and scan it to find the character we were looking for:

Tao example series


2. How to find 撅?

(1) We can split it into  扌, 屰, 厂, and 欠. Of these, 扌 , 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 a slanting stroke:

However, we cannot find it in this category, and so 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 has 凵 as one of its representatives, and which fits into it. Let’s check that category in the MCT:

MCT cat 15 cupIndeed, we find 屰 at the fourth position in the subcategory headed by 凵. We therefore turn to the beginning of section 15 to check the header table:

(2) Scanning the header list of 屰 in the header table at the beginning of section 15 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 595.

(3) Turning to the third series of the CT of 屰 we find the character looked for:


More examples can be found in the 30-page introduction of the CCD.

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