As explained in General Remarks, the first step in the procedure for finding a character is to determine which component in a character is the first in the order established by the MCT. On this page some examples will be given of how representatives can help the user to do this quickly. This description is based on the paperback edition, and so the user will have to use the page numbers listed in the MCT and in the Series Header Tables to get to the indicated spot. For users who own the e-book edition things are a little easier, as they only have to click the first component found in the MCT, or the header in the series header list.
Example 1: 螃 – First we note that it contains several components. At the left side is a radical (虫). As is explained in General Remarks, we do not have to consider radicals in this first step, as they only come into play at the lowest level, that of the series. Therefore, we focus on 立 and 方. (In fact, there is another component between these two, which is also a radical). As both consist of mainly oblique or slanting strokes, they should probably be located in the first half of the MCT. Checking the list with representatives above, we see that 立 is similar to the representative of category 1, while 方 is somewhat similar to one of the representatives of category 7 (力), and so we conclude that 立 in category 1 is the first component, as it is nearest the beginning of the MCT. We can now be certain that the character can be found in section 1, in the CT of 立, with 方 as second component.
Example 2: 握 – After removing the radical at the left, we split the remainder into 尸 and 至. The former is similar to one of the representatives of category 5, but the latter can be split again into two parts. The top part contains ㄙ, the representative of category 3, and the bottom part is similar to 土, the representative of category 14. The top part of 至 is therefore the component with the highest priority (nearest the beginning of the MCT) and to find the character we have to turn to the header table at the beginning of section 3 to find the header of the series containing the character.
Example 3: 盛 – It obviously consists of two components: 成 and 皿. As the latter is a radical, we can ignore it for the time being. Where to look for 成? It contains the representative of category 4 (弋) and also of the second subcategory of category 5 (厂). Because 弋 is nearer the beginning of the MCT, it has a higher priority, and the character should therefore be located in section 4. Next we have to turn to the beginning of section 4 to find the series header of the series containing the character.