Hand-writing Chinese Addresses: The Cheater's Way 😜

I love receiving addresses in different alphabets! :heart_eyes: As we know, writing addresses in a country’s local script makes it a little easier on the mail carriers there, and there are lots of Postcrossers who provide their addresses in Chinese characters. Sadly, I do not know how to write any of these characters myself (…yet). The easiest solution to this problem is simply to print the address, cut it out, and attach it to the card. But if I hand-write addresses in Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, why not in Chinese, too? :thinking:

My main concern with simply copying the text by hand was that my characters would turn out huge, lopsided, awkwardly spaced, and ultimately illegible. :sweat: So I devised my own little way to write Chinese addresses that is…well, not as easy as using a printer, but in my opinion, a lot of fun! After sharing this process with the delightful @tulumu, she encouraged me to post it. :heart: So, here we go:

As an example, I will use the address of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
(Note: I had to create the line divisions, and since I cannot read the address myself, there is a high probability that I did it entirely wrong, or chopped a word in half. :joy: But I did my best, I promise! If it’s wrong, feel free to have a good laugh along with me as we pretend it’s correct! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

Here, I have printed out the address, in my desired font size, onto a scrap piece of paper and cut it out. Then, I have cut out a similarly-sized piece of tracing paper.

Next, I lay the tracing paper on top of the address and use masking tape (for easy removal) to adhere both pieces to a flat surface. (Here, I show the lightboard that I use in case I need extra illumination; in this case, it’s not necessary, as I am working in a bright area.)

Now, I trace the characters with a Micron pen! (I told you this was the cheater’s way! :smiling_imp:) The Micron pen (here, a #03) helps me draw the very fine lines and markings of each character. They are all so beautiful; each one deserves to be painted with a calligraphy brush, but…that’s not possible in size 14, so a Micron it is! :sweat_smile:

As you can see, I use a clear straight edge and typically draw all the horizontal lines at once, working row by row. Then I move to the verticals and the rest of the markings! (Yes…if you are wondering…I am a bit of a perfectionist. :grimacing:)

When I’m finished tracing, I carefully remove the masking tape from the tracing paper with the traced address. My next step is to apply double-sided adhesive tape (shown above) to the back, covering the whole area with the written address, so that it looks like this:


I use my straight edge and my trusty craft knife to cut the excess tracing paper and adhesive, creating what is basically a sticker:

(Yes, those are PinkNoodle’s fingers pressing down hard as an example. :joy:)

Next, I peel off the backing from my sticker and…

Et voilá! A hand-written (and probably formatted incorrectly) address in Chinese that is legible enough for a postcard to arrive at its destination! :partying_face: @tulumu made the hilarious observation that it looks as if someone hand-wrote text in Times New Roman, but if it means that the address is legible, then my work here is done! :rofl: :tada:

(Regarding the cat stamp in my mock postcard, I realized too late that I missed an opportunity to make it a “Fur-ever” stamp. :broken_heart:)

What do you think of my process? (Be honest! :laughing:) Do you have another way of writing Chinese addresses that you prefer?

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Wow It looks really great but I’m getting real tired just by looking at it :smiley:
However, the idea is really cool and deserves attention (I’m just too lazy and inexperienced for this) х)

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The handwritten address looking like computer font is really funny :rofl:
If I have to write my Chinese characters in such a font (rather than my usual handwriting), it would be so tiring for me… :upside_down_face: :upside_down_face: :upside_down_face:

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Haha yeah I have to admit this is quite a tricky way, but it does works :grin:
Sometimes the efficiency of China Post is quite disappointing :rofl:

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It does skip the hard parts of writing Chinese, including understanding the order the strokes are supposed to be made.

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Applauding the dedication! It looks super neat but I do think it’s quite funny that the first step is to literally print the address, haha. (But hey, tracing letters/characters is SO satisfying!)

I lost my Chinese skills over the years (grew up speaking, little writing/reading) but Postcrossing has been very motivating to get me back into it! My 2nd card was already an opportunity to write in Chinese and oh boy did it show I hadn’t practised in years :joy: Seeing you use the ruler sent me into nostalgic moments of learning the order of operations when it comes to writing Chinese, but I can imagine that doing it this way would be easier than to learn Chinese handwriting from scratch :sweat_smile:

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That’s pretty impressive. I’m afraid I’m too lazy to do it that way. I’d rather risk having the recipient make fun of my handwriting.

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Just the idea of this is hilarious to me. :joy: But if it makes it legible for the mail carriers, AND it can give the recipient a good laugh, then I don’t mind writing like a computer! :nerd_face:

You have to really want to do it. :sweat_smile: I tried this process once with Russian addresses and…it was much easier just to write them freehand, even if some of the letters were a bit…eccentric-looking.

@theoyan I am pleased to report that so far, all of my cards have made the journey! :partying_face: And maybe they puzzled the mail carriers along the way! :rofl:

@saintursula I hope the order is “all horizontals first,” because that’s what happens here! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Efficiency was never an option! :sweat_smile:

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It certainly looks great but I agree with others that I’d just be too lazy to do all that and I don’t have a lot of the tools required (knife? Well I guess I have kitchen ones… Double sided tape? I recently felt the urgency to buy some to try and make home made cards, but haven’t done it yet).
Most of all, I don’t have a printer. And to me, once the address is printed, it could be stuck to the card and off it goes :sweat_smile:

I have never heard of that type of pen… Is it waterproof? I live in fear of rain damaging addresses so if I get a new pen and I’m not sure, I write on a piece of scrap paper and throw water on it to test it!

I was too scared of copying Chinese addresses by hand for the longest time. Now I’ve done it a couple of times and at least the first attempt made it there…
(I learnt Cyrillic when I learnt Russian so I have no problems with that one).

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I think this seems like a really great idea! :grin:

Coming from someone who speaks Chinese, I myself get tired of writing Chinese addresses at times especially when the characters are more complicated, so I just opt for the English version anyway. :sweat_smile:

Anyway, to help with the splitting of the address into lines, this might help. This is a list of common terms in the address (for Chinese addresses) which I observed, and you can split the line right after these words if you run out of space:

  • 中国 (China)
  • 省 (province)
  • 市 (city)
  • 区 (district)
  • 街 (street) / 路 (road) - but usually it’s good to keep the number and 号 (number) in the same line as street / road, e.g. xx街2号 (xx Street No. 2)

Hope this helps :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Is this really important, or does it make difference in understanding? Already as a child I was told I made some letters “wrong”/in wrong order in Finnish, and probably still do. But, the letters look the same, so I wonder this. This was one of the reasons I feared trying to write Chinese.

Nowadays I write all addresses by hand.
I try to imagine there is stave in the card, which makes it a little easier to write.
And as I’ve noticed some terms appear often, I’ve made my own names to them, like:

province is “open beehive”
city is “merry-go-round horse”
and one looks like stick man in a sledge

so these become little easier, when I’ve done them several times.
And, for some reason I find it very relaxing to write in Chinese. Although it doesn’t look very pretty.

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The short answer is no, but just like writing every other language, knowing how to write Chinese characters correctly will make writing more efficient and legible. It’s a very old language, and I would assume that after all these years, people have already figured out the best order to write all those characters.

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@elikoa, you MUST treat yourself to a Micron! :heart_eyes: (I am not personally affiliated with the manufacturer; I’m just a fan!) The company states: “This permanent, fade resistant, chemically stable, pigment-based ink will not bleed or run if liquids are spilled on or applied to the document after the ink has dried.” I have not tested how waterproof it is, but it does dry fairly quickly and once it’s on, it’s on for good.

@whitefroststreetboi, this is super helpful–thank you! :smiley: I’ll save this for future reference! The line-splitting is obviously already done for me in Postcrossing addresses, but I needed to find a public address to use as an example for this–and I struggled finding one on an untranslated website. :sweat_smile:

@S_Tuulia, I often make up mnemonic devices like this, too! :cowboy_hat_face: The funnier they are, the easier they are to remember!

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Just like with Roman letters, writing them from the wrong starting point looks weird/a little disorienting when they’re written slowly. When you start writing faster/less carefully it becomes harder and harder to read. (Top two written slowly, bottom two quickly)

So for slowly copying characters, it probably doesn’t matter that much except that I don’t know that one can effectively see on a computer screen all of a character to reproduce it when it has 18 or 20 strokes to it.

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I don’t speak or read Chinese but I do read and write Japanese, and the characters are similar enough that I feel pretty confident that my Hanzi addresses are legible. I do sometimes blow up the font super large to make sure that I am seeing all the strokes for those very complex characters.

I don’t speak/read Russian either but after other Postcrossers encouraged me, I wrote some addresses in Cyrillic by hand. The cards arrived so it seems to have worked!

I don’t have a printer and printing at the library costs 10 cents a page so to save money I hand write all the addresses. It’s either try my hand at various scripts, or write in English only.

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Ok, thank you :slight_smile:
So, I think when my use is only the postcard addresses, it doesn’t matter so much, and I can write in what order it’s easiest for me. (How I love when I write like this, and a couple of years later the situation is very different :laughing:)

In school (art) we used a special brush and ink, so the direction was visible, and the movement and all, but I use a fine point pen, so the lines are equally thick.

I was also told, that if I miss a line, it’s completely different meaning, but I think it’s like that in all languages. Like in Finnish, is you miss a line in R, it becomes P, and if you “rakastat” = love someone, you “pakastat” = freeze someone instead.

I look the address from my phone, so I can enlarge it, although some are more challenging!

Sometimes, if the line is very long, I start writing from the end.

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As a person who knows Chinese, this is so funny to me. The process looks so tiring, kudos to you for doing this. It literally looks like you just printed it out instead of handwriting lmaoo

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@PinkNoodle that is a very interesting way of doing this. If I had a printer, and the other materials, I’d give it a try.
So far, when I received addresses in both latin letters and non-latin letters, I always opt for the non-latin one, hoping it will make my card arrive faster. The Chinese ones really take a while to write. I just try to copy it as good as I can. Luckily, the cards have always arrived and sometimes the recipients even praise me for my Chinese writing and claim that I have the talent for learning Chinese (which I’m not sure about. I think they were just being friendly :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:) but I have to say, I really like writing the Chinese addresses, it is as calming for me as, for example, coloring a mandala.

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Not gonna try :rofl: :clinking_glasses:

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I would never ever try it. :laughing: Way too complicated and requires so many tools I don’t have. I always write Chinese (and Cyrillic) addresses by hand, as I don’t have a printer and I want to save money and trees.

I took a course in Chinese around the time I joined postcrossing, and sure we learned to write characters and about the correct stroke order, but it’s so long ago. :sweat_smile: I try to apply what I learned then when I write Chinese addresses (from left to right, from up to down), but it doesn’t always help. :sweat_smile: But around 85 % of my cards to China have arrived in this way and some have commented that my handwriting is neat and looks like a child is trying to learn to write. I also like to challenge myself with Chinese characters. :slightly_smiling_face: :cn:

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