Regular script

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Regular script
Script type
Time period
c. 2nd century – present
LanguagesClassical Chinese, vernacular Chinese varieties
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Regular script
"Regular script" written in traditional (left) and simplified (right) forms
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese楷書
Simplified Chinese楷书
Literal meaningmodel script
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese真書
Simplified Chinese真书
Literal meaningreal script
Second alternative Chinese name
Literal meaningcorrect model
Third alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese楷體
Simplified Chinese楷体
Literal meaningmodel form
Fourth alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese正書
Simplified Chinese正书
Literal meaningcorrect script
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet
  • khải thư
  • chữ khải
  • 楷書
  • 𡨸楷
Japanese name

The regular script[a] is the newest of the Chinese script styles, popular starting from the Three Kingdoms period c. 200 CE, and stylistically mature by the 7th century. It is the most common style used in modern text. In its traditional form it is the third-most common in publishing after the Ming and Gothic types used exclusively in print.[1]


Sheng Jiao Xu by Chu Suiliang,[b] an example of regular script

The Calligraphy Manual of the Xuanhe Era (宣和書譜; Xuānhé Shūpǔ) credits Wang Cizhong [zh] with creating the regular script, based on the clerical script of the early Han dynasty. It became popular during the Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms periods,[2] with Zhong Yao (c. 151 – 230 CE),[3] a Cao Wei calligrapher, being credited as its first master, known as the "father of the regular script". His famous works include the 宣示表; Xuānshì Biǎo, 薦季直表; Jiànjìzhí Biǎo, and 力命表; Lìmìng Biǎo. Qiu Xigui[2] describes the script in Xuanshi Biao as:

...clearly emerging from the womb of early period semi-cursive script. If one were to write the tidily written variety of early period semi-cursive script in a more dignified fashion and were to use consistently the pause technique [(; dùn)], used to reinforce the beginning or ending of a stroke when ending horizontal strokes, a practice which already appears in early period semi-cursive script, and further were to make use of right-falling strokes with thick feet, the result would be a style of calligraphy like that in the "Xuān shì biǎo".

However, very few wrote in this script at the time other than a few literati; most continued writing in the neo-clerical script, or a hybrid form of semi-cursive and neo-clerical.[2] The regular script did not become dominant until the early Northern and Southern dynasties in the 5th century; there was a variety of the regular script which emerged from neo-clerical as well as regular scripts[4] known as 魏楷; Wèikǎi; 'Wei regular' or 魏碑; Wèibēi; 'Wei stele'. Thus, the regular script is descended both from the early semi-cursive style as well as from the neo-clerical script.

The script is considered to have become stylistically mature during the Tang dynasty, with the most famous and oft-imitated calligraphers of that period being the 'Four Great Calligraphers of the Early Tang' (初唐四大家): Ouyang Xun, Yu Shinan, Chu Suiliang, and Xue Ji, as well as the 'Yan–Liu' tandem of Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan.

During the Northern Song dynasty, Emperor Huizong created an iconic style known as 瘦金體; 'Slender Gold'.[5] During the Yuan, Zhao Mengfu also became known for his own calligraphic style for the regular script, called 趙體; Zhàotǐ.

Ninety-two rules governing the fundamental structure of regular script were established during the Qing dynasty; the calligrapher Huang Ziyuan [zh] wrote a guidebook illustrating these rules, with four characters provided as an example for each.


The Eight Principles of Yong are said to include varieties of most strokes used in the regular script. Regular script characters with dimensions larger than 5 cm (2 in) are usually classified as 'large' (大楷; dàkǎi); those smaller than 2 cm (0.8 in) are usually classified as 'small' (小楷; xiǎokǎi), and those in between are 'medium' (中楷; zhōngkǎi).

Notable writings in the regular script include the Northern and Southern-era Records of Yao Boduo Sculpturing (姚伯多造像記) and Tablet of General Guangwu (廣武將軍碑), the Sui-era Tablet of Longzang Temple (龍藏寺碑), Tombstone Record of Sui Xiaoci (蘇孝慈墓誌), and Tombstone Record of Beauty Tong (董美人墓誌), and the Tang-era Sweet Spring at Jiucheng Palace (九成宮醴泉銘).

Derivative styles[edit]

  • Fangsong typefaces are based on a printed style which developed during the Song dynasty, from which Ming typefaces also developed.
  • The most common printed typeface styles, Ming and sans-serif, are based on the structure of regular script.
  • Japanese textbook typefaces (Japanese: 教科書体, romanizedkyōkashotai) are based on regular script, but modified so that they appear to be written with a pencil or pen. They also follow the jōyō kanji character forms.
  • Bopomofo, although not logographic, are virtually always written with regular script strokes.

Computer typefaces[edit]



  1. ^ Regular script is referred to by several related names in Chinese, including 楷書; kǎishū, 正楷; zhèngkǎi, 真書; zhēnshū, 楷體; kǎitǐ, and 正書; zhèngshū. In addition to its many Chinese names, regular script is also sometimes called 'block script',[6] 'standard script',[7] or even 'square style'[8] in English.
  2. ^ Transcription:



  1. ^ "Chinese Writing". Asia Society. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  2. ^ a b c Qiú 2000 p. 143
  3. ^ Qiú 2000 p. 142
  4. ^ Qiú 2000 p. 146
  5. ^ "Huizong | Chinese Art, Calligraphy & Poetry | Britannica". Retrieved 2023-09-30.
  6. ^ Gao, James Z. (2009), Historical Dictionary of Modern China (1800–1949), Scarecrow Press, p. 41.
  7. ^ "5 script styles in Chinese Calligraphy".
  8. ^ "Meaning of しんしょ in Japanese | RomajiDesu Japanese dictionary".


External links[edit]