Use this tool to add tone marks to pinyin or to convert tone number (e.g. hao3) to tone marks.

Although you can use the red buttons to add tone marks, we highly recommend you use the number method (e.g. hao3) for speed and placement of the accent above the correct vowel. [Hint: Type "v" for "ü"]
Note: You do not need to use this tool to enter pinyin in this dictionary.

How to Use the Written Chinese Online Dictionary

Written Chinese > How to Use the Written Chinese Online Dictionary

Many of you already know that Written Chinese has experienced a few changes over the last few years, the most significant was saying bye to our Written Chinese Dictionary app (5555). 

But, it’s not the end of the world! Our Online Dictionary is still alive and kicking and an essential tool for learning Chinese! 

If you haven’t used the Online Dictionary before or you’re brand new to learning Chinese, here’s some advice on how to use it.

First, go to the Online Dictionary. Why not save it to your bookmarks for easy access later?


One of the nice things about the Online Dictionary is that you can search in English, Chinese characters and even Pinyin! 

If you use Pinyin and English you’ll probably get lots of search results to choose from. For example, if you search for ‘bei’, you’ll get 11 Commonly Found Characters. Searching using Chinese will get fewer results.

If you want to search using Chinese characters, first you’ll need to install a Chinese keyboard.

You can search using Chinese, even if you’re quite new to Chinese characters. 

For example, if you’re looking for the character 北 as in 北京, you may already know that the pinyin is ‘bei’ (běi).

Once you’ve switched to the Chinese Pinyin keyboard (mac: ctrl + space / windows: alt + shift), simply type ‘bei’ into the search box. You’ll see the most commonly used characters that have ‘bei’ as their pinyin. Select the character you’re looking for, either with your mouse or by pressing the corresponding number on your keyboard)

Search results for 北


– When searching in English, use American English or usage

– Search for single English words and not sentences

– Click ‘Learn More’ on a character or characters you’re interested in

– When searching using Pinyin for a word containing a marker such as ǚ (nǚ), use the letter ‘v’ in place of the ‘u’.


Once you’ve got your results, you’ll see some basic information about the characters or Chinese words (we call them bigrams). This may be enough depending on the reason for your search, but clicking the ‘Learn More’ button next to the character, will take you to the ‘details page’.

Every character and Chinese word (bigram) details page includes:

– Stroke animations that you can stop and replay

– Audio

– Radical breakdown (what’s a radical? [link to relevant article])

– Common Chinese words

– Example sentences with clickable characters

TIP: If you prefer not to see the coloured pinyin, you can change your settings where it says ‘tone’


If you’re writing and want to include pinyin, or even want to search the dictionary using pinyin, you can use the Pinyin Editor tool.

The tool gives you access to all the different tone markers, including the more unusual ones, ǚ ǖ ǘ and ǜ. 

If you scroll right to the bottom of the Online Dictionary, you’ll find a list of links to Chinese characters by stroke number.