By Charles Sanft c 2007-2011
This is an outline of how to create Chinese characters in Windows XP using the built-in character editing
program, “eudcedit.exe.” These instructions try to give enough detail so that anybody minimally computer-
savvy can use them. At the same time, they are structured to facilitate skipping over steps you already
These directions are for using “eudcedit.exe” to make Chinese characters, but they work for other kinds of
characters, too, mutatis mutandis.
To comment, send an e-mail to web at charlessanft dot com.
IMPORTANT NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am in no way affiliated with Microsoft, Bill Gates,
Windows, or any other software or computer company. “Eudcedit.exe” and “Character Map”
and all their contents, including the images in these directions, are the property of Microsoft. These
directions make only fair use of Microsoft property. I gain nothing from writing or sharing this. These
directions are free and as is. Use them at your own risk.
a. From the Windows “Start Menu,” choose “Run,” then type “eudcedit” in the box that appears.
b. That will open up the “Private Character Editor.” (If the program automatically opens a “select code”
box at this point, go to the next step [1.c].) (Diagram 2)
Note that the “character set” is Unicode, font is “all,” and file is “EUDC.” These are defaults for me.
c. Next, you need to choose the “code” that you’re going to create a character for. Click on “edit” then
“select code,” and something like this should appear: (Diagram 3)
Click on an empty box to select that code, then “ok.” As far as I can tell, any empty box is fair game. There
may be more in the list; use the arrows at the right to scroll vertically and see them. (If you’ve already been
creating characters, they will be in some of these boxes. Other boxes are occupied by characters from installed
font sets. Don’t use those or you will overwrite the previous occupants.)
You should then see an empty “Edit” window: (Diagram 4)
You’re ready to create a character.
The fun begins here. If you’re confident, you can jump right in and start drawing, skipping the following steps.
But I find it helpful to put together pieces copied from other characters. They usually look better. Those
characters you copy from are “reference characters.” To make use of them, you have to open a “reference
a. Opening the “reference window”
To open the reference window, click “Window” at the top of the Private Character Editor and select
“Reference.” (Diagram 5)
Then you’ll see the reference box. (Diagram 6)
Now you’ll need to select a character for reference.
b. Selecting a reference character
The first time you do this in any session, you must click the “Font” button on the “Reference” window (visible
in diagram 6, at the bottom, to the right of “OK” and “Cancel”). Then select whatever font it is that you want
to use the character in (I like MingLiU) before doing anything else. You won’t need to do this again until you
restart the Private Character Editor (unless you want to change the font).
If you use a font different from the one you use for entering Chinese text, you will still be able to make and use
new characters, but the result may look out of place in the final text.
Then, if the cursor is not already in the “shape” box (circled on diagram 6 above), click there. If your IME (i.e.,
the Chinese input system) is not already turned on, turn it on.
Think of a character that shares a part with the graph you want to make. If you can think of one that has that part
in the same position (e.g., as top radical, left side radical, etc.) or the same size, that will save you work later, as
it will have proportions closer to your goal.
When you are doing this for real, you will want to plan things a bit, as you can save time and trouble by selecting
your reference parts in a sequence to make assembling the whole easier (this may seem confusing, but should
become clear with experimentation and / or experience).
Type the character in the “Shape” box by the usual method. Something like this will appear: (Diagram 7)
You now have two way to choose the reference character.
(1) You can click “ok” or hit “enter” and use the character you entered.
(2) Notice that many other graphs are also listed. They are grouped by radical. You can scroll vertically to see
even more. It might be worth taking a moment to look and see if one has a part more like what you need than
your original choice. If you find a better candidate than your original, click it with the mouse.
After you do one of the above, you’ll see a “reference window” with the graph you chose: (Diagram 8)
Now you’re ready to copy from the character.
c. Copying from the character in the reference window
You can copy any part or parts of the reference character, from single strokes to the whole thing. When you
select and copy a part, it will retain its original size. When you copy groups, they will retain relative size and
Note that any strokes touching each other in the character as written will form a single part and be copied
together. Similarly, separate strokes are separate parts.
c.1. Selecting the part(s) to copy
Note that there is a tool bar on the left side of the Character Editor. (Diagram 9)
There is a dotted rectangle on the toolbar. That is the rectangular select tool. Just under it is an irregular
shape. That is the freehand select tool. (Both are circled with red in diagram 9). Each has its uses; experiment
to gain familiarity with them. Use one to surround the area you want to copy on the reference graph. This will
“select” it. Note that even if you use the freehand tool, the selection will appear to be marked with a rectangle
once you’re done selecting (try it and you’ll see what I mean). (Diagram 10)
Copy the selection (either by pressing Ctrl-c or by going to edit – copy on the toolbar). Then do a paste
(either press Ctrl-v or edit – paste) and the selection will appear in the “Edit” window. (Diagram 11)
Alternately, you can click with the mouse on the selection in the reference window and drag it to where you
want it in the edit window.
c.2 Working with the copied part(s)
While the copied selection is marked with the highlighted rectangle (as in diagram 11), you can move the
copied selection freely by clicking it with your mouse and sliding. You can also click on the highlighting
squares to re-size the selection. When you re-size, proportions change.
Note that the copied selection always appears at the top of the “Edit” window, over anything already there.
As long as it is marked with the highlighted rectangle, you can move the selection as one piece, even if it’s on
top of something else. Once you de-select, it merges with anything behind it.
Alternately, if you click on the edit window to de-select the copied selection, you can then use the select tools
(circled in diagram 9) in the “Edit” window to select part(s) of the copied selection to move or delete.
Repeat steps “b. Selecting a character for reference” and “c. Copying from the character in the ‘reference
window’” as needed to get the pieces you need to make your character.
Example (Diagram 12)
I made this out of parts from two different graphs.
d. Changing and adding to copied parts
In my example (diagram 12), the pieces I want are there, but the character doesn’t look quite right. So I want
to adjust it. The various tools for changing and/or drawing characters are in the toolbar at the left of the “Edit”
window. (Diagram 13)
All of these except the select tools are for drawing and changing characters. I do almost all of my work
with just two of these:
1) the pencil, which draws one pixel at a time. (Diagram 14)
2) the eraser, which erases one pixel at a time. (Diagram 15)
Experiment. Delete. Draw in. Move bits around (by selecting and dragging with the mouse). Do what you
need to whip your character into shape. Get ready to save it.
Saving is easy. Press Ctrl+s or go to “Edit” and select “Save.”
I’ve only found one way to use the created characters (if you don’t count recording the numerical code and
entering it directly). This makes use of the “Character Map” built into Windows XP. To start it, from the
Start menu go to “All Programs,” then “Accessories,” “System Tools,” and “Character Map.” (Diagram 16)
This will open the Character Map. At the top is a place to select the font. Choose “All Fonts (Private
Characters),” which is at the top of the list. (Diagram 17)
Your created characters should be there. Click the character you want with the mouse. Click “Select” down
below, then “Copy.”
The character is now copied and can be pasted into your word processing (or other) program, like any other text.
IMPORTANT: Note that you may need to adjust the font size or the vertical position of the created character
after pasting it into your text to make the graph look right. (You can do this with format – font – character spacing
in Microsoft Word.)
Unfortunately, these characters rarely match the built-in set perfectly, and often look a bit off kilter. But copying
pieces from the same font set you type with is a big improvement over mouse calligraphy (not to mention writing
in by hand on a paper copy).
5. final notes
If you use a phonetic method for entering Chinese text, you might want to check in a large dictionary (Hanyu
dacidian, Ciyuan, etc.) for alternate pronunciations before you start creating characters. The graph you seek
could be in the standard IME character set under another pronunciation.
Much of this information is based on what is contained in the “Help” section of the Private Character Editor.
Please look there for more information. Write to Microsoft if you find it hard to understand.
I also consulted with great profit Chris Dakin’s “Character Creation in Windows 2000” (online at
http://students.washington.edu/cdakin/Character_Creation_in_Windows_2000.pdf, last accessed
30 October 2006) while learning to make characters. Unfortunately it seems to no longer be available.