Horizontal and vertical writing in East Asian scripts

Many East Asian scripts can be written horizontally or vertically. Chinese, Vietnamese Hán Nôm, Korean, and Japanese scripts can be oriented along either axis, as they consist mainly of disconnected logographic or syllabic units, each occupying a square block of space, thus allowing for flexibility for which direction texts can be written, be it horizontally from left-to-right, horizontally from right-to-left, vertically from top-to-bottom, and even vertically from bottom-to-top.

Horizontal writing
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese橫排
Simplified Chinese横排
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetviết ngang
Korean name
Hangul횡서 or 가로쓰기
Japanese name
Kanji横書き or 横組み
Hiraganaよこがき or よこぐみ
Vertical writing
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese縱排
Simplified Chinese纵排
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetviết dọc
Korean name
Hangul종서 or 세로쓰기
Japanese name
Hiraganaたてがき or たてぐみ
Kyūjitai縱書き or 縱組み
Shinjitai縦書き or 縦組み
An excerpt from The Cold Food Observance (寒食帖) by Song dynasty scholar Su Shi (蘇軾). The calligraphy is read in columns from top to bottom, from right to left.

Traditionally, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese are written vertically in columns going from top to bottom and ordered from right to left, with each new column starting to the left of the preceding one. The stroke order and stroke direction of Chinese characters (hanzi in Chinese, chữ Hán in Vietnamese, Hanja in Korean, and kanji in Japanese), Vietnamese chữ Nôm, Korean Hangul, and Japanese kana all facilitate writing in this manner. In addition, writing in vertical columns from right to left facilitated writing with a brush in the right hand while continually unrolling the sheet of paper or scroll with the left. Since the nineteenth century, it has become increasingly common for these languages to be written horizontally, from left to right, with successive rows going from top to bottom, under the influence of European languages such as English, although vertical writing is still frequently used in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, and Taiwan.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Horizontal and vertical writing in East Asian scripts, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.