What’s the difference between Simplified and Traditional Chinese writing forms?

Apr 30, 2013 | Language

Chinese writing materialsWhen looking for Chinese translators, people may be confused about the two written forms of Chinese text: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

However, theoretically, a Chinese speaker can switch between the two forms, with the main difference being in the method of writing the Chinese characters. It is possible to simply convert characters from one writing form to another using software but we would not recommend that non-Chinese speakers try this!

Here is a simple comparison table to help non-Chinese speaking people gain a quick and easy grasp of the two Chinese written forms:

Simplified Chinese (SC)

Traditional Chinese (TC)

Used in

Mainland China, SingaporeHong Kong, Taiwan


With fewer strokes and easier to writeTakes longer to write


Adopted since the establishment of today’s P.R. China in 1949Written by Chinese people for thousands of years; still used in Hong Kong & Taiwan because of the political separation with mainland China


New words, such as internet and software, may have different local versions in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively.

Above all, translators who work in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese need to familiarise themselves with the style and wording of the target language, and make sure to use the correct terminology for specific terms.

Guest post by Crystal Liu.