Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese)

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These guidelines mainly deal with the systematic titling of Chinese-related articles. For issues of style within the article text for articles related to China, please see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/China-related articles. If you disagree with any of the conventions, please discuss the issue within the talk page.


The titles of Chinese entries should follow current academic conventions, which generally means Hanyu Pinyin without tone marks. Pinyin is spaced according to words, not characters; the correct form of the title is Zizhi Tongjian, not "Zi Zhi Tong Jian" or "ZiZhi TongJian". Exceptions include:

  • When there is a clearly more popular form in English (such as Yangtze River)
  • When the subject uses a non-pinyin form of their name that is adopted by secondary sources

When an entry is not in pinyin form, a redirect to the article from the pinyin form could be helpful. Redirects from the old standard of romanization, Wade–Giles, are also useful, especially for articles of historical relevance. Italicise romanized Chinese to differentiate it from the English text.

To help you type pinyin, Wikipedia now has clickable characters with diacritics under the edit box; you can also use {{subst:pinyin|input}} which takes pinyin with tone numbers as input (eg. Lv3shun4kou3) and converts it to the preferred form with diacritics (Lǚshùnkǒu). Other options include Pinyinput or online converters such as Google Translate's phonetic reading function.

See Romanization of Chinese for further information and Cantonese systems.


Apostrophes are crucial in both Pinyin and Wade–Giles. In Wade–Giles, an apostrophe is a part of the syllable, while in Pinyin it serves as a syllable delimiter. In Mandarin, the syllable delimiting apostrophe is referred to as a '隔音符号' (géyīn fúhào).

Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation and Orthography gives the following rules for using the apostrophe in Hanyu Pinyin:

  1. Use when a syllable begins with a, o, or e, and follows another syllable: fāng'àn (方案), Cháng'é (嫦娥), Jiàn'ōu (建瓯).
  2. Do not use when the syllable starts a word: Àomén (澳門), or is separated by a hyphen: Rì-É Zhànzhēng (日俄战争)
  3. In the case of the erhua, omit the e in ér: tàngr (趟儿), gōngyuánr (公園兒), xiǎoháir (小孩儿).

In many cases, the apostrophe reduces ambiguity in word boundaries. Xī'ān (西安), for example, might be interpreted as a single syllable xiān () if the apostrophe and the tones were not present. Without the apostrophe, fāng'àn (方案) could be confused with fǎngǎn (反感). (Some writers, such as the Library of Congress, write fǎn'gǎn, but this reading is already implied in the absence of the apostrophe- for this reason, Henan Province isn't allowed to use an apostrophe between He and nan despite the technical plausibility of some other word spelled "hen'an") Note that not every required apostrophe reduces ambiguity, as in Tiān'é (天峨) despite the fact that tia (any tone) is not the Mandarin pronunciation for any character.


In pinyin, hyphens are rarely used, mainly in conjunction of independent words, abbreviated compounds (lüèyǔ), and four-character idioms, including double reduplication of the schema AA-BB. (See pinyin#hyphenation.) Character sequences for words with a single meaning, often consisting of two characters, seldom three, are written without intervening hyphen or space. This also holds for compound words combining two words to one meaning: hǎifēng (simplified Chinese: 海风; traditional Chinese: 海風, sea breeze).

Summary from the Library of Congress:

However, names that are not transliterated with pinyin will often have hyphenation or spaces between syllables: see for example Kwok Fu-shing, Tsai Ing-wen, or Mong Kok.

Names of people[edit]

General principle[edit]

The encyclopedia should use the name more familiar to most English readers. For most historical figures this means that the encyclopedia entry should use the transliteration, usually romanized in Hanyu pinyin (but figures from the early twentieth century, like Sun Yat-sen, should follow the customary transliteration when it is more common than pinyin), rather than an anglicization; because English usually does. However, there are exceptions for figures whose English name is more familiar (such as Confucius), and for figures who were raised in non-Chinese societies and whose Chinese names are unfamiliar (such as Vera Wang and Jeremy Lin).

Order of names[edit]

Personal names in Chinese, unlike Western names, present the surname (family or clan name) first. Unlike other instances where this occurs, it is standard practice in English to also present the family name first (for example, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Bai Ling).

There is an exception for people whose Chinese name is familiar but with English ordering (for example, Wen Ho Lee). In this case, the primary entry should be under the Western ordering with a redirect from the Chinese ordering.

Romanization of names[edit]

Chinese names should be written in Hanyu Pinyin unless there is a more common romanization used in English (for example, Chiang Kai-shek, Sun Yat-sen) or when the subject of the article is likely to prefer a non-pinyin romanization as is often the case with people from Singapore (e.g. Lee Kuan Yew), Taiwan (Lee Teng-hui), Hong Kong (Leung Chun-ying; Tung Chee-hwa), and older overseas Chinese communities.

When using Wade–Giles, a hyphen should be put between the two syllables of a given name, and the second syllable should not be capitalised (for example, Lee Teng-hui, not Lee Teng-Hui) unless that form is clearly preferred. Hong Kong names should also follow the hyphenated style.

Names of emperors[edit]

The general principle is to use the name most commonly used in English reliable sources, per policy.

Summary of guidelines used:

  1. Emperors before the Tang dynasty: use posthumous names, such as Emperor Wu of Han (漢武帝).
  2. Emperors of the Tang, Song, Liao and Jin (1115–1234) dynasties: use temple names, such as Emperor Taizong of Tang (唐太宗).
  3. Emperors of the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty: use era names (same as reign names), such as Kangxi Emperor (康熙帝).

The above is a rough guide and there are many exceptions. See the complete list of Chinese monarchs, and follow the conventions given there.

Because these are reign names and not personal names, the correct phrasing for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties is the "Kangxi Emperor" rather than "Emperor Kangxi".

Names of dynasties[edit]

Chinese dynasties should be named using a lower case 'd' in dynasty. For example: Qin dynasty, Society and culture of the Han dynasty and Han Jian (Tang dynasty). Exceptions would be where the word dynasty is part of a proper noun such as Tang Dynasty (band).

Names of groups[edit]

The main entry for a Chinese group should be under the name most familiar to English speakers. In some cases, this will be the translated name (for example, Aluminum Corporation of China Limited). In other cases, this will be the transliterated name (Tzu Chi and Tongmenghui). When the name is transliterated, the name should use the spelling conventionally used by English speakers (for example, Tzu Chi). Where this is not the pinyin transliteration there should be a redirect to the article from the pinyin name.

When a group uses a translated name, the Chinese characters should always be included, because there is not always a 1:1 correspondence of terms between Chinese and English. For example, the title of the President of the People's Republic of China uses the term "zhuxi" (主席 zhǔxí) to mean President, but there are other words in Chinese, such as "zongtong" (總統 zǒngtǒng), which are translated as "President" in English. Also, some English-language sources will distort, mistype or simplify the romanization of Chinese: from "Liu" into "Lu"; "Chiang" into "Chang", and so forth.

Similarly Chinese characters should be included for the Democratic Progressive Party because the standard term used for the party (民進黨 Mínjìn dǎng) is a contraction of the full name (民主進步黨 Mínzhǔ jìnbù dǎng). Characters should also be included for National People's Congress because there are a number of different Chinese terms to translate Congress, and the entry should identify which one is used.

Some older institutions maintain idiosyncratic spellings, which are sometimes legally incorporated overseas. Examples include Peking University, Peking Union Medical College, Tsinghua University, and Yenching University.

Names of state organs[edit]

This is an incomplete list of reference material. People who are familiar with the matter are welcomed to provide better source.

  • sank0916 (2006-11-10). "国家机关翻译表" [Translation Table of State Organs]. Baidu Zhidao.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • "国务院机构英文译名" [English Translation of Agencies in State Council] (MS DOC). Center of International Cooperation and Exchanges (Hong Kong, Macao & Taiwan Affairs), North China University of Technology Office.
  • "单位及部门名称英译概述" [A Summary of English Translation of Organizations and Departments]. junpengyuan (in Chinese). 2008-10-07. This looks like an excerpt of a manual.
  • Translation of Han dynasty titles. Wikipedia article. Discusses and compares translations, with Chinese characters provided.

Place names[edit]

Use pinyin for place names in China unless another form is more well-established in current English usage. (ex. Sichuan not Szechwan, but Hong Kong not Xianggang). Past English usage which has fallen into disuse in modern English-language sources, such as "Canton" and "Tsingtao" should not be used to title an article. For places without a well-established English name and have competing names from transliterations of pinyin vs. ethnic minority languages, which is often the case in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet, use the name preferred by Xinhua or similarly authoritative organs. For example, Kashgar not Kashi, Shigatse but not Rikaze; conversely, Baotou not Bugat, Kangding not Dartsedo.

The default naming pattern is "X Class", e.g. Taihang Mountains, Hai River, Fei County. Articles for provinces and cities can leave out the class name, e.g. Liaobei, Beijing. Naming "X Mountain", "Mount X", "X Shan" depends on English usage, e.g. Mount Everest, Tian Shan. Avoid tautologies; e.g. use Mount Tai instead of "Mount Taishan", and Xi River instead of "Xijiang River".

Disambiguation of topographical features[edit]

Type char. Normal Disambiguate
by location by type
Mountain Range
山脉 山脈
1 Qin Mountains 秦岭 no example yet no example yet
>1 Taihang Mountains 太行山
no example yet no example yet
Mountain Peak
1 Mount Tai 泰山 Mount Heng (Shanxi) 恒山 Huangshan 黄山
Mount Heng (Hunan) 衡山 Huangshan City 黄山市
>1 Dahei Mountain 大黑山
Mount Wutai 五台山
no example yet Wuzhi Mountain 五指山
Wuzhishan City 五指山市
River 河流 1 Huai River 淮河
Xiang River 湘江
Min River (Sichuan) 岷江 no example yet
Min River (Fujian) 闽江 no example yet
>1 Jinsha River 金沙江 no example yet Mudan River 牡丹江
Mudanjiang 牡丹江市
Lake 湖泊 1 Lake Tai 太湖
Chao Lake 巢湖
no example yet Chao Lake 巢湖
no example yet Chaohu 巢湖市
>1 Hongze Lake 洪泽湖 no example yet Poyang Lake 鄱阳湖
Poyang County 鄱阳县

Disambiguation of settlements and administrative units[edit]

In general, when deciding to disambiguate a place name, those settlements ranked higher administratively (i.e. higher up the following table) are primary topic over those ranked lower, unless sourcing exists to establish significant notability of a lower-ranked division. Thus settlements below the province-level should not be disambiguated with ", China".

Type char. Normal Disambiguate
by location by type
Province >1 Zhejiang 浙江省
Rehe 热河省
Fujian Province, Republic of China Heilongjiang 黑龙江省
Heilong River 黑龙江
Aut. Region 自治区 >1 Ningxia 宁夏回族自治区 no example yet Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区
Tibet 藏区 / 吐蕃
Municipality / City
(plc / clc / pc / ccc)
1 no example yet no example yet Mangshi 芒市
no example yet Mang
>1 Beijing 北京市
Nanjing 南京市
Yiwu 义乌市
ROC: Taipei 臺北市
ROC: Keelung 基隆市
ROC: Pingtung 屏東市
Yichun, Heilongjiang 伊春市 Jilin City 吉林市
Yichun, Jiangxi 宜春市 Jilin 吉林省
League / Banner
>1 Alxa League 阿拉善盟
Harqin Banner 喀喇沁旗
no example yet Naiman Banner 奈曼旗
Naiman (people) 奈曼部
(Aut.) Prefecture
地区 / 自治州
>1 Daxing'anling Prefecture 大兴安岭地区
Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture 延边朝鲜族自治州
no example yet Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture 海南藏族自治州
Hainan 海南省
(Aut.) County
县 / 自治县
1 Zhao County 赵县 She County, Anhui 歙县 N/A
She County, Hebei 涉县
>1 Fugou County 扶沟县
Dachang Hui Autonomous County 大厂回族自治县
ROC: Hsinchu County 新竹縣
Wushan County, Chongqing 巫山县 Poyang County 鄱阳县
Wushan County, Gansu 武山县 Lake Poyang 鄱阳湖
Subdistricts 街道
1 Xi District 西区 Jiaoqu, Jiamusi 佳木斯市郊区
ROC: East District, Taichung 臺中市東區
no example yet
Jiaoqu, Yangquan 阳泉市郊区
ROC: East District, Tainan 臺南市東區
>1 Chongwen District 崇文区
but also: Pudong 浦东新区
ROC: Beitou District 北投區
Chaoyang District, Beijing 北京市朝阳区
ROC: Da'an District, Taipei 臺北市大安區
Hebei District 天津市河北区
Chaoyang District, Changchun 长春市朝阳区
ROC: Da'an District, Taichung 臺中市大安區
Hebei 河北省

Towns, townships and villages of the PRC are to be disambiguated according to the following procedure:

  1. By province-level division. Places in the districts of the following automatically go to 2A): All sub-provincial cities (except Jinan), Jilin City, Wuxi, Suzhou, Wenzhou, Fuzhou (福州), Kunming, Lanzhou, and Lhasa
  2. If the name is not unique within the province, disambiguate: A) By the prefecture-level city if the parent division is a district. B) By the county-level city, county, or banner otherwise; autonomous counties should omit the ethnic groups and the word "Autonomous" (e.g. Huanren Manchu Autonomous County → Huanren County) as long as no ambiguity is created by the short form.
  3. If the name of the parent county-level city or county is ambiguous, revert to 2A). If the prefecture-level city is not primary topic within the PRC, revert to 2B).
  4. If the English name is not unique even within the county-level division, use pinyin tone marks.

Occasionally, towns will have the same name as their parent division. "Town" must be used if the name of the town co-exists with Subdistricts or Townships of the same name in the same county-level division, i.e. if the town of XX and XX Township both exist in XY District. Otherwise, "Town" may be used only when: A) The parent division is a district, county-level city or prefecture-level city, i.e. [[Jiangzhou Town]] in Jiangzhou District and B) Apart from the town and its parent(s), no other settlements exist.

Subdistricts always disambiguate according to Step 2 above.

Established translations elsewhere[edit]

Here are some established translations, officially used in China or frequently employed in Sinology literature.


When naming articles of expressways, highways, railways, railway stations, or airports in China, use the common English name if it can be determined, e.g. Karakoram Highway. Otherwise, follow these rules to determine the article title name:

For roadways, highways, expressways and railways whose names in Chinese consist of two- or three-character abbreviations (usually of terminal cities), do not simply adopt the pinyin version of the Chinese abbreviation as the English article name. Instead, spell out the full English name of each location mentioned in the Chinese abbreviation and connect the location names by an en dash (–).

In this example, the character , pinyin romanized as ning is a shorthand for the city of Nanjing, the eastern terminal on this rail line, and the character , pinyin romanized as wu, is the shorthand for the other terminal city, Wuhu. Ningwu is an abbreviation for Nanjing–Wuhu.

The [full English spelling of terminus 1]–[full English spelling of terminus 2] [Expressway/Railway] article naming format is intended to identify expressways and railways with precision and avoid ambiguity. The Nanjing–Wuhu Railway from the example above, if written as Ningwu Railway in its article title, is confusingly similar to the Ningwu–Kelan and Ningwu–Jingle Railways.

Similarly, Nanfu Railway may refer to:

The Chinese abbreviated name, e.g. Ningwu Railway, should still be mentioned in the first sentence of the article as a secondary name of the expressway/railway, and should be made a redirect link to the article. This Chinese abbreviated name can be freely used in the article itself and in other articles. The rule above applies only to article names. Where there is ambiguity in the pinyin version of the Chinese abbreviated name, create a disambiguation page for the ambiguous name.

Please connect location names with an en dash (–) in the title instead of a hyphen. The en-dash stands for to or through. The Nanjing–Wuhu Railway, therefore means, the railway from Nanjing to Wuhu. For the sake of convenience of writers who cite the article using hyphens, please also create a redirect to the hyphenated version of the article name, e.g. Nanjing-Wuhu Railway.


Where the pinyin spelling of a location name differs from the official English spelling of the place name (especially in the case of non-Chinese place names) use the official English spelling.

Use the location names mentioned in the Chinese abbreviation even if a location's actual name has changed.

  • 临策铁路Linhe–Ceke Railway not Bayan Nur–Ceke Railway. The article's introduction should explain that the railway’s eastern terminal city, formerly known as Linhe, is now called Bayan Nur, but the railway name still uses Linhe.

Use the same naming format for China's high-speed railways

Exceptions to the full-spelling naming format:

Where the Chinese name is descriptive, translate the descriptive name:

Where the Chinese abbreviation is no longer considered an abbreviation but a name into itself. This usually occurs when the abbreviated name has survived changes in the underlying names.

  • 陇海铁路Longhai Railway not Longxi–Haizhou Railway because Longxi is no longer used to describe eastern Gansu Province and Haizhou is now part of Lianyungang


For expressways that have a single numeral name, add this numeral name as a prefix to the expressway name in the article title. The numeral name and the expressway name should be separated by a space.

Note: some provincial-level expressways that cross provincial boundary lines carry different provincial highway numeral designations. In these cases, leave out the numeral name prefixes from the article title. For example:

The Chinese abbreviated name for the expressway should be mentioned in the first sentence of the article as an abbreviated/secondary name of the expressway and should be made a redirect link to the article. Any numeral name designations should also be mentioned in the lede and redirects created as applicable.

For National Highways that are numbered simply follow the format {China National Highway [number]}:

National Highways can be abbreviated with "G{no. of highway}", e.g. G105 as a redirect link for China National Highway 105.

Railway stations[edit]

Articles for railway stations in China should be named using the city's name (or in some cases the station's unique name, for example 沙坪坝站) followed by the English translation of the cardinal direction in the railway station name, if applicable (North, South etc.), and then [railway station]:

For stations with cardinal directions in their names, use the Pinyin version of the direction in the infobox, and mention it in the article's first sentence as secondary names; also create a redirect with this name. (Using Pinyin transliteration of cardinal directions has been the policy of China Railways since 2012; see zh:阳泉北站)

Metro stations[edit]

All metro stations have their own English name, simply write the name that is already in use. However, consider creating a redirect for possible variants: for example, Zhenhua Road Station to Zhenhua Lu Station, or Nanjing East Road Station to East Nanjing Road Station.


Airport articles should have the city's name followed by the [airport's name] if applicable, followed by [International Airport] or [Airport] as applicable:


For Chinese cuisine, use established terms that are understandable, particularly if such names are in daily use in the English-speaking world. Avoid Chinese abbreviations and pre-pinyin romanizations no longer in use of modern scholarship, except when quoting sources.

For the various Chinese operas or other performance arts, use an established translation, or, if that is not available (which is usual), use pinyin.

And as always, work individual articles out on a case by case basis rather than let these conventions constrain you!

Languages or dialects[edit]

Chinese linguists classify local varieties of Chinese into dialect groups: Mandarin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka, Yue and, in some classifications, Jin, Hui and Pinghua. They have also subdivided these into subgroups at various levels. While these groups are sometimes referred to as dialects, this has been criticized as a confusing departure from usual uses of the term elsewhere in the world. Some call them languages, on the grounds that they are mutually unintelligible, but this practice has been criticized both by those who feel it does not reflect the historical and cultural unity of Chinese, and by linguists who point to mutual unintelligibility within each of the groups.

Avoid explicitly naming the dialect groups as either languages or dialects. Simply use the name itself if there is no ambiguity. If there is, use "xxx Chinese" for top-level groups or "xxx Min", "xxx Mandarin" etc for lower-level divisions. For the local variety of a county or city, use "xxx dialect" unless another name is more common. In the event that the name of a variety is also the name used to refer to the people (e.g. Shanghainese), the variety should take precedence as the primary article name with a disambiguation link for the people.

Be aware that certain varieties of Chinese have multiple synonymous names in English, which can be alternately used to emphasize certain linguistic qualities. For example, Modern Standard Mandarin can be described as Standard Chinese to emphasize the fact that it is the standard language. The same language may be described as Modern Standard Mandarin to emphasize its difference from Standard Cantonese or Taiwanese Hokkien. It also may be called Modern Chinese to emphasize differences with Classical Chinese. Similarly, to call Taiwanese Hokkien simply by "Taiwanese" would de-emphasize its relationship to the broader Hokkien language group. The best name for each particular variety often depends on the article and its context.

The inclusion relationship between certain oft-confused groups and varieties is:

See also[edit]