Sinology Resources Wiki

Pleco Chinese Dictionary[]

Pleco Software Inc.  © 2013.

Available for purchase for iOS and Android phones, Pleco’s mobile Chinese dictionary application is the best on the market at this point.  Featuring a number of excellent built-in dictionaries (including the recently-added Hanyu da cidian, Grand Ricci, ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary, ABC English-Chinese Dictionary, Xiandai hanyu guifan cidian 现代汉语成语规范词典, 21st Century English-Chinese Dictionary and Tuttle Learner's Chinese-English Dictionary) with many others available for free download, this full-featured app also includes a handwriting recognizer for input, a flashcard system, a text file interface, audio pronunciation in Mandarin (with both search and output functions), stroke order animations, and even an OCR designed to work with the phone’s camera (so one can take a picture of a graph and the dictionary entry will appear).

The dictionary can be set to traditional or simplified characters, and searches can be performed using simplified or traditional graphs, Mandarin pinyin, handwriting input or any combination thereof.

Dr. Eye 譯典通[]

Inventec Corp. © 2009.

The Dr. Eye Chinese-English-Japanese dictionary and translation software is the flagship product sold by this Taiwan-based company and includes an extensive array of built-in dictionaries.  With versions for Windows computers, iOS and Windows Mobile, most of the standard features one would need are included, including mouse-over dictionary and translation apps, full document translators, multilingual and dialect pronunciations and user interfaces in a variety of languages.

The software suite can be configured to display results in traditional or simplified Chinese and includes several different native input methods.

Clavis Sinica 释文解字[]

David Porter, ed.  © 2013.

Designed for students learning Chinese, the Clavis Sinica software suite contains a text reader linked to a Chinese-English dictionary with over 37,000 entries (single graphs and compounds), as well as graph composition and shared component functions, flashcard and vocabulary-building apps and a small library of Chinese texts with audio (in Mandarin putonghua).  There are versions of the software suite for Windows, Mac OS, Linux and most mobile devices.

Simplified and traditional Chinese are both supported, and the software can use most input methods as well as its own native interface for pinyin, stroke order and English.

Perapera Chinese Popup Dictionary[]

Justin Kovalchuk, ed.  © 2011, Perapera Language Tools.

Widely regarded as the best free Japanese-Chinese-Korean plugin for Firefox and Chrome (Chinese only), Perapera features a pop-up interface driven by the CC-CEDICT dictionary, with glosses in English, French and/or German.  Both single graphs and compounds are recognized, with many proper nouns and technical terms, and additional dictionaries can be added by the user.

There is no direct input nor search function, as this app is solely a mouse-over popup dictionary.


Lingoes Project, © 2006-2013.

As the home page states, this free Windows-only application features “lookup dictionaries, full text translation, capture word on screen, translate selected text, and mouseover and pronunciation of words in over 80 languages”.  Its main strength at present is the vast array of dictionaries which can be added to the interface, including 214 in simplified Chinese and 24 in traditional Chinese (including the Hanyu da cidian).  The interface is highly configurable and can be set for any of thirty-nine different languages, and users can also create their own dictionaries or use other freely available dictionaries (such as any in the Global WordNet Association, or JuKuu). Lingoes also provides audio for pronunciation, and includes a search history.

Lingoes is a standalone dictionary tool which contains no native interface for entry of Chinese characters, but most normal input methods (including cut-and-paste) and a “capture word on screen” function are supported.

Google Translate[]

Google Inc. 

This web-based translation app currently features 71 languages, but its real strength lies in the way Google is harnessing libraries of translated works to drive the results, and then users’ preferences are recorded to rank the potential translations for any given word or phrase.  All dictionary content is maintained by Google within the WordNet lexical database system; the Chinese WordNet中文詞彙網路 is primarily supported by National Taiwan University.

The main version of the app is deceptively simple, with just a text-entry box and then an interactive translation provided next to it.  Websites and documents can also be run through the application using the native interface or the Google Translator Toolkit.

JuKuu 句酷[]

Guo Yongsheng, ed. © 2008.

This Chinese-English-Japanese online application contains a simple dictionary but is also useful for providing a large number of bilingual example sentences in which the search term appears, along with a “definition distribution” 释义分pie chart so users can see which translations are more or less common.

The website is in simplified Chinese, as are all the tools, including an offline version, a plugin for Microsoft Office and a Windows Mobile app.

NJStar 南極星[]

NJStar Software Pty Ltd.  © 2013.

This company has offered a range of Windows-based Chinese-Japanese-Korean-English software for sale since 1991, including their own word processors with built-in dictionaries, instant translation (including website translation), specialized input methods, a lunar calendar application and a full-featured suite for learners of Chinese.

The software is designed to interface with all applications, including word processors, web browsers and even iTunes.


Babylon Ltd., © 1997-2013.

While Babylon’s Desktop Translator translation software features 35 dictionaries for Chinese (plus the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 大英簡明百科), it also serves as the main interface for their fee-based professional human translation services, which can accept a range of file types, including audio recordings, in any of 77 different languages.  The company also makes a series of tools for language learners, including some designed specifically for young children, and the software runs on Mac or Windows computers and most smartphones.

Like NJStar and Lingoes, Babylon’s software suite is primarily composed of standalone applications which can interface with both offline and online resources.

Zotero Reference Manager[]

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.

Zotero is a free, web-based or offline bibliographic reference manager (like Endnote), and has become a popular tool for many users working with Chinese and other Unicode character sets.  When working with bilingual data, the information can be kept separate within the database yet combined when generating bibliographies, footnotes and endnotes.

Zotero runs in Firefox, Chrome or Safari under Windows, Mac or Linux OS.  Zotero offers little  direct support for bilingual Chinese users, but there is an active Chinese-Japanese-Korean forum on the website.

Bookends Reference Manager (Mac OS only)[]

Sonny Software, © 2013.

Bookends is the preferred reference manager for many using Chinese, as it fully supports Unicode, has a well-designed interface and features its own online search engine for importing bibliographic data.

Bookends is available for Mac OS only, and is available for purchase from the website


Brent Hou Ieong Ho, Hilde De Weerdt, Shih-Pei Chen and the European Research Council.

MARKUS is a new type of markup platform developed by Brent Hou Ieong Ho, Hilde De Weerdt and Shih-Pei Chen.  It was first designed to automate the markup of different kinds of named entities (personal names, place names, temporal references and official titles) within Chinese texts, and has developed into a multi-faceted tool that gives users access to a range of online reference tools while reading texts in classical Chinese as well as the ability to tag and extract any kind of information of interest to them. In addition to names already present in the China Biographical Database and the China Historical GIS, users can tag words or phrases by uploading their own lists or by using built-in criteria. (MARKUS currently contains a small selection of built-in tags and search criteria, such as book titles, that could be useful in the analysis of quotations and citations).  Users can also design their own criteria or regular expression search and tag the results.  All markup can be edited while consulting the reference sources integrated in the platform and the final results can be exported for further analysis in the on-site visualization platform or other software.

At present, the MARKUS platform functions only in the Google Chrome browser.  The project is currently in beta, and the authors continue to improve the accuracy of the automated markup and add additional modules.  If you are a researcher with a project that could benefit from the system and you would like to become a beta-tester, please contact the project managers.