The Easy Lookup Traditional Chinese Character "Initials Index" (Initials Index for short) is one of three Easy Lookup Indexes included in the Easy Lookup Chinese English Dictionary.
It divides Traditional Chinese characters into 12 categories each with a maximum of 16 groups based on shape.
Chinese character lookup is made easier (even for beginners) because it is based purely on shape with no need to know a characters radical, stroke count or pronounciation.
The 12 categories of the Initials index are shown below.
The shape for a category is typical of all groups within that category.
Groups within the Box category include characters that begin with some variation of the Box 囗 shape.
Groups within the Bottom category only include characters that begin with some variation of the Bottom 凵 shape.
Groups within the Cover category only include characters that begin with some variation of the Cover ⺆ shape.
Groups, in turn, contain characters that begin with some variation of the group shape.
As an example, the characters below all belong to the 田 group of the Box category:
Characters in the Easy Lookup initials index are sorted purely according to the shape of their initial element. As a result, all you need is a picture of the character you are looking for.
You don't need any "hidden" information like its radical (which isn't always the first element in a character) or its pronounciation to look a character up. All you need is to be able to recognize it's initial shape.
And that's the reason for Categories and Groups.
Categories are made up of the most basic and easy to recognize shape elements of all characters. It isn't based on a particular stroke, at least not in all cases, but a shape that is easy, even for foreigners, to recognize.
The groups within a category then include the more detailed shapes that make up the first part of each character.
Using the Initials index is simply a case of choosing shapes that best represent the first element of the character that you are looking for.
So that the search is easier, similiar shapes are grouped close together so that even if you guess the wrong shape, you are close to the right shape.
And the groups of shapes have been chosen so that the size of each group is as small as possible, without making the number of groups that you have to search through too large.
If you are looking for a Simplified Chinese character the Easy Lookup Chinese English Dictionary includes a Simplified Chinese character index. This is used in exactly the same way as the Initials index. But instead, Simplified Chinese characters are divided into groups and categories based on their initial element.