Normally, there are three ways to use Chinese dictionary: by alphabetical order, by radical and by number of the strokes.
By alphabetical order
This is a very easy and efficient way to check characters in dictionary. For those words you only know how to read but don't know how to write or their meaning, you can use alphabetical order to check in dictionary, but you must be familiar with pinyin alphabetical order and Chinese pinyin syllables. To check a word in dictionary in this way, according to the first letter of pinyin, you can find it with according page in Chinese pinyin syllables table. For example, The word "不", Chinese Pinyin" bù". We can follow the alphabet to find the first letter "b", then you can find" bù" by page accordingly.
If you don't know how to read the words and their meaning, it's totally fresh for you. You can check in dictionary by radical, but
It's better to know some usually used characters radical. The table bellow is some of it.
First step, you need to know the radical of the words and find the page of radical index of Chinese characters from radical directory. Secondly, you need calculate the rest numbers of strokes of the word except the radical and find the relative page. For example, The word "节", The radical "艹" .
1. Find the radical in radical directory, the related page 23 in radical index of Chinese characters.
2. Go to radical index of Chinese characters page 23.
3. The rest part of the word except the radical is composed of three strokes. You can find it with exact pages.
By number of the strokes
For some words, you don't how to read and it's hard to recognize the radical, it's better to try this way to check in dictionary. It's import to calculate the strokes of the word accurately so that you can find the word with right page in the table for difficult words stroke checking index. For example,
The word "刁"
1. Don't know how to read the word
2. It's hard to know it's radical
3. We calculate the total numbers of strokes is two, we can find it as below table.
To know how to check words in dictionary in different ways is a basic skill of learning Chinese characters. Only by practice, you will master more. May you success!