A multistage classifier with general tree structure has been developed to recognize a large number of Chinese characters. A simple and efficient method of classifying the characters was achieved by choosing the best feature at each stage of the tree. The features used are Walsh coefficients obtained from two profiles of a character projected onto the X-Y orthogonal axes. Some algorithms for aligning the characters were compared and one of them was adopted in this recognition scheme. A high recognition rate of about 99.5 percent was obtained in an experiment with more than 3000 different Chinese characters.