More broadly speaking, Chinese classic texts may refer to texts, be they written in vernacular Chinese or in classical Chinese, that existed before 1912, when the last imperial Chinese dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, fell. These can include ''shi'' , ''zi'' and ''ji'' as well as ''jing''.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the ''Four Books and Five Classics'', Chinese classic texts chosen by Song dynasty Zhu Xi, were the subject of mandatory study by those scholars who wished to become government officials. Any political discussion was full of references to this background, and one could not be one of the literati, or even a military officer, without knowing them. Generally, children first studied the Chinese characters with rote memorization of the ''Three Character Classic'' and ''Hundred Family Surnames'', then went on to memorize the other classics, in order to ascend in the social hierarchy.
Scholarship on these texts naturally divides itself into two periods, before and after the "Qin Fire" when many of the original texts, especially those of Confucianism, were burned in a political purge.
Before 221 BCE
*The Classics of Confucianism
** The Four Books
*** The ''Great Learning'' is a chapter from the ''Classic of Rites''.
*** The ''Doctrine of the Mean'' is another chapter from the ''Classic of Rites''.
*** The ''Analects of Confucius'', a twenty-chapter work of dialogues between Confucius and his disciples, recorded by later Confucian scholars.
*** The ''Mencius'', a book of conversations between Mencius and some kings of his time.
**The Five Classics
*** The ''I Ching'' is a manual of divination based on the eight trigrams attributed to the mythical figure Fuxi . The ''I Ching'' is still used by modern adherents of folk religion.
*** The ''Classic of Poetry'' is made up of 305 poems divided into 160 folk songs, 74 minor festal songs, traditionally sung at court festivities, 31 major festal songs, sung at more solemn court ceremonies, and 40 hymns and eulogies, sung at sacrifices to gods and ancestral spirits of the royal house. This book is traditionally credited as a compilation from Confucius.
***The ''Three Rites'' are the three ancient ritual texts listed among the classics of Confucianism, a record of social forms and ceremonies of the Western Zhou, and a restoration of the original copy after the burning of Confucian texts in 213 BCE
**** The ''Classic of Rites''
**** The ''Rites of Zhou''
**** The ''Etiquette and Ceremonials''
*** The ''Classic of History'' is a collection of documents and speeches of the , and Western Zhou and period before. It contains examples of the earliest Chinese prose.
*** The ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' is chronologically the earliest annal; consisting of about 16,000 words, it records the events of the State of Lu from 722 BCE to 481 BCE, with implied condemnation of usurpations, murder, incest, etc.
**** The ''Zuo Zhuan'' is a different report of the same events as the ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' with a few significant differences. It covers a longer period than the ''Spring and Autumn Annals''.
**** The ''Commentary of Gongyang'', another surviving commentary on the same events .
**** The ''Commentary of Guliang'', another surviving commentary on the same events .
*** The ''Classic of Music'' is sometimes referred to as the sixth classic; it was lost by the time of the Han Dynasty.
** Other Confucian classics
*** The ''Classic of Filial Piety'' is a very small classical book on how to behave towards a senior, be it one's father, an elder brother, or the ruler.
*** The ''Erya'' is a dictionary explaining the meaning and interpretation of words in the context of the Confucian Canon.
*The Classics of Taoism
** ''Tao Te Ching'', attributed to Laozi.
** ''Zhuangzi'', attributed to the philosopher of the same name, Zhuangzi.
** The ''Classic of the Perfect Emptiness'', attributed to Liezi.
*The Classic of Mohism
** ''Mozi'', attributed to the philosopher of the same name, Mozi.
*The Classics of
** ''The book of lord Shang'', attributed to Shang Yang''.
** '''', attributed to Guan Zhong.
** ''Hanfeizi'', attributed to Han Fei.
** ''Shenzi'', attributed to Shen Buhai; all but one chapter is lost.
** ''Shenzi'', attributed to Shen Dao. It originally consisted of ten volumes and forty-two chapters, of which all but seven chapters have been lost.
** The ''Book of Law'', attributed to .
*The Classics of Military Science
** The '''', attributed to Sunzi.
** The ''Thirty-Six Strategies'', recently recovered.
** The ''Three Strategies of Master Yellow Stone'', attributed to Huangshi Gong.
** The ''Methods of the Minister of War'', attributed to Sima Rangju.
** ''Wuzi'', attributed to Wu Qi.
** ''Weiliaozi'', attributed to Wei Liao.
*The Classics of the History of China
** The '''', a collection of historical records of numerous states recorded the period from Western Zhou to 453 BCE.
** The ''Shan Hai Jing'', a collection of mythical tales from various locations.
After 206 BCE
* The ''Twenty-Four Histories'', a collection of authoritative histories of China, including the ''Records of the Grand Historian'' by Sima Qian and the ''Book of Han'' by Ban Gu.
* The ''Strategies of the Warring States'', attributed to .
* The ''Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms'', a historical record of the Sixteen Kingdoms, attributed to Cui Hong, is lost.
* The ''Shiming'', is a dictionary compiled by Liu Xi by the end of 2nd century.
* The ''Dialogues between Li Jing and Tang Taizong'', attributed to Li Jing
* The ''Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government'', with Sima Guang as its main editor.
* The ''Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue'', a historical record of the states of and during the period of Spring and Autumn, attributed to Zhao Ye.
* The ''Shiliuguo Chunqiu'', compiled by Cui Hong, a history book for the Sixteen Kingdoms.
* The ''Jiaoshi Yilin'', a work modelled after ''I Ching'', attributed to Jiao Yanshou.
* The ''The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art'', a mathematics Chinese book composed by several generations scholars of Han Dynasty.
* The ''Thousand Character Classic'', attributed to Zhou Xingsi.
* The ''Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era'', compiled by Gautama Siddha, is a Chinese encyclopedia on astrology and divination.
* The ''Shitong'', written by Liu Zhiji, was a work on historiography.
* The ''Tongdian'', written by Du You, a contemporary text focused on the Tang Dynasty.
* The ''Tang Huiyao'', compiled by Wang Pu, is a text based on the institutional history of the Tang Dynasty.
* The ''Great Tang Records on the Western Regions'', compiled by Bianji is a recounts of Xuanzang's journey.
* The ''Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang'', written by Duan Chengshi, which records fantastic stories, anecdotes, and exotic customs,.
* The ''Four Great Books of Song'', was a term referring to the four large compilations during the beginning of Song Dynasty.
* The ''Siku Quanshu'', is the largest compilation of literature in Chinese history.
* ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'', a semi-fictionalised account of the fall of the ''Han Dynasty'' and the period that followed until the '''' dynasty reunited China, attributated to ''Luo Guanzhong''
* Big classic texts database by Academia Sinica
* Classics database
* In Chinese, with articles and discussions on literature, history, and philosophy.