The famous five
The theory of the five elements is used to determine the suitability of a Chinese name. Taking into account only the traditional (and not the simplified) form of the character, those that are formed using a number of strokes ending with one or two (that is, two, 11, 21 strokes) are of the wood element. Characters that have the total number of strokes ending with three or four are of the fire element, five or six, of earth, seven or eight, of metal, and nine or zero, of water.
For a name to be auspicious, the characters' elements should follow each other and not be in opposition to one another.
For instance, let's say the surname consists of eight strokes, which means it will be of the metal element. The next two characters should be supportive elements, that is, also metal or the earth element, which gives birth to the metal element.
The element that is the child or product of the surname element is also acceptable; in this instance, metal produces water. Thus, with an eight-stroke surname, there is the choice of using characters with five, six, seven, eight, nine or 10 strokes next, to ensure a name conforms to the flow of elements.
Fung shui professionals also analyse which elements are favourable for an individual from their birth chart and will choose the characters accordingly.