Learning Shorthand For the Office
In order to take notes more quickly, a form of writing called shorthand is sometimes used. Another word for shorthand is stenography, and this type of writing can be traced back as far as ancient Greece. Today, secretaries and school students can use shorthand to help them take down notes and dictations much quicker than writing out the full words and sentences. Some feel that shorthand is quickly becoming a thing of the past, while others still use it quite frequently.
In Egypt and Greece, many people used stone tablets to write on. Because of this, they needed a way to record things in a much quicker fashion. They began to use abbreviated words and syllables together in order to compile more information more quickly and in a smaller space. These are the first evidence of someone using shorthand to record information. In China, shorthand was used to record the confessions of different criminals. This was done in a court-like setting and was performed so that the person taking down the dictation could have accurate yet succinct information to provide as a record later on. The concept of shorthand, while differently done for different languages, quickly spread to other places like Europe and Japan.
Geometric and Script Shorthand
This type of shorthand involves the use of small geometric shapes and lines integrated together. An example would be something called Pitman Shorthand. Script-style shorthand is more well-known and is centered around the concept of using normal handwriting to scrawl words down onto paper. This form of shorthand involves truncated words in a handwritten format and is popular in Europe.
Standard Writing Style
The most common form of shorthand in modern times is a style that is very similar to handwriting. Essentially alphabetic letters can be replaced by punctuation marks and other unusual symbols. The original format of this kind of shorthand was developed to allow people to perform shorthand using a typewriter, which is why there were symbols integrated into it. Some names for this kind of shorthand include speedwriting, quickhand, and stenoscript.
Another way for people to utilize the benefits of shorthand is through the use of certain machines. These machines are actually just special keyboards that have the shorthand symbols integrated into them. This allows the person taking down the dictation to quickly, effectively, and easily get everything down through the use of typing. This format is most frequently used in courtroom documentation and in closed captioning for television.
Benefits of Shorthand
There are many benefits to the utilization of shorthand. In many cases, it is used to help document events in a fast-paced situation, such as a courtroom or a breaking news story. It is also commonly used for closed captioning so that deaf people can easily and quickly read the words being spoken in real time on the screen. Even some journalists still use shorthand today in order to quickly capture important information for breaking news stories and quickly changing situations. For individuals to learn shorthand, students must attend classes and become certified in the skill. Most courtroom reporters have to have official shorthand certification in order to be hired. It takes practice and many hours of education on the different styles, methods, and preferred execution of shorthand for people to become really good at transcribing information quickly and correctly.
- The History of Shorthand: The University of Bath has a collection on the history of shorthand, and this page gives a guide to its contents and details on how shorthand came about.
- Shorthand in History: Here is a good example of how shorthand has been used in history along with an example.
- How to Write 225 Words a Minute with a Pen: This article explores the lost art of shorthand.
- Shorthand Overview and Examples: This page gives an overview of shorthand along with some alphabetic examples of what the Pitman and Gregg alphabets look like.
- Handwritten Shorthand and its Future Potential for Fast Mobile Text Entry (PDF): An academic study examines the usefulness of shorthand and its advantages in certain situations as well as looking at the future of online shorthand recognition.
- Gregg Shorthand: This page covers everything you need to know about Gregg shorthand, another method of choice.
- Guide to Shorthand Systems: You will find a lot of good information about the different systems of shorthand here along with examples to use and follow.
- A Quick Shorthand Test: See how well you can interpret this image using shorthand and test your knowledge.
- Journalists and Shorthand: Read here to learn about how shorthand can still play an important role in journalists' jobs.
- Do You Know Anyone Who Knows Shorthand? An interesting look at the lives and careers of those who still know how to use and employ shorthand is found here.
- Shorthand Tutorial Lesson (PDF): This document gives you everything you need to get started with learning shorthand.
- History of Shorthand: Learn more about the history of shorthand and how and where it was used in the past.
- Machine Shorthand History: This page discusses the history of machine shorthand, which is used widely by court reporters.
- Modern Shorthand Systems: Here is a brief overview of the modern shorthand systems used today.
- The Relevance of Shorthand in Modern Office Operations: An academic study looks at the usefulness of shorthand to today's office worker.