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.

Machine Shorthand

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.