What is Shorthand?
Wouldn’t life be easier if you didn’t have to spend so much time writing down school notes or grocery lists? What if all of that could be written with just a wave of your hand?
OK, wave of your hand is kind of unrealistic, but it is possible to write it much, much faster than you’re doing it now. All you have to do is learn shorthand.
What Is Shorthand?
Shorthand is a different way of writing and it’s way faster than longhand. Even cursive only increases your writing speed by 10%. Shorthand can increase your writing speed by 100% or more.
How many words can you write per minute?
Get a timer and write a few sentences from a random book. How many words can you write before the timer goes off?
The average person writes about 25 words per minute. A person writing in Gregg shorthand can write 225 words per minute. 225 words!
Shorthand was mainly used to take dictation and is still used by many journalists today.
Interested in learning shorthand now?
Before you learn shorthand you have to choose a type of shorthand. Shorthand isn’t one way of writing. It is an umbrella under which are many different kinds of shorthand.
Let’s start with the easiest shorthand.
Ford Improved Shorthand
This is the easiest shorthand because it only takes 15 minutes to learn, and it doesn’t omit any letters (like other shorthand systems do). This shorthand system gets you to 40 words per minute, which is double the speed the average person writes with.
This system was created by Michael Ford in 2012. He wanted to write in his journal quickly and have his writing encrypted.
Ford shorthand is very similar to Teeline shorthand, as this is the shorthand he based his shorthand off of. However, his shorthand doesn’t omit vowels while Teeline does.
If you are interested in learning Ford Improved Shorthand, you can visit fordshorthand.com
Teeline shorthand is still taught to journalists in the UK. With Teeline shorthand, you can reach the speed of 150 words per minute.
Teeline is relatively easy to learn since its letters are similar to the longhand alphabet. What some people may find difficult is the absence of vowels. Teeline omits vowels for speed.
If you are a texter, this might not be a big problem for you.
“We shl go to Lndn nxt wk to do sm shping” is how you’d write “We shall go to London next week to do some shopping in Teeline”.
Teeline was made to be easy by James Hill, a Pitman shorthand teacher, in 1968. The letters were meant to be easy to learn; after learning them all you need is practice.
Pitman shorthand uses a fountain pen. I thought I’d mention that first so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you choose this shorthand system.
It uses a fountain pen because the Pitman alphabet depends on the thickness of the stroke. Look at the difference between the letters T and D in Pitman shorthand in the picture to the right.
T is a voiced letter and is therefore thin, whereas d is unvoiced and therefore thick. The same goes for P and B, and K and G.
Vowels are written as dots, dashes or other marks near a consonant stroke. The vowels can be written with either thin or thick lines depending on the vowel you’re writing. In many cases, vowels aren’t marked at all.
The Pitman shorthand system was made by Sir Isaac Pitman in 1837. It is one of the most common shorthand systems used today.
Gregg shorthand is the most difficult shorthand system to learn. It also gives you the most speed. Gregg shorthand is the shorthand you need if you want to write 225 words per minute.
The average speaking speed is 140 words per minute; in other words, you’ll be writing faster than you can speak with this shorthand system.
Despite taking a long time to learn, Gregg is the most common shorthand system and not only in English. Gregg shorthand has been adapted to French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Esperanto, Irish, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Polish and other languages, too.
Gregg shorthand is phonetic writing system; meaning it only writes sounded letters, for example, though in Gregg would only be written tho and laugh would be laf.
The Gregg shorthand alphabet is made of different sized strokes and curves that are joined together. Single letters can also be abbreviations for words called brief forms. The M stroke with is a horizontal line could mean am or more.
Gregg shorthand has many different versions.
- Pre-Anniversary Gregg shorthand. This is the first shorthand made by John Robert Gregg in 1888.
- Gregg Shorthand Anniversary Edition. This version reduced the brief forms to make it easier to learn.
- Gregg Shorthand Simplified
- Gregg Shorthand Diamond Jubilee Edition
- Gregg Shorthand Series 90
- Gregg Shorthand Centennial Edition
- The GREGG Shorthand Manual Simplified – a simplified version from 1955