Learning Shorthand for the Office – Take Notes Quick and Effectively
Article brought to you by: Phillip Donaldson
Shorthand is a type of speed-writing that allows a listener to rapidly record spoken words. It incorporates its own set of recording methods which are meant to take the place of longer forms of writing. For example, in this type of writing, you may only record the pertinent components of spoken words. Later, you may be able to "fill-in-the-blanks", so to speak, and translate shorthand into a fully-formed speech representing fleshed out thoughts and ideas. This type of writing boasts a long and rich history stemming all the way back into antiquity. Two of the most common forms of shorthand systems today include Pitman and Gregg.
If you work in a business, you may find that learning office shorthand will let you record the important points of meetings, discussions and dictations at an extremely fast rate. This may save you time, especially if the discussions are impromptu, or if there isn't a voice recorder available. While office shorthand was indeed more popular before the modern technology boom, its application can still be of use to those who want to hone another specialized skill, or who want to work with people who prefer this type of note-taking over contemporary forms.
Students may enjoy using shorthand while in classes. Instead of having to write out a lecture word for word in a notebook, students can use shorthand to jot down the important parts, and follow each point, without having to wait for total transcription. The resulting notes can either be retyped to show a speech written in standard English, or read as-is in shorthand form. At its core, shorthand writing will allow you to process and record copious amounts of information without having to write out entire words. It can also be an invaluable tool for you to take personal notes anywhere, and at anytime you feel comfortable using the method.
The origin of shorthand writing is ancient. The Egyptians were some of the first to learn shorthand systems and implement them in their culture as an alternative to hieroglyphics. In the 1 st century B.C., the Romans succeeded in impressing the first recorded shorthand system. Since then, the practice has popped up across the world in various iterations.
More recently, in Western culture, shorthand writing has been used in businesses, especially those involving the law, since at least 1850. Shorthand was popular in offices amongst secretaries up until the 1980s, when new machines like electric typewriters made it possible to type words as fast as they were being spoken. People who were successful in (earning shorthand were also referred to as stenographers. Some countries still popularly employ the technique, and their businesses often require employees to learn shorthand and pass proficiency tests before obtaining jobs.
Since simple lines can take the place of letters of the alphabet and even whole words, their configuration, size and shape can influence their connotation in shorthand. The same line, for example, may take on different meanings depending on its thickness. The position and lengths of lines can also be indicators of meaning, so precision is paramount to clarity. Learning shorthand can be as simple as assimilating the rules associated with your chosen type of shorthand.
The Pitman Shorthand method emerged in 1937. Since then, it's been adapted to work with over 15 languages. This system is primarily phonetic, and emphasizes consonants. Vowels can be skipped, but they may also be recorded using a series of dots, dashes or other simple markers. An interesting fact about Pitman Shorthand is that it employs a few shortcuts to make writing in shorthand even easier. These shortcuts involve standardizing symbols for common sounds in language. In English, Pitman has a specific symbol that will represent the "th" sound, for simplicity.
An alternative to Pitman's Shorthand is the Gregg system. Gregg Shorthand is more popular in the United States because of its accessibility. While both shorthand types are phonetic, the Gregg version emphasizes vowels, and demands that some vowels and consonants be written together. Line thickness and position is less important in this version, which frees the writer of many rules that could be confusing when using the Pitman version. The length of line arcs are extremely important, and differentiate between letters.
The History of Shorthand
The Pitman System
The Gregg System
Classes and Tutorials