Links: Getting Started with Shorthand (En français aussi!)

UPDATE July 2015: Nous avons ajouté une section pour la sténographie française que vous trouverez en bas. 

Today, with the advent of computers and pocket recorders, shorthand has largely fallen out of popularity. But there are still some people, like me, who are just interested to find out what this lost art was like to use and have some fun along the way.

If you’re interested in speed, you should probably try writing Pitman. The speed record for Pitman Shorthand is 322 words per minute, though it is probably the most difficult to learn on this list. It requires that some strokes be thicker and thinner, as it was meant to be used with a fountain pen, but the same can be achieved with a pencil and the correct technique. If you are interested here’s a website with all the basic principles, along with loads of links to other courses and websites: Long Live Pitman’s Shorthand!. Or you go straight to the full pdf manual.

Arguably the most popular of all shorthand systems is the Gregg system, at least in North America (the picture above is in Gregg). It does not require thick and thin strokes, nor does it distinguish between strokes on the line or above, so it can be written on blank sheets of paper. It’s also quite unique among shorthand systems by being very rounded and cursive-looking. It is only slightly slower than Pitman, with a record of 282 wpm. There are many versions of Gregg, the hardest and fastest being Pre-Anniversary (1916), and the slowest and easiest being Series 90 (1978). It is recommended that Simplified (1949) be for non-business use, and Anniversary (1929) for court reporters and such, though you can visit this website for in depth descriptions of all the system. Or you can go ahead and download a pdf manual for the 1929 Anniversary version.

Although there are many more systems, the last one I want to talk about here is Teeline. It is much slower than the other systems, but it is much easier to learn. It is very popular with people in the UK, and is used a lot by journalists there. Although it is rarely used above 140 wpm, most people find it adequate for everyday use. I myself have been learning it for about two weeks, and I can do about 30 wpm. Courses can be easily found in the UK, but it is difficult to find a course that teaches it for free online. However, there is an awesome pdf that covers pretty much all the basics.

J’ai experimenté un peu avec le système Duployé, créé en 1860 par Émile Duployé. Le manuel est ici. C’est un système assez simple à apprendre, mais moi je le trouve un peu laid. Il utilise beaucoup des cercles et des lignes droites, ce qui peut être difficile à garder lisible à haute vitesse. Par contre, c’est un système conçu spécialement pour le français, alors vous y trouverez beaucoup d’abréviations et trucs pour sauver du temps.

La sténographie Gregg était originalement créée pour la langue anglaise en 1888 par John Robert Gregg. C’est le système le plus célébré du monde, mais particulièrement dans les États-Unis (le système Pitman était plutôt utilisé dans le Royaume-Uni). Il y avait beaucoup des adaptations pour des autres langues et, bien que des systèmes originalement français, comme le Duployé, sont plus communs en France, la version française de Gregg avait de bon succès en Québec, où on avait besoin d’un système utile pour écrire en deux langues. La version que j’utilise est la version de R. J. Sénécal (manuel ici), publié en 1939. Cette version est très liée à la version Anniversary en anglais, qui était publié en 1929.

To practise speed with your shorthand, you’d probably have to try getting some dictation recordings, where people speak at a certain speed so you can write things down. Although there are not many available for download that are below 50 wpm, there is a YouTube channel that has a couple under 50, along with speeds up to 180 wpm. And there are many other systems as well! A great website I found that covers shorthand in general is It focuses more on Gregg shorthand but provides links to lots of different alternative systems as well. And you can even find some dictation mp3 files too, so there you go!

Are you going to try learning shorthand. Or, if you already know shorthand, which method do you prefer? Tell us in the comments!

One thought on “Links: Getting Started with Shorthand (En français aussi!)

  1. Thanks a bunch for putting this up! I’ve been looking all over for a place to find a manual or some instruction that goes beyond just a few little odds and ends. If speed isn’t paramount — and I’m planning to use Teeline primarily for ‘writing stuff down’ – this is a good system. I’ve frankly had misgivings about working with a phonetic system, because I actually recognize words more easily based upon the letters they contain, rather than the phonemes. For whatever reason. I think the same would be true of a lot of people who write. So, thanks again, this is a huge help.

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