How To Create Shorthand

Shorthand is not only used by secretaries and assistants to jot down verbal information but is also used by journalists, writers and even the occasional student. Sometimes, a person uses shorthand just to quickly write down her thoughts and ideas that she can later transcribe into its full form.

Even with available portable recorders, shorthand is still being used today. Gregg, Pitman and Teeline are a few of the shorthand styles you can choose to learn. But if you would rather use your own form of shorthand, here are some suggestions on how to go about creating one.

  • List the common words you use. Create a list of all the words that you normally find in your writings or notes. These are the words that you need to make shortcuts for. There may also be long words in your field of study or profession that you want to be able to write down quickly so include these words in your list.
  • Use only one shorthand for a particular word or phrase. Do not confuse yourself by using one shorthand for more than one word or phrase. Each shorthand should uniquely identify only one word or phrase.
  • Make use of easy to draw symbols. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Many symbols can be used in place of regular words and phrases. For example, the question mark “?” symbol can be used to replace the word “question.” You can find a variety of symbols and shapes in the character dialog box of your word processing document.
  • Create new word shortcuts or incorporate existing ones. Invent your own shorthand for common words. “Tnx” can stand for “thank or thanks.”  Instant messaging and text messaging has paved the way for the creation of shortcuts. See if you can include these shortcuts in your own shorthand. For instance, BTW is often used in instant messaging. This means “by the way.”
  • Make a list of your shortcuts. It is possible that you already use a few shorthand strokes. For example, you may be using a particular symbol to replace a certain often used word. Build a list of your shortcuts. You can use a small notebook to indicate the shortcut and the word or phrase that it refers to. If the symbols are available on the keyboard, you can build your list on the computer instead.
  • Always use your shorthand. There is no use creating a shorthand if you cannot remember it. Use your shorthand as often as possible so you get used to your shortcuts. After creating notes using your shorthand, don’t wait too long to translate your notes. Read your shorthand notes right after you have written them. This gives you the opportunity to clarify some points or verify the information you wrote down in cases where the notes refer to a lecture or an interview.
  • Incorporate your shorthand into your word processor’s spell checker. If you use words for your shorthand, create a dictionary for these shorthand words within your spell check program. This way, the shorthand words will not be flagged as errors.

There are a number of predefined shorthand styles you can learn. Most are tried and tested. But, it doesn’t mean they are easy to memorize and use. You can create your own style of shorthand that is more personal and easily understood by you.


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