Do you use Shorthand?

While shorthand may seem outdated, it's a unique skill that's still used to good effect

Shorthand, a form of notetaking that uses symbols and lines, was used extensively by ‘secretaries’ and personal assistants for many years.

Technology has made the ability to record notes and conversations at speed, to provide an accurate reference for future transposing, a much easier process however, good old Shorthand still has its place.

Shorthand has been recorded as far back as Ancient Greece when Xenophon wrote the memoirs of Socrates. This become known as “Tironian Notes”. In the 19th century, in formal business settings, it was refined to “Gregg, Pitman or Teeline Shorthand” and “Geometric Shorthand”, also known as “short drawing”.  

The system works well for English speakers and has been adapted to many other languages, even including Asian countries that use symbols in their written form. The lines of shorthand do not represent the words being used, but dictates the sounds that the speaker makes. It records the noises that are made and omits silent letters.

Today we can use voice-to-text technology and have transcripts of meetings ready before the meeting wraps up. Features on Zoom can create live auto-transcription for additional assistance live during meetings.

Although, there seems to be little use for shorthand today there are exceptions. The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters offers training and resources for unique circumstances that require shorthand records of conversations. Journalists have said that it is quicker to type from shorthand notes. Many government meetings and court proceedings can’t legally be audio recorded and require shorthand notes to be taken by a trained stenographer.

While shorthand may seem outdated, it’s a unique skill that’s still used to good effect.

Here are some examples of phrases and words used during historic speeches along with the shorthand note.