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The Best Shorthand Writing Method for Students Worldwide

Introductory Section

We got used to read printed letters, however it takes much time for us to learn to write them. That is why school teachers teach students to write clearly in longhand. It goes without saying that learning to write in longhand is easier than achieving the mastery of printed writing. Still, it is only 10% faster. Today, there are different systems designed to help people improve their handwriting. Thus, why not try to avail yourself of one of such systems and enjoy the benefits of fast handwriting?

One of the advantages of using the best shorthand writing method for students is that you will learn to not only write quickly but also encode your messages, and no one will be able to decipher their meaning. Remember that being aware of the alternative options to longhand is not only funny but also useful.

It should be noted that the majority of alternative programs produce the words in the way they sound and not spelled. English spelling is rather peculiar. The number of sounds ranges from 32 to 50, while the number of letter sis fixed, i.e. 26. That is why, in some cases, it is very hard to identify how a specific word should be written. Even the smartest people sometimes fail to write particular words correctly.

In order to compensate the lack of letters in comparison with the number of sounds, some letters are joined together to express a specific sound. There would be nothing wrong with it if there were at least any logical rules for writing words with the help of the established combination of letters. However, everyone knows that there are no such rules, as about 60% of all words are spelled against the rules. For instance, one sound may be spelled in several ways.

As to the vowels, the situation is even more complicated. For example, the sound expressed by double “oo” can be spelled in 29 different ways (it goes about ordinary words), e.g. rule, soon, cruel, movement, to, cruise, etc., and in 11 more ways when it goes about uncommon words.  Approximately, every sound of the most widely used English words can be spelled in about 13 ways. Actually, if to count all words in English, it will be identified that each sound can be spelled in 28 ways, and about 40 sounds can be spelled in more than 1,100 ways. It becomes clear why even the best of us cannot spell all new words correctly.

Let us agree that such a situation in spelling is terrible. Thus, what is a solution to this problem? The best way out is to use a phonetic alphabet, i.e. one sound - one symbol. Due to the fact that we sometimes use a couple of letters to represent only one sound, a common English word consists of more letters than sounds. Writing texts by referring to the phonetic alphabet is faster, as one has to use fewer letters to represent a word. If it were possible to represent sounds with the help of simple symbols, the number of strokes required to write words would be decreased if compared with longhand. That is why alternative programs are considered the best shorthand method for students, as they make writing faster.

Pitman Technique

One of the well-known alternative approaches is a shorthand writing method devised by Isaac Pitman. It is based on geometrical lines and curves of different angles and length represented on a lined sheet of paper. Lines may be either thin or thick, and they are usually written by a special pen, though a pencil can be used as well.

The system created by Pitman is an entirely phonetic alphabet. However, it is still necessary to add diacritical marks to the lines to identify vowels what is actually weird. The mentioned marks are often omitted when one needs to write something very quickly. Pitman’s method can be regarded as a form of both shorthand and handwriting, as each word can be produced in a specific way. Shorthand is a set of abbreviations where only an outline of words is produced what is quite enough to let readers identify the very word and its meaning. Owing to readability, shorthand methods are considered a very fast means of writing. Once you learn to read the abovementioned outlines, you will be able to use the shorthand methods more efficiently. It is necessary to admit that this system is till utilized, in England namely. Though it may be hard to learn to deal with this technique, it makes the writing process quick and is used not only in English but also a number of other languages.

Shorthand Method 1

The most popular alternative method was worked out by J. R. Gregg in 1888. It is characterized by thick lines and the absence of diacritical marks. Moreover, when using this system, there is no need to use lined sheets. The method developed by Robert Gregg was more widely used in the USA than that of Pitman. It was taught in schools so that the prospective office workers acquired the skill necessary for taking dictations. There are still a great number of books in many libraries of America describing this system. It should be admitted that the technique offered by J.R. Gregg is just a shorthand method. Only writing the outlines of words is possible. It means that if you produce a text and transcribe it at once, you will be able to decipher it easily. However, if you try to interpret the meaning of the message that was written last year, you may not be able to do it unless you are a real expert in dealing with this system.

In theory, this method is presented as phonetic, however in practice its outlines follow either the sound or spelling of the word. There are many dictionaries by referring to which you will understand how to outline words. At the same time, these dictionaries will show you the imperfection of the method. It goes without saying that such a shorthand method for writing a mathematical rule, philological definition or any other issue is quick and attractive. Still, it is a little bit confusing for those intending to use it, as every symbol denoting vowels can present a few vowel sounds. If to compare this technique with handwriting, it can be said that the former is quick but hardly readable, while the latter is slow but easily readable.

Shorthand Method 2

The students from the UK (mainly) majoring in journalism are taught the Teeline shorthand technique during studies. This method was adopted by J. Hill in 1970. It is less complicated than that of Pitman, as it does not require using both thin and thick lines as well as diacritical marks. This system is not based on phonetics but on a common alphabet at the same time preserving its defects. In order to increase the speed of writing, vowels are often omitted what causes difficulties in reading (as with the majority of shorthand systems). This method is supposed to be helpful in taking dictations, as it produces the word outlines that have to be transcribed once being written. It is more suitable for experts rather than amateurs.

Shorthand Method 3

Numerous techniques for increasing the writing speed have been developed. Some of them are the following: Quickhand, Stenoscript, and others. Currently, Keyscript is treated as one of the most efficient stenography systems based on alphabet. Only a few new symbols have to be learns for its proper use. Since the majority of systems follow specific rules for creating abbreviations, your messages can be deciphered by reversing those rules. The benefit of employing the mentioned methods is that they are suitable for those performing writing both by a pen or on the keyboard. It is also possible to change the settings of the Word application in a way that it will decode words what will result in speed increase.

According to the rules, some vowels as well as words can be omitted. Consider the following example:

“The Sport Club sued the Forest Organization for cutting trees in the National Forests of Alabama, and the judge J. Martin decided that cutting tress damaged the endangered the golden-winged woodpecker.”

This message can be abbreviated in the following manner:

Sp Clb sued FO for ctt tr in NF’s of Al, v jdg J.M. dcd’d ctt tr damaged GWW.

Longhand methods are better than the shorthand ones, as they make everything clear. The aforementioned example has to be decoded once being written, as it will become incomprehensible later.

Though the majority of people prefer typing to writing, the discussed systems are still useful. Being the modification of the longhand, they preserve the defects of multi-stroke symbols. Moreover, being non-phonetic, they retain the changes in English orthography. However, they are not as attractive as those of Gregg and Pitman.

Shorthand Method 4

This system unlike those described above (Pitman’s excluded) is both stenography and handwriting. It includes the symbols identifying all vowels and consonants necessary for writing phonetically. By using this system, the words are produced in their full form what makes writing comprehensible. Additionally, this system uses simple strokes what makes its symbols cursive and the speed of writing high. By the way, the majority of symbols determining the consonants are identical to those used by Gregg’s Shorthand method. The key point that differs this system from the Gregg’s is the symbols that have been added to denote vowel sounds. In this relation, it is similar to that of Pitman, except for the use of diacritical marks, width of strokes, etc.

When the words are produced in their full form, they are shorter than being written in longhand. Moreover, the use of abbreviations makes the speed of writing very high. The major peculiarity of this system is that even without learning new abbreviations one can use it effectively. Additionally, the use of common punctuation marks is intrinsic to this method what makes writing even more readable.

Shorthand Method 5

This system is not meant to replace the longhand. It serves to record all sounds of human speech and not only those utilized for making words. The Visible Speech technique was developed by A. M. Bell in 1864 as a means of cutting vocal sounds into the set of symbols. Bell was working with deaf people and desired to show them how the sounds of speech are made with the help of a shorthand method based on the anatomical positions of the human vocal tract.

Visible Speech was the first method for noting the speech sounds regardless of the language and dialect. It is worth admitting that the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is formed on the basis of this system.

Shorthand Method 6

The IPA is utilized by all students dealing with speeches. Employing this method is more beneficial than that offered by Bell, as it is easier in use regardless of the means the writing is produced by, i.e. by hand or on the keyboard. The IPA is regarded as the best handbook about correct pronunciation, as other guides include considerable flaws.

This system is the most accurate mode of writing, as it differentiates between a large number of sounds needed for denoting words. By using this alphabet, one can create texts in diverse English dialects and other languages. The alphabets based on phonetics that are utilized by the alternative handwriting modes (such as Handywrite) are rather simple, as they use the minimum number of phonemes required for differentiating the words from each other. It lets users write in basic English. However, it does not recognize slight nuances of different dialects.

Shorthand Method 7

This system is actually a try to create an up-to-date ideographic writing mode based on notions, and not words. It has much in common with the writing systems of China and Egypt. A written from of Chinese can be read by those who speak incomprehensible languages such as Cantonese, Japanese, etc.

This system was devised by Charles Bliss whose initial idea was to create a common written language that could be learnt and spoken by all native speakers. It was planned that such a written language would be much easier to learn than any spoken ones such as Esperanto, for example. Bliss believed that a unique universal language would facilitate the communication between people from different countries and, as a result, would lead to the world peace, or at least make it theoretically possible.

At present, Bliss’s system is utilized to help people with serious speech defects communicate with each other. No one states that it makes writing very fast. Still, if you desire to try an absolutely different language system, start using Blissymbolics straight away.


The majority of people do not even think about learning any alternative shorthand method for writing chemical reactions, grammar rules, etc. It seems that students will never be offered any new method for making the process of writing lectures more efficient. However, it is hoped that a few reasonable people will understand that longhand is no longer effective and will try to create a useful alternative writing system suitable for everyone.

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