5 ways to increase shorthand speed

About a year ago, I wrote an introduction to teeline shorthand post. It’s by far my most popular post, and brings a steady flow of visitors to the blog. As there must be at least a handful of people who have found it useful, I thought I’d revisit the subject with five tips on increasing your shorthand speed. My own experience is in Teeline shorthand, but these general principles can be applied to other methods, such as Pitman’s.

1. Practice

Practice, practice and more practice. Shorthand tutors usually recommend around an hour a day spent perfecting outlines and dictation. The more time you give shorthand, the more success you’ll have with it. From personal experience, if you can’t manage an hour a day, it’s better to practice little and often than for hours on end. I sometimes found after an extended time period you tend to question why a word has a certain outline, and get bogged down in unnecessary details. Try practicing for 30 minutes a day to keep the theory fresh in your mind.

2. Special Outlines

Commonly used words have special outlines to save even more time than writing with just the teeline alphabet. In some cases, they’ll be the same outline as a singular teeline letter but the context of the text will help when transcribing. I’ve noted some examples below:

Some basic special outlines.

Some basic special outlines.

3. Special Phrases

If you think your speed will increase by using special outlines for words, just think how much time you’ll save when using special outlines for entire phrases. Below are two sets of special phrases containing the words ‘be’ and ‘that’. This should be useful if you’re just starting out with Teeline as they’re very commonly used word groupings.

Basic special phrases.

Basic special phrases.

4. Control your nerves

The worst part of taking shorthand notes from dictation is not knowing what words you’ll need to write in advance. Inevitably you’ll come across words you’ve not used before but don’t panic. Putting a technically incorrect outline which will hopefully remind you of the correct word later is fine. If you’re totally stuck don’t waste time dwelling on it. Move on to words you’re more familiar with so you can keep up with dictation. Obviously this links back to point one, practice. Drill those unknown words until you can write from ‘muscle memory’ but don’t sweat it when you don’t know the answer.

5. Set realistic targets and achieve them.

Be realistic – you can only achieve speeds of 100 words per minute or more if you have the time to dedicate to shorthand.  Set goals which are achievable (but challenging) within the time and effort you’re willing to put in. Set a target of 40wpm and master this before moving on to 50wpm, and so on.

I must practice my shorthand to get a high speed

I must practice my shorthand to get a high speed.


It can be difficult to find comprehensive shorthand resources online, particularly free ones, so I hope these tips are useful for you – whether you’re a beginner or just want to improve your skills. If it’s still a bit baffling then refer back to my previous post for a reminder of the basics of Teeline shorthand. As I’ve said before, signing up for a course where you can ask questions and get one to one teaching will be the most effective way to learn shorthand. Please do leave a comment as I’d love to get your feedback, I’ll also do my best to answer any questions you might have.


38 thoughts on “5 ways to increase shorthand speed

  1. Practising nonsense words with high frequency letters can help, especially combinations of ‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘pl’, ‘ps’, ‘tr’, ‘fr’, ‘fl’, etc. That way you associate the sound with the shape and are not ‘blocked’ by an association between the word and the Teeline shape.

  2. Pingback: 5 ways to increase shorthand speed | The Thai POV

  3. Pingback: 5 ways to increase shorthand speed | Amazing Thai Knick Knacks

  4. thanks for these tips…I am also working as stenographer…thanks for shorthand he give me reward for this great job….I love this…so much….I suggest the people this is the right path to achieve you goals…..

    • Yes, Pitman’s is a different type of shorthand to Teeline which uses different techniques. The general tips given here will help increase speed but I’m mainly referring to Teeline as that’s what I know. :)

      • how we remember rule pitman and teeline rules? A huge difference between them
        Tell me some tips to increase shorthand speed and accuracy s.hand. awaiting your reply on this id(farooq1124@yahoo.com) Add me on face book (farooq Ahmad)

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  6. Great post – the “little and often” tip is an excellent idea. As for the nerves, that can play a big part on exam day!

    The other thing I found is that it was hard to find audio to practice and while you might feel confident in your theory, you absolutely have to practice with a CD or a live speaker.

    • if you agree with me?????????? there is a great difference between pitman and teeline rule…………….
      how we increase speed in shorthand . reply through email (farooq1124@yahoo.com) awaiting your reply through e-mail

  7. In Pitman Shorthand, so many logograms and phases are there. Only practice is required. An hour practice everyday is better than more time after a gap. Gap reduces speed and accuracy.

    Alindra Barman

  8. I sincerely think that you have to build up great amount of legal terms if you want to be a good legal stenographer. Skills and considerable amount of words goes hand and hand.

  9. hey can u tell me how to improve accuracy in short time nd I m practising steno by pitman not this form and pitman’s outline is differ from this one

  10. HOw increase shorthand speed and accuracny. please send some tips and rules that are near pitman’s book rule . tell me detial latest version shorthand i.e. pitman & 700 (s/hand Book). please reply through email and add me on face book (farooq1124@yahoo.com)

  11. Okay, i am aware the author can speak for herself but just for anyone who thinks they can write shorthand without understanding how to read basic english, The author here studied Tee Line shorthand. She can not give you advice on Pitman shorthand. Look at blends and passages written in the two types. They are a completely different thing. So how do you improve in Tee Line? read the 5 tips above which are great. How do you improve pitman? ask someone who has studied it

    • Hi Viren,
      Feel free to share your own methods which you feel work better than those given in this post. I’m always looking for new tips and tricks! I’d also be interested to hear why you think practice, using special outlines and special phrases, not sweating the mistakes and setting realistic targets are the wrong methods for shorthand success.
      Thanks, Emma

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