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.
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:
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.
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.
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.