Comma Question

In my Simplified manual, why are all the commas printed typeface, instead of written in by hand?  Is it that commas are supposed to be omitted when writing Gregg, and that they are just teaching me comma usage for transcription purposes?  Or is there something later in the book that I haven’t come across yet?

See Share Your Gregg Inventions and Contrivances and for more on the comma.

(by johnsapp for everyone)


14 comments Add yours
  1. The answer is basically yes. You don't need to write the commas, because they can be inferred from the context. However, if you need to, you should circle them so as not to get confused at transcription time. Check pages 136-137 (Chapter 6) of the Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified, 2d Ed. Basically they are in typeface for legibility purposes.

  2. Commas are supposed to be encircled by the writer so that they are not confused with a shorthand outlines. In fact, all punctuation marks are supposed to be encircled. You probably haven't gotten to the encircling part. Brian

  3. I don't know if they have to be encircled.  The only punctuation I ever learned were period, new paragraph, question mark, dash, hypen, parenthesis. I did learn to circle the comma when I took a speedwriting course (longhand-shorthand).  So I have done that.  I was just refering to the annversary edition from the site and in the first Reading and Dictation practice (#13) it has a semi color (same one we use in long hand) which is not circled.  I guess it depends on what works for you with regards to speed and dictation.  If the person talking specifies a semicolor or something, I would think put it in your notes so you don't forget as you're quoting them.  I've done that, just to be on the safe side (some bosses are like that). Debbi

  4. All points are well taken. I guess I didn't mean all. The comma is intended to be encircled, and semicolons and colons are also encircled in the expert texts.   What I think I meant was that the other marks–parentheses, hyphens, dashes–are also set apart so as not to be confused with shorthand outlines. Parens are crossed in the middle, and hyphens and dashes are doubled.   Brian

  5. The first time that I really saw commas being incircled was in a 1940's Anniversary College Speedbuilding book.

    With my penmanship, just writing a comma s starting at the line and going down makes it different from the comma s that ends at the line. For my purposes, it is much faster than encircling them.

    However, when taking dictation, wouldn't it be prudent not to waste time making commas when you can just add the commas when you transcribe? With word processors now, we can edit whatever we want before it prints; so, the addition of commas really is not at all necessary until transcription. That is just mine opinion. 🙂

  6. Just a few thoughts on commands from the OTHER Marc.

    When I was a secretary, putting in commas and other punctuation markes during dictation was rare for me. I did encircle commas but left the other punctuation (such as the colon or semicolon) unencircled. I think putting in commas takes to much thought if the dictation is rapid and can slow down one's writing.

    In Anniversary books, most commas are NOT circled in the rare instances they are put in at all. In some of the Anniversary speed texts, the punctuation is circled in the Lillian Hutchinson English examples for emphasis. My favorite example of the urgency of a comma is:

    No price too high.
    No, price too high.

    Changes are, were I taking this down at a good rate of speed, I'd drop the comma and pobably get fired.



  7. "Part of the reasons that the Gregg text emphasize the comma is that they are trying to teach punctuation in addition to shorthand." Ok…so how was this exactly: were people really illiterate back then, really unconfident in secretarys' and Gregg-students' ability, or were words like "ad," "unusual," "dismal," and "review" just evolved and needed to catch on before they became lay vocabulary of the nescient proles of yore? (He he…I love that…nescient proles. I've found myself contemptualizing people with that under my breath when they occasionally do the things they do that makes you glad for your sense of humour and the possibility of escaping along to the sides of sharp, witty people) Seriously, why do they have definitions like "Manual, a handbook." before a practice in the Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified? It's not like they're gonna be picking up a manual if they don't know what it is! Same with the comma rules and some of the other tidbits of "did-they-actually-write-that?!?"s that you find. (Yes…you do find them! He he…you do…) ./[tyler]

  8. LOL about "manual", Tyler!  Right on.  I too wondered why the authors defined such simple words.  Maybe it was because students often stumbled over those outlines — not that they thought definitions were needed.  Really, they could have just said "look out for these tough outlines in the upcoming lesson: ad, unusual, dismal and review."  But, in order to fool the student into thinking he had decyphered the outlines on his own, they disguised their little cheat sheet as a vocabulary lesson.  A good thing, because it is easy for a beginner to become discouraged by roadblocks; and this way he doesn't feel as spoon fed.   As far as the comma lessons, well, it is important for a secretary to punctuate well.  A great many people, including myself, don't always know where to use a comma, and as S.Marc pointed out (good one), misplaced commas beget displaced employees.

  9. "Marginal reminders," such as the correct spelling of the word MANUAL, have a history.

    They were developed because not all students studying shorthand are as literate and brilliant as WE are in this group. O:-) Some of them–GASP!–actually would transcribe the word as MANUEL. Marginal reminders tried to point out the words which would either have a difficult-to-read outline or would cause a transcription problem. Remember, too, that the regular text (as opposed to college editions) were meant for high school students and, in some causes, junior high students.

    Also keep in mind, as I always say, as time progressed and women had more career opportunities open to them, the brightest and best became, for example, lawyers, not legal secretaries. And less time was being spent in school systems on things like spelling and grammar. So the pool of students taking shorthand classes, in general, tended to be less-well prepared in English skills. Add to that the number of non-native English speakers taking shorthand classes and, I think, you can understand why MANUAL was necessary as a marginal reminder!


  10. I had always put commas and periods inside closing quotation marks, until about two years ago.  Somehow, someone in college convinced me that the period goes inside only when quoting a sentence or phrase, and outside when putting a "term" in quotation marks.  I don't remember if I actually found out for sure if it was true.   E.g. (from my message 12) – LOL about "manual", Tyler!

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