Learning Simplified

Hello all,

I’m a college student who recently found out about shorthand (I guess I never really considered what was done before modern stenography machines), and have decided to learn Gregg Simplified. This will be something just done for fun in my spare time, as it seems like a good skill to have. It might be useful for lecture notes if I manage to learn it before I graduate, but more likely it would just be handy for anything I jot down on paper.

After reading around this site and the few other resources available online, I purchased the Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified (2nd edition, 1955) from Amazon, and got a few Gregg-ruled steno pads. I plan to just work my way through that book, but was wondering if anyone had other suggestions of (cheap) resources that would help me learn. I know there are dictionaries out there, books of varying difficulty written in Gregg, practice worksheets and things, etc., but I don’t know what’s really useful and what isn’t.

Also any general advice for beginners would be appreciated. I’m sure I’ll be back with specific questions later, but at this point I’ve just been writing letters and basic outlines given in the book over and over. I guess one question would be… how important is it that my letters/outlines look very similar to those in the book. I remember learning cursive in school, and tracing exactly the paths for the letters, with no real tolerance for anything else. For Gregg, though, I find myself writing letters less slanted than the book (it’s hard for me to do otherwise), and my outlines come out looking readable, but a bit different than those used by the author. Is that just a matter of style, or are there cases that are going to get me tripped up once I start learning more.

Oh, and one more question. What is the purpose of the vertical line down the middle of steno pads?

Thanks in advance.

(by jrdioko for everyone)

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9 comments Add yours
  1. Welcome, jrdioko.

    The "Functional Method" editions are strongly recommended as a starting point. http://www.abebooks.com/ lists several copies of "Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified Functional Method" starting at US$ 1.58.

    Not as cheap, but you might consider a different version altogether, "Gregg Notehand"—reportedly one of the easiest versions to learn and specifically meant for what you're describing. Abebooks, again, lists a bunch from $13.00 US.

    In any case, if you stick with it long enough curiosity will eventually force you back to the earliest versions, where you'll find new all sorts of great methods.

    > how important is it that my letters/outlines look very similar to those in the book

    I like the way the 1916 edition puts it:

    "There is no absolute standard as to length, as the characters, being founded on ordinary writing, vary in size, slant, etc., according to the personal habits of the writer. The size of the characters given in this manual will be a safe standard to adopt…"

    The geometric model for the whole alphabet is unfortunately not explained Simplified: the bisected and quadrisected elipse! Take a look at pages 1 and 8 of the "Pre-Anniversary" pdf at Andrew's site, linked in John's post, above.

  2. Yo, nizz.  Welcome to the group!  I love the Simplified system—the manual's pace is just right to keep my interest, but sometimes its figure-it-out-on-your-own style can be a bit frustrating.  So, my advice is:   a)  When you get stuck on an outline, be patient with yourself.  Let it let it simmer overnight and come back, if you have to.  Think of it as a puzzle and have fun discovering the meanings.  At first, I was dying for a transcription of the lessons, but after being forced to flex my brain muscles, I came to appreciate the mental exercise.  After all, knowing how to decypher unclear outlines is a skill most stenographers will use well beyond the beginner stage.  If worse comes to worse, of course, you can always ask for help here.   b)  Buy the Simplified dictionary!  You can get it for around five bucks.  It is true that the manual gives you the principles to write any word in the English language (others even), but there will undoubtedly be times when you just want to check to see how an expert does it.  I really felt crippled before getting the dictionary; it's a great learning tool.  Best of all, it matches the manual to make a snappy desk set!   As far as good penmanship, you will find that it is crucial in shorthand, since just a slight variation in an outline can change its meaning.  The Simplified manual doesn't cover much penmanship, but there are files in the Documents section that will help.  It seems the older publications tended to go into much greater detail concerning the proper way to do things; you can view a lot of them for free at Andrew's site: http:gregg.angelfishy.net (he added outline images to the brief form lists!).   Here is a discussion about the line in the middle of the pad (note that early posts are not displayed unless you click "previous"): Center Ruled Pads.     ______________________________ Shorthand: isn't it about time?

  3. Hi, jrdioko,   I would recommend that you "intend" to make your shorthand as similar in appearance to the models in your text as possible, but without getting too hung up on it. It is important that you do not draw the outlines, but write them. You will also find it very beneficial to read frequently the shorthand in the textbook, some of the time using a retracted pen to trace the outlines as you pronounce them aloud. You hand will gradually come to automatically produce shorthand more and more similar to the book as you continue to feed the shapes and movements into your subconscious; it is a gradual process and in fact an automatic one. Trust it.   I believe the Simplified version is ideally suited to the goals you have described for yourself.  Its advantages in relation to ease-of-learning greatly recommend it.   Best of luck to you, Guy 

  4. I think the functional method books are fine, but there's nothing wrong with the standard Simplified manual from Amazon–it's a good text, you already have it, and the functional method texts don't present a significant enough advantage (IMHO) that you should use them instead.  I don't have statistics, but I don't think the functional method books were ever very widely used in schools, back in the days when shorthand was actually taught.    Although I started out with Gregg Notehand in high school, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wants to really learn shorthand.  The Notehand adaptation eliminated too many principles of shorthand for it to be truly rapid writing.  The Notehand textook is interesting and gives lots of study and note-taking suggestions, but otherwise you won't be satisfied with the system it presents.  And if you learn something one way, it's hard to unlearn and then relearn later.   Alex

  5. Hey folks,

    I did have the statistics and the functional method, at least for DJ and S-90, was far more popular than the "regular" text since:

    It eliminated the purchase of a separate key.

    It avoided the subsequent loss the key.

    It avoided having students come to class with outlines they couldn't read which were generally not common words. Teachers don't like to spend lots of time on uncommon words.

    It allowed students to be self-sufficient.

    Don't ask me to quote the stats, however! It's been too long.


  6. Thanks all for your comments.

    "It probably also has a lot to do with learning styles. I like to have principles laid out up front, rather than having to figure them out from examples. Same way with learning foreign languages. "

    That's exactly how I think, so maybe the regular one is better. I might as well get both, though, since they're so cheap.

  7. Thanks, Marc.  That's interesting to know.  It seems to me that the regular (i.e., non-Functional Method) textbooks are much more widely available now (e-bay, used book services, etc.) than the Functional books.  Again, no statistics, but I'd say the books I see offered are at least 10:1 regular over functional.  Maybe the books that show up these days just aren't representative of what was actually sold and used.  I suspect thousands of used shorthand textbooks from schools just went to local landfills after the schools stopped teaching shorthand.  I don't think there would have been any other way for schools to dispose of them.   After Notehand, my first shorthand text was the original (yellow) DJS book, so that presentation of the principles, organization of the material, etc. always seems "normal" to me, and the functional presentation always seems "different".  Maybe it just reflects my personal experience.    It probably also has a lot to do with learning styles.  I like to have principles laid out up front, rather than having to figure them out from examples.  Same way with learning foreign languages.    Alex

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