New Starter – Anniversary or Simplified?

Hi all, I wonder if someone could advise me on which version of Gregg to go for.  In my work, I am required to interview people, then type up a report of the interview later.  Generally, the interviewees are v.intelligent and speak quickly.  I am not required to give a verbatim record, but would like to be able to record most of what is said, and verbatim for “the important bits”.  I found a “Simplified” version of Gregg in an old box and wondered about trying it.  Of course, the Angelfishy website then introduced me to Anniversary etc… 

The question is which would be the best for my needs?  I don’t have lots of free time, but am very keen to learn (and to teach my four young children in due course – I was taught to type properly as a child and it was one of the best skills I learned!).  Is it worth the harder work to start with Anniversary, or should I start with Simplified and then “graduate up” to Anniversary later?  
This may be completely the wrong question to ask, but just how superior to Pitman is Gregg?  Should I even consider “the other one”?  Hope that didn’t hurt too much to even suggest it ! 🙂  Please remember I’m a newbie, so such ignorance I hope will be excused.
Many thanks all

(by island_dreamer4 for everyone)

18 comments Add yours
  1. *Especially* since you don't have mounds of free time and would like to start using your system soon, I recommend Simplified!

    While Anniversary has plenty of merit, it was designed for the constant break-neck speeds of court reporting and as such has over a hundred more brief forms, literally hundreds of "special forms" which are basically brief forms for less common words, many more principles to further shorten words (some only apply to a handful of words), and much more vigorous phrasing (linking related words together like at-the-earliest-date or "I-should-like-(to)-know").

    So if you start Simplified, it will get you up and going soon enough, and is fast enough to meet any business need, including verbatim writing, with practice (as with any Gregg edition).

    If, a few years down the line, you feel tempted by the interesting literature Anniversary has to offer (Simplified is exclusively dry business letters), then you'll already a handsome start to add on the Anniversary extras.

    I'm personally a Simplified writer, so I'll be more than happy to answer questions you may have or exchange letters with you to help you learn! My email is [email protected] if you care to drop me a line 🙂

    As for Anniversary, I'm currently undecided about switching to it. I really like the reading material and some of the principles, but my Simplified habits are well-engrained and serve me very well already. One of those not-broken-don't-fix-it kind of things.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  2. The choice between the earlier versions isn't strictly about performance since Simplified can take you well up to verbatim speed anyway (not that more than a small few can still do that since it requires such time and dedication).

    With respect to Chuck, I have a different sense about the text arrangement. My bias for esoteric things notwithstanding, I felt 1916 out-simplifies Simplified. Andrew has a pdf at if you're also feeling esoteric, and wish to compare. In any case, if you chose 1916 you'd also want to purchase "Graded Readings" to study along with the manual.

    One last option, since you're not looking for verbatim speed and you haven't invested any time into a shorthand system yet, I'm about 3/4 through creating a pdf of Henry Sweet's *extremely* esoteric (but consumately elegant) "Current Orthographic Shorthand", which I'll post somewhere within a few weeks or so. It would be recommended for it's simplicity (compared to Gregg and other verbatim systems) and the fact that it can be used orthographically (just as a more efficient Latin alphabet) as well as phonetically (for extra speed).

    Good luck!

  3. Personally, I learned Gregg Shorthand by going through the Simplified (2nd edition) manual, which I think is very well-arranged and suitable for learning. It is what is compatible with my brain anyway.

    Later, I just went through the Anniversary version, finding differences and adapting my writing to it. It is hard to advise someone to learn one or the other, because it is easy to see that converting one to the other usually requires unlearning several forms, which might already be committed to memory very well.

    My recommendation is to learn Simplified, then if you are feeling adventurous some time, start adopting Anniversary principles and brief forms.

    Pitman versus Gregg? It is apples versus oranges. Pitman is notoriously more difficult than Gregg, plus it is less usable in our world of single-thickness pens. But what can I say? I am a Gregg writer. 🙂

    Good luck!

    —Andrew Owen

  4. I agree — Simplified is easier to learn, not just because there are less things to remember, but because the manuals are better arranged for learning than the Pre-anniv and Anniv versions. If I were you, since you already have the Simplified book, I would just go ahead and use it!

  5. Thanks all for your very helpful suggestions.  I would like to delve a little deeper:  I like the idea of starting with Simplified, especially if, as you say NiftyBoy, it will be less of a drain on time and will get me up and running more quickly.    However, on reflection I would like to have the flexibility to use it for more than just business.  Thus, Routine-Sibling's comment about Anniversary having more interesting literature to offer raises a question in my mind….is there much literature in Simplified to "enjoy" reading, or is it mostly business letters?  Andrew, I love the fact that your website has fables in Anniversary – I think reading such literature would help speed my learning process.  Does Simplified offer similar diversity of literary genre to practise with?    Also, if I choose Simplified, is the Simplified Manual itself sufficient to learn from or should I get hold of other Simplified material to practise with?   Many thanks.    

  6. The Gregg company published some literature in both pre-anniversary and anniversary; however, getting your hands on it isn't as easy as running to your local B&N store.  These are antique books now, and some of them have reached the stage of being really rare.  The Gregg version of "Alice in Wonderland", for example, is sometimes listed for several hundred dollars . . . other titles, like A. Conan Doyle's "The Sign of the Four" show up a little more frequently.  And both of those books are pre-anniversary, so even learning anniversary will still leave a few mysteries to be deciphered.    Also, even though Gregg published a number of titles, the list remains rather short, so picking a system just to access literature probably isn't a good way to go . . .   The Simplified manual marked a change in format and plate style for the Gregg company, and introduced a much more modern "feel" to the publications.  Also, the amount of reading and practice material was substantially increased; the anniversary manual is very limited in this respect–it presents principles and then just a few sample sentences, so it has to be supplemented with other books.    I write DJS myself, but I like the Simplified manual and think it would be a good place to start.  The key thing is actually working through the manual and doing the practice; shorthand is a skill that develops only through repetitive training.    Alex

  7. As an Anniversary writer, let me give you some input.   First as a Simplified writer if you're worried or want additional reading material you could make your own reading material and a few here are doing that now in some posts. (Interesting Things to Read – link to one).  And you can do that too for yourself and others. If you are limited on time and want to learn shorthand quicker, then this would be the one I'd suggest.  I do think Simplified (from what I've saw) is a good system.   For Anniversary. Anniversary is hard.  Well was for me.  And that's after learning DJS and doing  good with that (even getting up to 120 wpm on short easy letters).  BUT it's not impossible.  I wanted to learn it to write faster and because when I needed shorthand for my job, that's the book I found at the second hand store and this site wasn't here and I had no clue what I was buying.  It was Gregg Shorthand.    I've went through both manuals (little Annivesray book on Angelfishy [have my own hard book] and the Functional Method manuals.  The Function Method of Anniversary has tons of reading & writing material in it.  It's a 2 book instruction book.  I have the second book here and it has over 600 pages total–with the key for the first and part of the second book.  Of course it is a small book, about 5×7.  But lots of reading & writing practice.  The little Anniversary book (on Angelfishy) is short and quick to learn, and it is suggested the other additional book you would need is the Speed Studies (and from my understanding a later 1930's book, the first wasn't in sync with the book as much, it's the ones I have).  You don't necessarily need it, but it gives additional lessons and reading (mostly what's in the Function Method book).   The extra books aren't too hard to get, but you do have to search the auction sites for them or second hand stores or yard sales.  And it may take a while to find them at the price you want.  I seemed to find them pretty easy, but then I didn't look often and was finding other books in the meantime.   There are also additional books in Anniversary that are used after the instruction books.  I think I have about 5 or 6 (I don't know how that happened…).  Most are business letters in them, but have an occasional essay or article inserted in the lessons.  I have 2 that are written entirely in shorthand (with maybe a brief paragraph on some instruction), but then again, mostly business oriented.   So if you have time and want to learn Anniversary, I think it would be great.  And I think it would be great if you learned Simplified. Debbi

  8. Wow, I came in here with guns blazing, expecting to have to defend Simplified. I agree with all the above. By the way, if i remember correctly, among the dry business correspondence, there are some literary passages in the Simplified manual. Wasn't there one about a fox or something, and one about Vanderbilt's lazy grandchildren?

    Anyway, Island dreamer, I'm exciting to hear about your newfound interest…reminds me of myself three years ago. Now I use Gregg on a daily basis at work and home to write quick notes and keep meeting minutes. If—God forbid—I ever have kids, they're going to learn to write Gregg before learning to speak! (not really) I hope you will take advantage of our local experts during the learning process and keep us "posted" on your progress. Welcome to the group.
    Praise the Lord, I saw the light line!

  9. I love the Gregg Notehand books . . . that adaptation was designed for the "ordinary person" making notes in ordinary situations, not for secretaries, court reporters, etc.  So significant speed was sacrificed in exchange for simplicity and increased ease of learning.  The Notehand books are packed with all kinds of suggestions and ideas, as well as interesting little historical anecdotes about shorthand and famous people.   Interestingly enough, the Notehand textbooks are also hard to find (although not impossible) and they tend to be really expensive for some reason.  Seems to me there should be hundreds of thousands of them lying around, but they don't show up very often on E-bay and the copies at are overpriced, usually.   I enrolled in a Notehand class in high school, in 1969, my junior year.  The class was limited to seniors, but my counselor let me enroll anyway.  The class ended up being over-enrolled by one person, and the teacher (a Nazi-style business teacher) announced that someone had to leave.  I was the obvious person, since I wasn't supposed to be there anyway, but decided to not volunteer to go.  The teacher was obviously angry with the class because no one was exiting, so she decided on the silent technique.  She just glared at the whole group without saying anything . . . that lasted about 5 minutes, and one of the seniors finally couldn't take it any more and got up and left the room.  Whew.  And I've got to tell you, I really loved the class–it was more fun than most of the classes I took in high school.   After that, it was an easy transition to DJS, and that's where I've stayed, although both Simplified and anniversary are appealing to me.   Notehand appeared originally in 1960, and the second edition was published in 1968. In addition to the textbook, there was a soft cover workbook.  I imagine there was a teacher's manual, but I've never seen one.    Alex

  10. Well, given that in an interview you're trying to both write down what was said *and* stimulate further conversation, I'd say Notehand is just out of the picture since you need speed to do this naturally. I've done a few interviews myself, and I'd say the longest time you have to keep writing after the interviewee stops without it feeling like a conversation-killing silence is three or four seconds. And many interviewees aren't comfortable being tape-recorded (I know I'm not), so that's not always a guarantee.

    Since Island Dreamer doesn't have lots of free time, I'd say that rules Anniversary and possibly even Simplified out. I've heard that DJS can get up and running faster than Simplified can, but if it's not that big a difference, then the two are both up for grabs!
    I even suggested Teeline in an email since he lives in the Channel Islands in UK! It'll be interesting to see what the final choice is 🙂

  11. Niftyboy sez: Well, given that in an interview you're trying to both write down what was said *and* stimulate further conversation, I'd say Notehand is just out of the picture since you need speed to do this naturally. I've done a few interviews myself, and I'd say the longest time you have to keep writing after the interviewee stops without it feeling like a conversation-killing silence is three or four seconds. And many interviewees aren't comfortable being tape-recorded (I know I'm not), so that's not always a guarantee. —- I agree that the choice would be largely a matter of the interviewing method –whether or not you are using a recording device– as well as the nature of the uptake material/notes. If the need is to record large blocks of verbatim or near-verbatim text, then Notehand is probably not a go, I agree. Niftyboy sez:
    Since Island Dreamer doesn't have lots of free time, I'd say that rules Anniversary and possibly even Simplified out. —-   No Simplified? Hmmm.   Niftyboy sez: I've heard that DJS can get up and running faster than Simplified can, but if it's not that big a difference, then the two are both up for grabs! —-   That would be my guess. I've got the Centennial manuals, though, and in terms of presentation, that seems to be pretty easy — although I'm not familiar enough with this to know what kinds of speeds are possible.   Niftyboy sez:
    I even suggested Teeline in an email since he lives in the Channel Islands in UK! —–   Yes, the nice thing about Teeline is that there is a lot of current study material (nice for current terminology, etc), and for someone in the UK, there is likely a wide variety of learning options . . . . unlike Gregg.   Niftyboy sez:
    It'll be interesting to see what the final choice is 🙂 —-   Yesindeedaroonie. And no matter the choice, I'm always interested to hear the results.   🙂   Kindest, ~stenomouse

  12. Just a few thoughts here about the discussion.   Before Notehand there was Gregghand (1932, I believe).  Someone I know said it was the precursor to DJ.   I recommend DJ on my site (ShorthandShorthandShorthand) simply because it has fewer exceptions than Simplified, fewer rules than Simplified, and, unlike Simplified, all past tenses are attached.  Most people learning shorthand today on their own don't want to spend too much time learning it and don't want to have tons of exceptions, especially if they can "get by" with Speedwriting or someone similiar which takes even less time to learn.  DJ also has a good, proven speed potential.  After all, if someone is going for verbatim reporting, there's always a Stenotype, right?   (Quick, Simplifed writers!  What are the 8 words where you drop the final T?  When is the past tense disjoined?)   As an Anniversary writer, I think Anniversary (or pre-Anniversary) is a great system.  Yes, it wasn't exactly easy to learn and that R-reversing principle mademe insane but I made it to the 140-150 range with practice.  A shorthand teacher I met many years back lamented that I could have been even faster had I been "properly" taught DJ (which she taught).  Oh, well.  That's how it goes!   Marc  

  13. I…um…they're…uh…Albrecht? stout? rat? Shucks, i dunno…

    I disjoin the past tense as a clue that the outline is a brief form or otherwise incomplete, like when applying the last letter omission rule (which I can't rememeber). I'm sure I'm forgetting something else, though. At least I didn't cheat and look it up!

    Shorthand: isn't it about time?

  14. ShorthandMarc: The exceptions I think you're getting at are where if you evenly applied the rule across the board, you'd end up with some words that aren't as clear as they should be. An example is "dedicate" which has the ending spelled out, to avoid a potentially ambiguous "d-e-c" when written in haste, or "towards" being spelled "t-ord-s" instead of "t-u d" when that's a matter of pronunciation.

    I can name the 8 (7) easily because I use them often: best, first, past, rest, test, cost, last (lasted, lasts). I consider this an easy trade-off over having to always write the final T, which can be quite awkward/long in some words (like "detected") or result in additional strokes ("actor", "respectful", "activity", etc).

    As for past tense disjoining, if the last letter of the root is missing, disjoin. Pretty simple! Though I do wish it were just more general like Anniversary (if it's awkward, disjoin!). I hate writing words like "figured" in pure Simplified. I just cheat and disjoin it like Anni anyway 😀

  15. I guess it depends on which DJS textbooks he gets.  If I remember correctly, when I learned that one, I had 2 big college textbooks, and about 40+ lessons to learn all of it in, with tons of reading and writing exercises.  So it may not be any easier to quicker to learn, unless he does half of each of the writing assignments with those textbooks.   So, again it just depends on what books he has.

  16. You can learn the whole theory with the basic DJS textbook.  The 1963 (yellow) textbook actually has ten chapters, and a total of 70 lessons, but the lessons are reasonably short.    After the basic text, there are separate volumes for "Dictation", "Transcription", and "Speed Building".  I think each book was designed for a one-semester course, so the whole series would cover 2 years.    There are equivalent books for DJS for college, and also in the DJS second edition, which came out in 1971.    Alex

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