Shorthand article

I’m not sure if this has already been posted (it’s from 2004), but I came across it while browsing Google for “shorthand” pictures.

It’s interesting 🙂 The two pictures on the right look broken, but if you click them, they come up. I can’t make out much in the top picture except “my plaintiff” and “bail”.

One thing I’ve always wondered is how you mark who’s saying what when you’re taking business minutes or court dictation… anyone care to enlighten me? 🙂

(by niftyboy1 for everyone)

27 comments Add yours
  1. Somewhere someone has said how the court reporting notebooks work, I've read it but can't remember…   I think this is how in court reporting. You'll notice the small columns on the left side of the notebook, and the small columns from the center tab, the first one is for the judge and you start there… the second column starts the attorneys… the thrid the witness on the stand.  At least I think that's how it's done.    For office I've just used long hand and their initials.  And start a new row or paragrah for them. 

  2. Shorthand Heaven (link) post had a link to some old books.  One was The Gregg Reporter, for court reporting (1909) that I saved.  It said to learn to write names in shorthand.  It says later (page 10) you can write them in longhand first time, but then in shorthand thereafter.  It also says not to write "Mr" but you would in transcribing (I guess if you needed it you could write it in shorthand). 

  3. Exactly Danger. Pen stenography is accessible to anyone with pen, paper, and some time.

    I was curious about machine stenography, but had no idea where to go or what to do to explore it more. I've never heard of a machine stenographer hobbyist, since you certainly can't carry a stenotype to the park or write with it in bed, and it'd be impractical to use it for writing down a recipe or school notes. And unless I'm mistaken, don't machine stenographers need a computer to transcribe for them?

    But I guess we're all a little biased here… 😉

  4. I can tell you how I've been using the shorthand books in court
    reporting for the last 20 years. The first column is the question; the
    second column starts the answer; the third column is for objections by
    opposing counsel, if any; and the center column is reserved for the
    judge. In oral argument or closing arguments, I start the first column
    for the moving counsel with his initial at the beginning. The opposing
    counsel is in the second column with his initial. The third column is
    still for the judge to make his ruling. Don't know if this is "right"
    or "wrong," but it works for me.

    Surely there are more than 100 pen writers in court reporting. I think
    we have at least 75 or 80 in Mississippi alone. However, the steno
    machine with real time writing is what some attorneys would really like
    to see. Thank goodness there are a good many attorneys in the court
    system where I work who appreciate the art of a pen writer and
    appreciate that it doesn't take long for a pen writer to get set up for
    trials or hearings.


  5. About the lines in the notebook, this is what is recommended by Charles Swem, though I've seen deviations at high speeds! For testimony dictation, questions from the examining attorney are written from the edge of the notebook (first column), the opposing attorney's questions/comments starting on the first vertical line (second column), the witness answers starting on the second vertical line (third column), and the judge's (or court) ruling on the last vertical line (before the middle line), on the fourth column. The witness answers can be written on the same line as the question, if there is enough space. For jury charge, you write like you normally do, disregarding the additional vertical lines.

  6. That picture is rad.

    But you see her attitude toward her art in comparison to the stenotype machine. The only reason she still Greggs everything is that she figured she was too old when they started teaching machine around her area. Gotta admit, those machines do make a transcript much faster! 🙂

    But when it comes to comparing the two systems, I tell people about the price difference between a stenotype outfit and a pen and paper: a difference of about eight thousand dollars!


  7. I know this is turning into an I-love-shorthand thread, but I just have to say how sad I am that so many people make fun of shorthand by calling it an "obsolete" or "useless" skill (on an online quiz, "Gregg shorthand" is one of the possible outcomes for "Which obsolete skill are you?"). Ever since I learned it, I've used it every single day. Today, I used it to write down instructions to beat a hard part of a video game, and fast enough to get back into the game in a matter of one or two minutes.

    It's a shame that so much misinformation is out there about shorthand… I've heard everything from "you have to transcribe it a few hours after or you can't read it" to "you're not even writing anything, just scribbling" (my partner in particular).

    I think pen court reporters have a great advantage… their skill can extend easily beyond work, so long as there's a writing tool and a scrap of paper lying around 🙂 Thanks to John again for starting this group… otherwise, I would never have gone down the shorthand road.

  8. Just a curiosity question here–where would one buy a steno pad with columns today? All I've ever seen have just the standard two columns.

    As an aside, a very good friend's wife has been the court reporting instructor at Chattanooga State Comm College here for years. Probably because of the local machine shorthand program, there are no penwriters left here locally, but she had worked with the last one when she was a student.

    My friend's wife said that the reporter worked with a large pad of paper and big outlines. I didn't get the size, but it sounded like 17×22 or bigger. Has anyone heard other, similar stories of this style of writing?

  9. I buy my steno pads with columns (RG-63) from a court reporter supply
    company called Pengad (

    Unfortunately this last batch of four dozen pads that I just purchased
    does not have the pages numbered. Hate that because I keep an index of
    the witness' direct, cross, redirect examination by the numbers on the
    pad. When I asked the customer service representative why the pages
    were not numbered, she told me that these pads are not a big ticket item
    anymore and it was not cost effective to number the pages. Thank
    goodness for Bates stamper. My 17-year-old volunteered (for a small
    nominal fee – gas money) to number the pages for me.


  10. Wait, Lindsay, do I understand that Gregg reporting is your primary job function?  I wonder if there are other secret reporters gracing our presence!   All hail Lindsay, the professional penstenographer!     ___________________________________ Praise the Lord, I saw the light line!

  11. Yes, JohnSapp, Gregg court reporting is my primary job function, and I
    love it. I prepare my own transcripts rather than dictate for a
    typist. In my state we are required to use a backup tape recorder.
    When I get bogged down with court time or transcripts, I have a friend
    who will take the backup tape and my notes and type for me. She is a
    Gregg writer who can read most of my notes, if I give her a key to any
    special forms I used in that particular case.

    Realtime steno is a big thing in the court systems now. We have maybe
    70 or 80 penwriters in our state organization, but, unfortunately, when
    we have our continuing educational workshops, Gregg shorthand workshops
    are not offered anymore. All the workshops are for steno machines. It
    was rumored at one time that the state was going to require all official
    reporters to be steno writers. There are some steno reporters who are
    penwriters. To protect my job I may have to be one, too.

    I'm sure there are other penwriters here who use Gregg everyday in their


  12. Hi Andrew. I live in Greenville. I took shorthand (DJ) in high school
    and college, started working in law offices, moved to taking
    depositions, then became an official reporter in the circuit court where
    I am now. There are four other pen writers in this area doing
    depositions. There is another official in the chancery court downstairs
    at the courthouse where I am who is a Gregg writer. There is another
    official in chancery court in Indianola who is a Gregg writer. There is
    another official in the county court in Greenwood who is a Gregg writer.

    There are Gregg writers still around.

    Really like DJ but over the years have incorporated other systems and
    have some of my own brief forms. If I add anything new in a particular
    case, such as a forensic term, attorney's name, company name, et
    cetera, I make sure there is a key at the beginning or end of my notes.

    Where do you live? Your web site is wonderful.

    V Lindsay

  13. Just out of curiosity… how do you guys all use shorthand for work? I'm a piano accompanist, so I use it to mark special performance notes, or where I'm to play something differently from how it's written, as well as for my calendar 🙂 When I become a translator, I plan on drafting in it.

  14. I happen to be a legal secretary, but I don't typically use my shorthand to it's full advantage.  I take messages and make notes as well as draft some correspondence.  Unfortunately, I haven't had a position where the shorthand was an integral part of the job since 1984.  These days, at least in the law firm biz, the associates all draft their documents on the computers and don't hand them off to us until we need to insert table of contents, table of authorities, and format the document for the jurisdiction it's to be filed/served in.    I encourage my attorneys to dictate to me whenever possible.  I think they are a bit intimidated to have to think on their feet and have an audience while doing it.  Typically when folks see my notes, they ask "what is that?"  "Is it English?"    Peter

  15. For work, I mostly use it for phone messages or notes.  Sometimes for meetings, but not much.  I actually started it again a few years ago because I wanted to use it for meeting notes (I like to have a lot of material to work from in typing up minutes, especially with the boss I had then) and after that job, I just decided I liked writing it.   Peter, that's like comments I've recieved…  "I didn't know anyone still did shorthand." (link).  One lady, just recently, thought it was strange that I was going to read shorthand on my lunch break (I thought she was kind of rude, but maybe I was just a bit sensitive that day). Debbi

  16. Debbi,
    Yesterday I went to IHOP for breakfast and was reading Unit 13 in Speed Studies while waiting for my food. The waitress asked me in awe if that was another language. I pleasantly told her it was shorthand, a method of writing quickly. She's probably mid-20's and had never heard of shorthand. We do face a brave new world!

  17. Debbi,   I had another gratifying incident on the train home the other night.  I was reading one of my shorthand books.  At one point, a couple of folks near me asked me what it was I was reading.  I explained to them that it was shorthand, read them a little of what I was reading and explained how it was constructed.  They were very interested and fascinated by it.  They had never heard of shorthand before.  I gave them the address angelfishy and sent them on their way.    Public education, one train ride at a time.  🙂   Peter

  18. You may also want to print out the gregg group cards.pdf that John made on here.  They are business size (I believe) and youc arry them with you.  When someone is interested they get directed here where they can read up and learn about shorthand and have a link to other sites. Debbi

  19. My two cents… I always wrote in shorthand when I was studying at the University, my friends noticed it from the first day of classes, so it was nothing new for them. When we had to prepare our final report for getting the degree (seminario in Spanish), we added up a new classmate to complete the required number of students: five. Once, this guy was looking at my writing and asked me:   – What's that? – It's shorthand… it's a system for writing faster… – Has this given to you better work possition or higher earnings?
    – No – I replied – Ah! OK   So, he was interested in studying shorthand ONLY if this would give to him more money or a better job.   He didn't ask me if I get a personal satisfaction writing this way… well, I do do.   V짧L쨘

  20. That would be a good answer, Richard; and you're right: he has some troubles in his mind. The rest of us agreed he's schizophrenic: he sees weird things and lies a lot.   Anyway, taking notes at the university always let in my mind the images of the words, so I could recall them easily and got the idea of some issues asked in a test.   Let shorthand live forever!     vALo

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