Shorthand While Sitting in Church Pew

I’m just getting started back into practicing shorthand, after 40 or so years of non-use. My main purpose is to take notes on sermons as I sit in church. Hence, I have no desk to write on and have to juggle the steno pad on top of one or two hymnals. This is very distracting and really hinders my speed and legibility.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a way to overcome this “juggling” problem?

(by toupalumma for everyone)

11 comments Add yours
  1. I put one of the books on the pew beside me and use the larger one to write on, on my knee.   And Chuck's right. I use the 4×8 reporter's books — they are much easier to use on your knee in church than the 6×8 steno books.   I never transcribe the notes on sermons — I just like to make them. I've got three reporter's books going back four years.   Good luck.   sidhe

  2. Thank you all for your suggestions. I wasn't aware of the reporters' notebooks. I'll look into that.   I'm curious about the clipboard idea. Do you clip the steno pad (or reporters' notebook) under the big clip? If so, how do you quickly turn pages?   Cheryl Kansas City

  3. I always just set the pad on my right thigh. Since I move the page as I write on it, the somewhat cramped space is just fine 🙂

    I hope you're using the pages consecutively, and not flipping the pad over to go "front back front back" to use both sides of a page as you write! If you clip the pad to the clipboard and turn the pages the better way ("front, front, front"), there shouldn't be a problem. When you get to the end, you can just flip the pad over and go through it again 🙂

  4. I carry a small clipboard. It's 6×9 inches, so it holds 1/2 size sheets (North American, that is).

    I think I got it from Daytimers ages ago. I just checked Business Depot's site; $5 for board with clip, $30ish for aluminum one that protects "forms". Daytimer site doesn't carry them. I'm sure they're still around, though.



  5. Now, I'm assuming with all this paper juggling and note-taking, you ARE paying attention to the sermon, right?   Gregg himself as a child was inspired to learn shorthand by seeing an old family friend take sermon notes in shorthand in the village church.  There's just no telling who you may be inspiring!   Alex

  6. Yes, I'm paying attention to the sermon. Actually, taking notes in shorthand helps me pay better attention than if I just sit and listen. My mind wanders too much, if I'm not taking notes.   Thanks for being concerned about my spiritual welfare.   Cheryl Kansas City

  7. From "The Story of Gregg Shorthand":   "To begin at the very beginning, my father had a friend named Annesley, who was one of the early exponents of Pitman's Phonography.  This friend came to visit my father in Rockcorry, the little country village in the north of Ireland where we lived, and went to church with my father on Sunday morning.  Being a shorthand enthusiast, he took his notebook with him and began to take notes of the sermon.  In that little village a stranger was always a source of interest and curiosity, and when Mr. Annesley began to take notes, you can imagine how the attention of the congregation was focused upon him.   I do not suppose that anyone in the congregation had ever seen a shorthand reporter before.  The young clergyman became exceedingly embarrassed and almost broke down in his sermon.  When the services were over, the young clergyman rushed down the lawn in front of the church and begged Mr. Annesley not to publish the sermon because he had taken it from some famous preacher of that time.   The event made such a great impression on my father that he insisted upon all five of his children learning shorthand.  For this reason, in tracing the factors that led to my taking up shorthand, I think the story should properly date from the reporting of the sermon in that little country village by my father's friend, Mr. Annesley."   –John Rober Gregg __________   So not only might you awaken interest, you might cause some serious consternation . . .   Alex  

  8. I find for specific things like lectures and doctors' visits, I need to take notes. I'm more comfortable making minutes of meetings if I take notes (but recently didn't, and did a creditable set of minutes anyways).

    For live performances, though, including the sermons I've heard (as opposed to lectures), I prefer to enjoy them in the moment.

    I used to be the one videotaping the kids' shows and wanting to catch every detail. I ended up tense and unhappy at the end. Making notes gives me a pile of notes to clutter my shelf and feel guilty about not reading over, and I don't actually think about what was said. There might be a message that's exactly what I need at that moment, but I'm too busy recording it to actually hear it.

    As a storyteller, I prefer that you listen and enjoy the moment. If you want a copy of the story, talk to me later; I'll be thrilled, and when you're ready to tell it, I'll want to hear your interpretation.

    Many churches now publish their sermons online. It's a great idea. It keeps the website fresh and current; you can read them if you couldn't go that day, or didn't quite hear it, or if you want to review it.


  9. Try the 5,000 most used forms pdf at (you could print it out if you need a hard copy or order it from Abliris ). It gives most of the outlines needed for writing. For the exceptions you could just learn the basic strokes and improvise. There's also a dictionary that has more word forms.

    I recommend reading through the Anniversary book (available on the site). And looking up outlines as you need them.

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