Eclectic Shorthand?

Has anyone successfully learned Cross Eclectic to any degree of proficiency? You can find the whole manual on Google Books.

I’m fascinated by the concision and position system, but I’ve been unable to do the shading required for initial H and final R, and when I look through the word lists, I see words like “usually” and “branded” or something that look almost identical. It seems to require almost godly perfect penmanship, with subtle differences of a millimeter in the middle of a curve changing the whole word. In the alphabet list, there are some letters where I can’t see the difference at all between them.

What are other peoples’ impressions on this system?

(by Erik for everyone)

One comment Add yours
  1. Hi! Your post prompted me to resurrect my forum membership! Cross Eclectic theory changed and developed through its 25 years of publication. The final version was copyrighted for 1903. The 1903 textbook is available as pdf download at

    Here's the link

    The earlier editions of the textbook are available as well at (1891 ed.) (1st ed. 1878)

    The 1891 edition of the textbook can also be supplemented by a book on phrasing, and a dictionary as far as I can recall. These are again available on as well. (pub. 1892)

    And a dictionary (pub. 1894)

    The final 1903 textbook really does contain everything you need to learn it. I think this textbook is truly excellent and is very thorough and clear. It includes loads of exercises, and, as said, contains everything you need to learn it.

    I did learn the bulk of the the 1903 theory – though I've forgotten most of it now – and found that the system really does hang together very well. It is brief and clear BUT the standard of penmanship required is very high if one is to be clear and legible (especially if reading after some time after one has made one's notes.

    The standard of penmanship was too high for me, but I did enjoy learning so much of the theory. Cross's system is ingenious and his textbooks are beautiful. He is extremely good at communicating his theory in my judgement.

    The theory does use shortening and lengthening as modifications as well as shading, position, and distorting characters (for example making the 'S' take 'W' for 'SW' by deepening the curve to add the 'W'). Thus penmanship has to be really good to keep the distinctions.

    Kind regards

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