Progress Report?

I’m just curious if there are any people that are either studying, reviewing, or maybe struggling with the basic manual, no matter which series. If anyone wants to share which lesson are you right now, what has been your progress, or what is keeping you from finishing the book, I would welcome that information as well.

If you’re done with the basic manual, but are either studying a different shorthand book, or just reading the material we post here, chime in as well!

47 comments Add yours
  1. Hi there,

    I am studying Simplified and I am in the process of working through Lesson 12. I just ordered the Functional Method book the other day and waiting for that to arrive. I'm going to see if using the functional method will be easier for me… Or perhaps I'll just use the functional book for the additional material.

  2. I started back in 1983. If the secretarial classes could learn shorthand in a year, surely I, an aspiring engineer, could learn it over March Break. (Yep, engineers are arrogant.)

    The school library had Forkner, Pitman, and Gregg (DJS). I did a few chapters in all of them, but settled on Forkner because it was easier to read back and felt much like comfortable longhand, although it needs more lines than the others. The books never mentioned writing quickly, so I copied the examples slowly, never breaking 40wm.

    I also tried Teeline, and did break the 40wpm mark because the book gave time goals. The list of "arbitrary decisions" annoyed me, so I quit it. A list of words that could have the same outline, but could be confused, so they arbitrarily chose one.

    Back to Pitman, only to confirm I didn't like the feel and the line thickness was a problem. Pitman's death knell was a similar list.

    I finally settled on Gregg when I joined this group. I made good progress with Anni until half-way through the book when things got tough. Insert break for the dictation program. Now I've settled on Simplified and plan to stay there until I finish the theory and reach 80wpm. I'm 1/3 done the book — about 1/2 done the theory. I push each passage to 60wpm, which is fast for this stage of the book, but since I'd reached 60 in Anni I didn't want to drop.

    My biggest challenge is time. I have a gazillion other projects on the go, and most of them are for other people, so shorthand is the first thing I drop. When I have time to work at it, I happily use it for notes, but when I drop it for a few weeks I revert to longhand. I also need to work at reading my notes. All too often, I look at the page a month later and have to work at it. It's hard to use something I don't trust.

  3. I switched from Simplified to Anniversary late in 2004 and did a few lessons before having multiple life interruptions. In 2006 I memorized all the brief forms, and worked through the Anniversary Manual. When I tried to outline the book I had difficulty, and I later found that the 1916 manual was better organized (which I first obtained from the angelfishy website) and it isn't much different from the 1929 manual–especially when you consider the understanding that you are to use your own judgment when abbreviating. (My adoptive mom, who learned Anniversary in the '40s, always said that each person's shorthand was individualized and couldn't be read by anyone else.) In 2007 I got through the 1916 Pre-anniversary manual. I just read and copied the examples. I didn't memorize or drill or do in-depth study. I also read through the 1930 Ed. of Graded Readings and the Functional Man. Vol. 1 and most of Vol.2. I would also take notes at Wednesday night church and frequently use the cd from Sunday morning for dictation, looking up words I didn't know in the dictionary or manual. In 2007 I also started the 1923 edition of Taquigrafía Gregg which is comparable to the 1916 manual. I made a vocabulary list from the text for the entire book (not the shorthand readings), but without a key/ or transcript it's very time-consuming to do the readings, and I didn't get much past chapter one or two.

    I have taken intermissions in my study of shorthand. Last year I went through the 1916 manual again writing all examples, and rules, but again no in-depth study over time. This past summer I began again. I reviewed the chapters on word beginnings and endings. Then I made a list of all phrases in the Anniversary manual. I made a list of all brief forms from both editions noting the differences, and I made a recording so that I can take them from dictation. Not long after, I found the advice in the Reporting Shortcuts ebook to thoroughly learn the brief forms (60 wpm) and frequently used contractions and to study the derivatives chart in the 1917 Speed Studies book as a preparation for advanced study. So I made a contractions list and now I'm working on the Brief forms derivatives in Speed Studies 1917. I haven't been taking dictation from audio so much lately, but I have an inspirational book that I have been using to translate into shorthand. First I write a paragraph or two, and then I check my work and look up any words or phrases that I'm unsure of. Then I rewrite it. I was writing certain portions of the Bible, but haven't done it the last few weeks. I also have some more plans for learning all the "rules," and choosing which ones I like best.

    I finally got my transcript for the Taquigrafia 1923 a week or two ago, so I plan to study that book and do a Spanish review, maybe in conjunction with the 1916 manual. Many words that mean the same thing are written the same way in both languages. I have done some copying from the Spanish Bible and would like to resume that activity.

  4. I started and stuck with Anniversary only because I didn't know there were other versions. Besides, I was using Mom's old books. Somewhere along the line, I acquired the 1916 manual, some of the court-reporting texts, and Anniversary "Expert Speedbuilding" and adopted some of those forms into my writing. Thank goodness for used book stores!

    I peaked at 150 w.p.m. in the 1980s while working for McGraw-Hill. But from lack of use and change of career paths, I lost my speed and started back on the long road to rapid writing at the beginning of this summer. I was writing a very questionable 80 at the time.

    I tend to get inspired to build speed every so often; this last time it was through one of our members who happens to live locally, Bruce Ford. We met and had dinner. I went home and found myself working backwards in speed tapes until I found something I could write and read back. It was embarrassing.

    You'll all be glad to know I practice what I preach on my site and continue to review theory daily. Some gentle pushing when it comes to the speed of dictation has also helped. I'm currently back in the 120-130 range on standard business material.

    I believe it was Swem who spoke of "the plastic stages of youth" describing the relative ease of speed development for someone under 25. Unfortuantely, I'm more than double that age now and this has been an exhausting uphill climb. The goal is at least 150 but I can hear 200 calling–if I live long enough and don't get side-tracked (as usual).


  5. That is pretty interesting. When I first thought about teaching myself shorthand I only knew of Simplified and didn't know there were other versions of Gregg (let alone complete other systems ie. Pitman). I remember seeing the Simplified book in a bookstore back in the 80's and thought it would be fun and neat to learn it. I think I only got through the first lesson and gave up (maybe because I was so young back then). But now as an adult with a lot more focus and drive I'm finding learning Simplified so much fun.

  6. I found this book in our school library about shorthand, which was unusual for an elementary school (I was 9). Then when I went to high school (around 12) I remembered that book and decided to Google 'shorthand'. Brought me to Andrew's site. I downloaded the manual, because it was the only one there.

    I've been studying Anni on-and-off for the past 4 years. I haven't really been focusing on it with lots of school stuff to do. In fact, I haven't gotten far past 80wpm after 4 years. But I still get to impress my friends every time. 😀

  7. This is rather long, and I'll have to post it in two parts. Gregg shorthand has literally changed my life, and I have the zeal of the convert. So here goes . . .

    My dream of writing shorthand started in 5th grade. I was so frustrated at how slow longhand writing is, and I told my dad about it. He told me, "Then you should learn shorthand." Shorthand? He explained that if you're really proficient at it "you can write as fast as you can talk." And I remember thinking, "I've GOT to learn that!!!"

    Sometime around my HS freshman year I was perusing a book store and noticed the Gregg Simplified manual. It looked too complicated, so grabbed this book called "Alphabet Shorthand" by one Adolph Gerstenzang. Bad call. I eventually went through all the lessons and found it completely useless.

    When I started at the local community college in '87, they had two Gregg courses, but the class times conflicted with my work schedule. Just as well–I wouldn't have wanted to be saddled with Series 90. 😮

    So the dream had pretty well died.

    Then in 2005 my wife and I were wandering around our favorite used book store. I had previously noticed a whole shelf devoted to shorthand books. I finally decided to check through it. They had a lot of Pitman books there. I leafed through them and was filled with terror–it looked like a train wreck. But the Gregg outlines were fascinating–beautiful, curvy, with a "coherent" look. And the old dream started to surface again.

    I didn't know anything about the different series. I grabbed a few DJS books (because they were there) and went home. Then I checked the Web and immediately landed on Andrew Owen's site. (Home base!) After I read his explanations of the different series, I knew right away I wanted to learn Anniversary, and Pre-anni to boot! I lost no time getting back to the bookstore.

    And I hit the jackpot! They had all the manuals going back to 1902. Progressive Exercises, the Functional Method books and the rare Teacher's Handbook, Speed Studies, Fundamental Drills, Graded Readings (and the keys to all three!) the phrase book, and many others. I'll never get that lucky again.

    I joined this list through the link at Andrew's site, and that was a crucial move. I didn't post until 2010, but it was necessary–the questions I had (and quite a few I didn't know to ask) had already been answered. Check the early threads!

    So in 2005 I started in and Anniversary Manual with the Functional Method. Thank heavens for the FM–I most assuredly WOULD NOT have succeeded without it. I went through it in about five or six months, and felt so overwhelmed when it was over I had to set it aside.

    The same thing happened in 2006. And in 2007 (this time without the FM.) Each time through was easier than before, but I was still on the low end of the curve.

    Moving twice in 2008 halted my studies until early 2010. This time I went for broke. The Anni Manual, the Functional Method, 5,000 Most-Used Forms, Fundamental Drills, Graded Readings, and Speed Studies (2nd Ed.). I even used one of the Gregg novels to fall asleep with. And I wasn't about to hurry it–steady as she goes, learn each unit thoroughly.

    This round took nearly a year–and I finally "got it." And WOW!!! I realized early that more the materials to work from the better, so I've been gathering all I can find in the meantime. And all throughout, this group was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement.

    1. Part II:

      NOW, for the report on my first real world test. In January of this year I started back in college to finally get a degree. I started with three law courses including "Legal Research and Writing" and "Civil Litigation I"–the latter an intensive Friday night and all day Saturday four weekends. And these weren't "light" courses!

      I'm not against modern technology. Along with a steno pad I brought along my digital recorder. But after the third or fourth class I left it home, as I realized that I had no need for it! I was writing everything out that I needed to! It just flowed out and all my notes were perfectly legible. I found it unnecessary to transcribe anything; I could read it all with ease. (OK Chuck, you win on that one.)

      My professors found it amusing as I referred to "The Law Stenographer" and "The Legal Secretary" for frequently recurring terms. But in the classroom it was clear I had this huge edge. The professor would ask a question on a point he had taught an hour before, several hands would go up with all the wrong answers, and I just checked a few pages back and read it verbatim, to the professor's great satisfaction.

      Bottom line: I aced all my classes handily. No assignments or tests lower than an "A." In fact, I was the top guy in each. (After the final exam, my litigation professor called me around to his desk and raised my hand in the air as though I had won a boxing match.)

      I was always a competent student, able to pull an "A" if I tried hard enough, but this was ridiculous. I didn't even have to try. It was like running downhill. It felt literally effortless, nay, quite enjoyable!

      What a revolution from how it was before! Struggling to write everything out while keeping up with the professor lest I miss a subsequent point–and sometimes having to let important points drop altogether. No longer! It's almost a joke now. I look forward to each semester, with a confidence I never before experienced or even dreamed of. And I should have my first degree by the end of next year.

      So, a big thanks to Andrew and Chuck and all of my colleagues in this group. And Three Cheers for the man who will own half of my future diploma–Dr. John Robert Gregg! 😀

    2. That was very motivating to read. I hope one day I can be confident like that. I know I still have a very LONG way to go. But reading your experience really gives me hope. Thanks for sharing your story.

    3. I think it used to be much more common for law students to learn a shorthand. I remember about 25 years ago I met with an assistant DA in regard to a case she was prosecuting. I noticed that she made her notes of our conversation in shorthand. It would obviously be so helpful for taking notes while in court, but I doubt if many people are learning it now–at least not in the US.

  8. I started out Simplified fairly regularly, reading through the lessons in all of the manuals I have (Functional 1st&2nd ed., regular 1st&2nd ed., UK manual 1st ed., college 1st&end ed., graded drills, most used words), a lesson at a time in sync. Focussing only on reading so far; I haven't done shape drills, let alone tried a time goal on writing.

    I got to lesson 9, and after that could read the written material so far reasonably well.

    Then I succumbed to… what's it called? "Fingers in too many pies"?

    At any rate, I had lots of interests and there was no daily time for shorthand any more.

    I've not officially abandoned it and intend to take up the study again some day (presumably starting again at lesson 1), when I can make some time in my schedule to ensure that I'll have half an hour every evening or so to devote to it regularly.

    I now also have Graded Transcribing Tests which I've added to my reading arsenal.

    My currently tentative plan is to go through the lessons and learn to read Gregg shorthand fluently (ideally, as quickly as longhand), then go back to the beginning and practise writing. No date set for when to resume study yet, though.

    1. Reading well-written shorthand from plates is more important than actual writing because when you get exposed to all sorts of words, you won't have the "how-the-heck-do-I-write-that-word" question when it's time to write, therefore avoiding hesitation and a mental lapse. So if you cannot write for whatever reason, at least try to read something in shorthand.

      When you're ready to start writing, the Workbook for Gregg Shorthand Simplified is good practice.

    2. I'm still waiting for my 2nd Edition FM manual to arrive, but in the meantime I've been working through the 1st Edition manual and since I've been just solely reading shorthand and not writing it for the past few weeks now I'm amazing myself all the time at how fast I'm getting at reading it. As I read each section I trace the outline with my finger on the table or page or whatever at the same speed at which I'm reading it. This is fun.

      I've also had two dreams about shorthand already.

    3. LOL – no, they weren't nightmares. It was quite strange really. All I remember were random words appearing in my dream and I would apply what I know so far in theory in order to write the words.

    1. I would have put it slightly differently: he went FORWARD and became a court reporter? 😉

      Mr. Dupraw learned shorthand in high school, and excelled to such a high degree that the Gregg Co. sponsored him. Then in 1924 he took a six-month leave of absence from college at the request of the Democratic National Committee to travel the country reporting the speeches of their presidential candidate John W. Davis (who lost to Mr. Coolidge.)

      He later graduated from law school, but by then the Great Depression was in full swing. His family went broke. So instead of entering the law profession, he became a court reporter in order to bring in a guaranteed income.

      Mr. Dupraw related this in his interview with the NYT at age 90:

      If I recall, you met the great man in person right?

    2. Yes, I did meet him. He was quite a ball of fire despite being in his 80s!

      I have heard of other lawyers who took the same path as Mr. Dupraw but believe it's pretty rare. Going in the other direction–from reporter to lawyer–happens a bit more often I believe.

  9. In January of this year I started working on Simplified in earnest (I'd made a couple of quick stabs at it earlier.) It took about 8 months to get through the last of the instructional material in lesson 53. Since that time I've been meaning to finish up the lessons but haven't made any progress. After I do, I plan to start work on improving accuracy and then speed.

    I do use it almost daily, from notes at work to shopping lists and anything else I can find an excuse for (unless someone else needs to read it…) I love the way it feels to form the outlines and I love the way it looks. I just hate that I still feel awkward at spelling and that I haven't yet internalized all the rules.

    My eventual goal is to use it for writing first drafts of various fictional material that I do for fun. I've thought about starting off by copying my typed drafts into shorthand. At the moment I'm way too slow and second-guess myself too much to use it for any kind of creative work.

  10. I'm learning DJS and am 4 lessons away from completing the textbook, Volume I. I spend 30 minutes to an hour each night; I started last June, so I guess that's about 8 months.

    I bought Volume II on Amazon and am looking forward to cracking it open. Some days it's difficult to stay motivated, but so far I'm pleased with my progress!

    1. Excellent! Volume 2 is the dictation book. Before you start it, it would be a good idea to find out your current writing speed, so that you can monitor your progress. A one minute passage of previewed material would be fine to use as a measure.

    2. Thanks, Carlos. That is a great idea. Volume 2 looks like it's just a lot of reinforcement. It's like the last unit in Volume 1 where it's all reading and then you write it out afterwards. How should I approach that? Record myself reading the transcription?

      I have been doing a little dictation by using some online resources. If the material is fairly easy, I'm about 40-50 wpm. When you start adding harder words that I have to "sound out", I get behind and have to pause the recording.

    3. Kevin, If you send me text files, can create mp3 files at multiple speeds using text-to-speech software. The quality is good enough for old material, but not for new. Samples are here:

      The later ones are what I make now. I'm slowly redoing the older ones. The cost is paying it forward by letting me put the recordings up.

      Anything under 40wpm takes too long. You can reach 50wpm by copying plates and your own notes. I usually copy from the plate, then from my own notes once or twice, then back to the plate. That way I see the correct outlines and what I'm really doing. Then I go to the dictation files. I'm still at 60wpm and only 1/2 through the theory, though. Shorthand is the first thing I drop when life gets busy.

    4. Thanks for the advice, CricketB. (I tried to access your sample, but I need your permission to download it from Google Drive.)

      What software are you using? I tried to find some free text-to-speech software on the internet that would allow you to set the wpm, but couldn't. What I've been doing is taking dictation files I find on the internet that are, say, 80 wpm and slowing them down by a percentage to get the wpm I need. (E.g. 100 wpm would be slowed by 50% to get 50 wpm, etc.)

      Other than that, I have made some recordings myself by using a dictation speed chart. It's time-consuming and hard to do. 🙁

    5. Hi Keven,

      You should get an email soon with your approved application for access.

      I use Cepstral for TTS, and a program I wrote myself (well, with my husband's help for the file-access bits) to calibrate and run multiple files at multiple speeds, all with the touch of a button. What Cepstral calls 80wpm isn't. I played with a few settings for the calibration curves.

      There are other TTS programs. Some are now better than Cepstral, but years ago I went with the one that emailed me back with good information when I asked about slow speeds.

      I had reasonable success recording my voice at close to 60wpm, then using Audacity. I calculated the total time at each speed, then Change Tempo to get the right length. Starting with 60wpm, it sounded reasonable at 40 through 90.

      It's possible to write a program to do all the math and call Audacity with the right options, but the coin flip said work on the TTS program. (Sure sign of having too much to do this week. I'm thinking of how to change program to take sound files instead of text and call Audacity instead of Cepstral.)

    6. Cricket… WOW! That is a lot of dictation material and is AWESOME! This will keep me busy for a long time. Thank you!

      I tried a lesson from chapter 18 (151) that was at 40 wpm, and it was a little too fast for me. 🙁 (Kind of discouraging, ha ha). I still have a lot of work to do.

    7. Glad you're enjoying them!

      Files under 40wpm are huge. You can pass 40wpm by copying the plates as described above, or even writing from a transcript. When I switched to dictation, I got a free 10wpm because I didn't have to look back and forth. Dictation not letting me slow down mid-take also helped. (I get a better workout on a treadmill than outside for the same reason.)

      Yeah, the first few times can be discouraging. There's lots of advice here for speed-building. Just don't sacrifice quality for speed. It's easier to add speed than it is to fix poor penmanship. The only exception is overclocking, when you crank it up to break a block, then do a few tidy passes back at your target speed to bring it all together.

    8. I'm jealous. It will be at least another month before I can work on shorthand or the dictation files again.

      If you find any mistakes in the dictation, please let me know. Also, read the notes in the folder. Some of them were made with a broken calibration curve. If they seem faster than the right speed, they are. I'm slowly checking and fixing the old ones.

  11. Hi all!
    I came across shorthand a long time ago when I was in high school. Basically, I wrote a lot, and had severe writers cramps. Unfortunately I couldn't learn Gregg at the time, but I did pick up Teeline for a short time. It wasn't fast or comfortable enough but it gave me an idea of what I wanted. Fast forward to within the last 2 years, when I began writing a daily journal in Gregg. I didn't study very much, but I knew some principles and I used them to make enough headway to where I am today, at 80wpm. My shorthand isn't fantastic but I'm finally good at reading it fast enough so that its fairly useful. I used it in my college history class to take verbatim notes. What a wonderful class that was. My journal is now much much too long and I don't keep it daily since I began college but I feel like I can go back and read it now. I'm on 14 of the functional method, and I really like the direct method too. In college, I used a mix of dictation software and shorthand to write papers. I studied PLOVER briefly (machine shorthand for the PC) but I don't feel that the keyboard is appropriate for that at all, so I quit.
    What's amazing is that I don't think I would be writing if it weren't for pen shorthand, so I am truly grateful for that.

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