Gregg Simplified, Gregg Simplified Functional Method and Gregg Simplified for Colleges – which to start with?

Hi.  My name is Susan.  I am retired and currently living in central North Carolina, but spent most of my life in New England.   I have always wanted to learn Gregg Shorthand and now that I am retired and have the time, I’m anxious to get started.

Thanks to this blog, I have learned a lot about the various versions of Gregg Shorthand.   I “think” I have settled on learning Simplified (although… Anniversary is calling to me also 🙂  )

I have purchased used books on Amazon including Anniversary and the 3 variations of Simplified:  the Simplified text that McGraw Hill is currently selling,  the 1st edition of Simplified: Functional Method (the light blue cover)(I had already ordered before I realized that there was a 2nd edition),  and the 2nd edition (both volumes) of Simplified for Colleges.

From what I have read here, it appears that Simplified starts with learning the alphabet and writing right away whereas Functional starts with reading and only starts with writing well into the book.   My guess is that the 2 College Simplified volumes follow the same path as Simplified.

I have not yet received the books.  I expect them later this week or early next week.

What are the pros and cons of Simplified vs Simplified Functional?    And would the Simplified College volumes be better than Simplified because they contain more general and less business oriented material?

Is the Simplified in the 1st edition of Simplified: Functional very different from the 2nd editions of Simplified in the College volumes?

Is there any merit to doing all 3 simultaneously?   i.e. Do Lesson 1 in each of the 3 books… then Lesson 2 in each book?

I’m glad that found this blog.  It is a wealth of information.  And fascinating reading…

I await your opinions…..

One last thing….. would I be better off starting with Anniversary and forgetting Simplified altogether?  Pros and cons?

I know that once I receive the books it will be easier to choose, but I’m anxious to get going and hope to decide on a good starting point.   Anniversary or Simplified?   If Simplified – standard Simplified, Simplified Functional or Simplified College ?

At my age, I have a limited time frame so I would like to choose my path wisely.   Obviously, I will only be using Gregg shorthand for personal use, but I do want to learn a “proper” version of Gregg Shorthand.  Only Anniversary and Simplified appeal to me…. I’m just wavering between the two and hope that you can help me decide.

Thank you !!!

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15 comments Add yours
  1. Great questions and welcome to the blog!

    Simplified Gregg is an excellent choice, because although some of the rules were simplified and made more consistent, it still retained many of the principles and abbreviations of the earlier series, so if in the future you want to supplement your writing with Anniversary (or jump to Anniversary), it shouldn't be a difficult thing to do.

    McGraw-Hill published two sets of manuals: one set for high school and another for college. The basic manual and functional method manuals were the high school books, each with the same content as Volume 1 of the college books. These books came in two editions (one in 1949 and another in the 50s).

    The functional method is a way of teaching shorthand that relies on learning by example, as opposed the the basic manual which formally presents a rule with the ensuing examples. With the functional method, rules were presented by examples (in fact, with the FM rules were meant to be loosely presented). Also, the amount of reading and practice material in the functional method books is somewhat larger, because students were not writing until lesson 21. Some students (and teachers) prefer learning by rules and start writing from day one, while others prefer learning by example. It's a personal choice. The lessons in both regular and FM manuals are identical, save for additional practice in the FM manuals.

    The practice material in the college books is slightly different, but not by much, as the reading selections were geared towards college students. However, the principles discussed in each lesson are exactly the same across both high school and college books. Like I mentioned before, Volume 1 is equivalent to the basic manual (first-semester). Volume 2 is the dictation course book (second-semester), equivalent to the high-school book Gregg Dictation.

    If I were you, I would study Simplified with the FM from the first edition, supplemented by the other manuals, since you have already acquired those books. The FM manual has a key at the end of the book so that helps you in transcribing. There is no difference in principles between the first and second edition of the Simplified books, although the practice material may be slightly different. The lessons correlate between the first and second editions, and between the high school and college books, so you could be reading from all books simultaneously.

    If you were to study Anniversary, the way to do it is by using the Gregg Shorthand Anniversary Functional Method books (two volumes), not with the regular manual that you acquired. Although the basic manual is good as a reference, it lacks practice material and the key.

    If you decide for Simplified, do not mix Anniversary with Simplified. Keep the Anniversary manual as a reference and study it once you have completed Simplified.

    Lastly, there is no proper series of Gregg. The alphabet is virtually unchanged between the series. The proper version is the one you write, :-). If you were to choose Simplified, and later decide to go to Anniversary, the learning curve should not be steep because you for the most part will only be learning additional abbreviation techniques that are not present in Simplified.

    I hope this information helps in your decision. Whatever you decide, let us know and do not hesitate to use the blog to post any questions that you may have. Good luck!

  2. Hi Susan,

    I'm glad you found this wonderful blog that Carlos runs. I can't begin to tell you what a wealth of information there is here and the level of knowledge of the people.

    I agree with Carlos with regards to choosing Simplified Functional Method. I initially began using the standard 2nd edition of the Gregg Simplified Manual not realizing that there was a whole other way of teaching Gregg (Functional Method). Everyone learns differently, but personally once I got my Functional Manual I knew this was my preferred way to learn shorthand. I am currently on Chapter 6, Assignment 31 and the way I like to begin each assignment is to read the theory for each assignment from the 2nd edition Functional Manual and then practice first with the text in the 1st edition of the FM. For some reason I find reading Charles Zoubek's shorthand much easier than Charles Rader.

    I do hope you'll frequent this blog as you begin your journey into the wonderful world of Gregg shorthand and I probably can speak for everyone to please ask all the questions you want. I personally have and have learned SO MUCH from everyone here.

  3. Thank you Carlos and Paul !!! You have given me good advice and much to think about. As soon as all of my books arrive, I will spread them out on the dining room table and compare and make a decision. I did not realize that all of the Simplified books that I bought were so similar. I still am glad that I bought them all to compare and have a choice.

    Carlos, I see what you mean about learning Simplified first and then later learning Anniversary. That makes sense. I'll keep my copy of Anniversary as a reference and if I later decide to learn Anniversary, I'll get the 2 volume Anniversary Functional Method set. I see that there are quite a few available at the moment at

    Once I have had a chance to compare my "new" books, I shall be back with lots of questions I'm sure.

    Paul – without having seen the books, my gut feeling is that I want to jump right in and start writing 🙂 But… that may change once I see the books.

    Carlos – thank you for providing this resource. It is wonderful !!!

    1. You're welcome! One of my goals is to motivate people to learn and write Gregg (whichever series), so I'm glad this blog is helping. Keep us posted. In addition to Amazon, eBay and Abebooks are great sources of Gregg books.

    2. Also, Susan, I was wondering if there was a reason for you not learning Gregg while attending high school or college. Was it a lack of time, or that Gregg wasn't offered as a subject?

    3. I was the same way when I opened up my books for the first time. I wanted to start writing it right away. But, shorthand is mainly a mental skill and less of a motor skill. If you can read shorthand effortlessly then the hand will naturally follow.

      Hope that made sense – LOL.

  4. Carlos,

    When I started high school (9th grade) in September 1959, there were 2 tracks for students – college or business/secretarial/trade. I believe they did teach Gregg Shorthand in the business/secretarial group of classes, but not for those of us in the college track. They did offer us a half-year "Personal Typing" class which I am so glad that I chose to take. I needed it to be able to type term papers in college on my manual typewriter 🙂

    I regret that I did not take the shorthand classes, but I honestly don't remember if that would have even been an option for someone in the college track. We had some choice as to classes (i.e. we could choose to take either French or Spanish), but I don't know if that would have included taking shorthand.

    I do know that taking shorthand classes would have been hugely beneficial – for taking notes in college classes, for taking notes in business meetings later on and for all kinds of personal uses.

    But 1959 was a different world.

  5. At least your high school offered Gregg shorthand – LOL.

    My high school only offered Speed Writing (which I took a full year of). I took that in my senior year (both semesters in 1988) but the class never got far enough to the point of doing actual dictation. I do remember that it utilized a few devices from Gregg, but otherwise it only used the standard letters of the alphabet. Looking back on that system I don't see how anyone would have been able to attain any "useful" speed… but that was so long ago hahaha!

    1. Hi Cricket… Long time no hear. Hope all is well with you. 🙂

      I suppose if you could write 100 wpm that it would be good enough for light office dictation or for personal note taking.

  6. Hi Susan,

    Welcome to the group. My bit of advice is, once you choose a system, don't keep changing. I've flipped a few times, and within a few weeks always find something that the other one did better.

    If you go with Simplified, there are dictation files for Gregg Simplified Functional Edition 2 at slow speeds. I think this is the right link…

    Read the "Notes on Sound Files" and "Passage Index" before starting. I'm willing to convert more passages, but someone else will have to do the typing.

    Anni has much more reading material online.


  7. Cricket – Thank you for the warm welcome. And I have bookmarked the link. That looks fantastic !!! I shall jump into those files as soon as I get started.

    I agree with you that picking one method and sticking with it is the way to go. I should receive one or more of my books over the next 3 days. They were all mailed Monday and Tuesday.

    Paul – I'm guessing that my high school class and the ones over the next several years were the last to be offered shorthand courses. It's a shame. What an incredibly useful skill to have throughout life.

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