Centennial and Series 90 Publications and course of study

I’m creating a new post since my question diverges considerably from the original topic (“How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain,” reading article, Sept 2016, post 2.a):

That “re-introduction of incl-”
..I might like to get my hands on some Centennial books to see
specifically what other surprises there might be though few. I wonder if
you or someone would be able to help me understand which books were put

From what I can tell searching online there are:

Gregg Shorthand College Book 1, 2, 3
Gregg Shorthand Dictation and Transcription
Gregg Shorthand Basic Principles

There does not appear to be a “functional method” for Centennial.

Also, I’ve been using Series 90 Functional Method which of course has a key and I would like to get either of:

“Gregg Speed Building Series 90”
“Gregg Shorthand for Colleges, Speed Building, Series 90”

assume they are an intermediate between the functional method or other
course text and “Gregg Expert Speed Building” (for S90) which I also
have (also no key, unfortunately). Do you know if either has a key?

I have “Shorthand for Colleges Vol 2, Series 90”,(no key). But I’m
wondering if the material here is possibly the same as what’s in the
functional method in which case I wouldn’t need to track one down.

for any help you can provide, as I know these are tedious questions!
I’m getting better at understanding the Gregg publications but not there

PS I assume we afford the keys to the texts the same
copyright protection (in terms of not posting them for download) as the

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  1. Six textbooks, six workbooks, and the abridged dictionary were published in the Centennial series (in addition to six teacher's editions of the six books). The College books 1, 2, and 3 correspond to the High School "Basic Principles", "Dictation and Transcription" and "Gregg Shorthand for the Administrative Assistant" books. The theory is exactly the same (even the pictures), but the shorthand in some very few cases may be slightly different. There is no functional method, because the theory book can be taught using either the rule (writing) or the functional method (reading) approaches. The books have a key in the back.

    About the differences, Centennial is very similar to S90 (in fact, the theory itself is S90), save for additional brief forms and the modification in some of them, and the change in the state abbreviation outlines to match the post office abbreviations (so, for example, California is written k-a). The incl- prefix is not presented as a word beginning per se, but it is used in the brief form "include" and its derivatives ("inclusion", etc.). For that reason, the words "inclement" and "incline" are written in full in Centennial, :-(.

    DJS, S90, and Centennial are very similar between the three. In fact, you can learn one series and have no difficulty in reading the others.

  2. More about Centennial. This thanks to Alex, who posted this a while ago.

    "I think the main changes for Centennial were the following: 1) The addition of these brief forms: anniversary, appropriate, between, circumstance, communicate, convenient/convenience, direct, during, electric, equip, equivalent, include, incorporate, insure/insurance, memorandum, office, privilege, product, program, property, recommend, reluctant/reluctance, significant/significance, statistic. (In most cases, these were re-introduction of older brief forms that had been dropped). 2) circum-, di-, electric-, and -gram are not taught in Centennial. 3) the principle de- is not introduced separately, but falls under "minor vowel omitted". 4) -graph is omitted."

    So there were some more differences even with S90. "Circum-" is only used for the brief form "circumstance" and its derivatives (so "circumvent" is written in full). "Electric" is not taught as a prefix, because since it is a brief form, any other words (or phrases) would fall under derivatives. The ending "-gram" written in full, and the word family "-graph", introduced in S90, does not exist anymore (it is written in full too). These are all minor differences that I'm not so sure would really improve either speed or learning.

  3. All Centennial books have a key in the back, but none of the S90 books that you mention do. The keys are provided in separate booklets. You will notice that once you know your theory very well, the key is practically useless, unless you want to practice dictation, since it contains the material subdivided into groups of 20. However, since those books are not that old (they are still copyright protected), you could probably get the keys using eBay or Amazon or any used-book online seller (Abebooks, B&N, Alibris, etc.), or by interlibrary loan.

    The four-semester book progression for S90 was the following:

    1. High School: GS Regular or FM Book S90, Gregg Dictation and Introductory Transcription S90, Gregg Transcription S90, and Gregg Speed Building S90.

    2. College: GS for Colleges Vol. 1 S90, GS for Colleges Vol. 2 S90, GS for Colleges: Transcription S90, and GS for Colleges: Speed Building S90.

    The presentation of the shorthand principles in the first high school and college books is the same (same lessons present the same principle), but the material is slightly different. The difference between the high school and college books comes in the subsequent books. In my opinion, the college books were better laid out, but it is really immaterial if you use the college or the high school version.

    As an aside, after the publication of these books, McGraw-Hill published a two-book new series called "Gregg Shorthand for the Electronic Office, Short Course S90", which is equivalent to the first two books. Since it is a shorter course, the theory book contained 60 lessons, as opposed to 80. I think these were the prettiest shorthand books ever published: the paper and the book cover are glossy, the text colors and the typography are very nice (the books fold vertically, as in a steno book), and the shorthand is written on lines (3/8" space) — Mr. Edelman did a beautiful job.

    Before going to the Speed Building books, you have to go to a second book (Gregg Dictation and Introductory Transcription S90 or GS for Colleges Vol. 2 S90) to reinforce and review the theory. This is very important. The College Vol. 2 S90 book that you already have is a fine choice.

    The Transcription book is not that important and can be skipped, unless you are going to be producing transcripts (like in an office setting). However, if you're looking for more practice and review material, this book has plenty.

    The Speed Building book assumes that you know that theory backwards and forwards, and that you can write at least 100 wpm.

    The Expert Speed book is a special book for those people who really want to go fast. It should not be studied before the Speed Building book is completed, because it assumes a minimum dictation speed of 120 wpm. The Expert Speed DJS and S90 books are exactly the same (same material and same lessons), save for the small outline changes related to S90.

    You can read more about the minimum speeds for each book in my answer to this post (it is about DJS, but it applies to S90 as well).

    This brings me to my last rant about Series 90. You have to be aware that Series 90 itself has a problem, and it is that to write fast, you need to supplement the theory with additional briefs and principles. As ShorthandMarc has mentioned before, from his experience when he worked at McGraw-Hill, they were receiving reports from teachers that students were hardly getting past 100 wpm, and that teachers were dumping S90 in favor of alphabetic systems. Were I a teacher, I would have supplemented the theory with additional brief forms and principles dropped from DJS and other series. As an FYI, DJS did not have that problem: I know people that can write 175 wpm using DJS! So your mileage may vary with S90.

    I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, just post them here.

  4. Thanks for the excellent comparison between Centennial and Series 90! One question… does the Centennial dictionary have the cut-and-paste outlines (with varying line thicknesses)? Just curious if the dictionary got the same treatment as the Centennial text. Thanks.

    1. The outlines in the Centennial edition (which was published as "Gregg Shorthand Dictionary, Abridged Version" for some reason) look cut-and-pasted to me, with variations of line thickness and outline size. The author is listed as Charles E. Zoubek, but there is no indication of anyone writing the outlines. There is also no explanation of what principles were used to abridge the text, nor is there mention of the number of outlines. The book is 152 pages in 3-column format, as compared to 408 pages of the Series 90 dictionary (also 3-column, but much more densely enpaginated).

  5. The comment Marc made on has website about the speed of S90, and that of Carlos above, have led me to wonder what the cause of this slowness is. After all, S90 is quite a bit like DJ–so much so that whole paragraphs can be identical in the two series. But S90 was published in the late 1970s, after the feminist movement had helped to open opportunities for academically sharp women who might have become secretaries in previous years. Might some of the problem have been the loss of many of the better students to other professions and thus to other classes in school?

    1. Yes, I think you're right. S90 and Centennial visually are pretty indistinguishable from DJS, and speed was already an issue by then. (First DJS text was published in 1963). Attempts to simplify beyond Simplified simply resulted in a system that was too slow to be practically useful in the business world . . . at the same time other career options were opening up for women, and other technologies were emerging to handle the traditional work of secretaries. That doesn't mean those new technologies were more efficient or successful than a secretary taking dictation, but it was a confluence of social trends, technology, and educational philosophy.

    2. I think the slowness has both a technical and a social component.

      From a technical perspective, DJS is slower, but was deemed adequate for business. The elimination of some of the blends in particular (forcing to write outlines with odd angles) decreases speed. S90 compounded the slowness by (1) removing even more brief forms, (2) assigning only one meaning to a brief form (so for example, d-r is only doctor, and not during, m-s is Ms, not must, etc.), (3) dropping more blends (m-m). Although these seem to be minor, as a collective (in combination with the retained changes from DJS) would naturally have an impact on speed.

      From a social perspective, the office environment, the educational system, and the quality of the student pursuing these careers changed. The office became more automated, other technologies emerged, the roles of the office personnel changed. The educational system became more dumbed-down, subjects such as English and Mathematics were not taught as rigorously as they were before, and this also affected the students, who were ill prepared to take business courses.

    3. I've wondered the same thing about the talent pool and climate of the times having to do with this. For instance, I think someone on this blog mentioned how he was the only male who would take the shorthand class in his high school (I might be remembering incorrectly but it might have been Marc).

      As for the other changes, the number of brief forms removed was very small (and in some instance they were not actually drops but substitutions, and a few forms were actually added). Also some of the words dropped were not exactly words most of us tend to write everyday..railroad, merchant, merchandise, and shall for instance..I'm gonna miss 'shall.' 🙂 It's a shame about 'between' though!..and lol would I be remiss to not bemoan the loss of 'big' even if the loss of the brief form only costs us one additional vowel circle.

      As for assigning only one meaning to a form this only applied to 'during', 'must', 'how'(removed in favor of 'out'), and 'year' (removed in favor of 'were'). And though the choice of doctor over during may be questionable in terms of commonality..doctor is a much longer word to write in full..this was not a 100% loss because 'doctor' was actually a substitution having been brought back from Simplified to replace 'during.' Likewise, 'Ms.' was substituted for 'must.'

      The only blend dropped was (m-m)- Thank you Carlos as that had escaped my notice before. I must say this seems like a really odd one for them to drop, at least to me(!).

      Finally, unless you happen to be taking shorthand for the post office I can't imagine the loss of 'post-' will cause any serious reductions in speed (and it was the only word beginning or ending dropped ..and incidentally, even here there was a trade-off in that S90 introduced a new family for 'graph'. I learned this from a reply Marc made in another post.) But I could be wrong about that.

    4. The majority of the revisions in DJS and S90 were to eliminate principles (not to modify or add) because they either (1) weren't used frequently, or (2) caused confusion. That tells me that the human element was more important in these decisions than the preservation of speed.

      I contend that Simplified should have been the most "simplified" version of Gregg for general use ever published, and any other versions should have been small revisions. (If they wanted to publish a new book, why not a fine tuning of that version?) Instead, they decided to drop stuff here and there (with some logic, but sometimes very odd logic!). The desire to simplify Simplified even more went too far, IMO. (Let the shorthand writer decide what to use and what not to use.) However, since Simplified was, after all, Leslie's creation in its final form, he could do as he pleased with it.

    5. Carlos, I like the fact that you have clarified your criticism to include *both* DJS and S90 (and by implication CT or anything after Simplified.) There is certainly a significant difference between Simplified and everything that came after which is plain to anyone who cares to look.

      I say this because what I'm used to reading here and other places on the web is essentially that S90 is the *bad* one and that DJS is for some reason o.k. (many have gone so far as to say it is almost as fast as Simplified.

      The view also seems to come with the idea that somehow CT was a rolling back or something and a realization that mistakes were made in S90 etc etc.

      Yet it is plain to see if you look at the manuals side by side that there are insignificant, almost no differences between DJS & S90 (And since all the books appear to use the same index with modifications this is quite easy.)

      I'm almost sorry to be pushing this point as I know there is a general feeling here that disagrees for whatever reason..maybe shorthand people just need something to blame for the nosedive shorthand took. But it seems to come up all the time and you brought it up above (reply 3) where I was seeking clarification on publications (because I am studying S90) to tell me that S90 *itself* had problems.

      I have had to go through the manuals carefully to question this and decide whether to stay on my current course.

      Truth be told I think the shorthand world may have in fact got what you asked for in the second paragraph- except that they don't realize it. All Gregg publications since 1949 are IMO essentially Simplified though be it with different names- "editions".. *slightly* different flavors if you will. But still Simplified.

      Thank you again for a thoughtful answer.

    6. You're welcome! I actually agree with your overall assessment.

      I also think systems after Simplified were diluted too much, but that's just my view. And Simplified has its share of things I don't like either.

      My last point in reply 3 was just an observation based on the feedback that MGH got once S90 was in the field, but perhaps S90 has been given a bum rap. My understanding from the history (and Marc will know more) was that there was very little research done in the production of S90. (I'm not sure how it compared to the research involved developing DJS, so it may not be a fair comparison.) Bottom line: take my rant above as a "buyer beware", or "your mileage may vary" kind of advice, that's all. Maybe you'll have better luck!

  6. Can I ask, Carlos, which features of Simplified you don't like, and which of Anniversary you wish had been preserved? I have a few ideas of my own, but would like to know yours, if you don't mind my asking.

    1. 1. Change in the abbreviating principle to apply to those words in the Simplified manual only.
      2. Elimination of the reversed r.
      3. Substantial elimination of phrasing (for example, the elimination of t for "to" before l or r).
      4. Having to write the h dot in him, her, has, and had (he and how are brief forms so they are not included) — I would've just said that in the past words the h dot is eliminated, and drop two brief forms at the same time.

      There are other small changes in outlines that I don't care about, but the above top my list.

    2. Thanks for the reply; I expected a more brutal criticism!
      I think the decline of shorthand was not so much due to the revisions of the system, but more to do with the changes in society that the revisions responded to, such as an expectation of quick results, a dumbing down of education in general, an unwillingness to tackle anything challenging, a belief that technology is the answer to everything. What a moany old man I'm becoming…

    3. I forgot to add, Pitman's Shorthand is as dead as a dodo here in GB; journalists only learn Teeline because they are required to do so and it is a relatively easy system to learn. This is an interesting quote from Ivy Constance Hill, the widow of Teeline's inventor, James Hill: "Teeline had not been developed as a replacement for shorthand, or for the verbatim writer. Indeed, young and able people were turned away from the early classes and told to enrol for a 'proper' shorthand class, places in the Teeline class being reserved for those who had not the time or the ability to learn one of the traditional systems." (from "Teaching Teeline", I. C. Hill, 1979, page 4.)

    4. You're welcome! I agree with you with regards to the decline in shorthand. I also think that the changes in the system reflect in great part the changes in society. Furthermore, and relating this last point to your UK journalist comment, I'd expect that the shorthand requirement will eventually be dropped, if scores start to fall.

      I've mellowed my views on Simplified, :-): you can still write really fast with it, and the writer can always fix some things without much relearning.

      Incidentally, I've been looking at Malone lately and if I were to learn a new system, I'd go with it. The shading takes a little time to get used to, but at the same time, it is so compact! I wonder how both of those factors affect speed.

    5. Replying to 6.i, the elimination of seldom used word endings, word beginnings, and brief forms was fine. Also, the standardization of word families was a good thing. For example, "report" written with -ort ending, "represent" being a derivative of "present", etc. (this change eliminated the corresponding brief forms).

  7. I am quite far behind in e-mails. My apologies.

    I'm flattered to be mentioned in all this. For those who don't know me, I worked on the S90 books and tapes. On my site (shorthandshorthandshorthand.com), I indicate a few things that may have been misconstrued.

    No male in the very early '70s when I was in high school would ever consider taking a shorthand class. DJ was in full swing at the time and I probably was the only male who could take dictation but I'd never admit it. It simply wasn't manly during a time of rigid gender roles. I learned from Mom's Anni books on the sly.

    On the site, I do mention the difficulty students had getting S90 up to speed. The same teachers who had great success with DJ were upset and bitterly complaining. Being an Anni writer and seeing everything written out so fully for S90, I blamed the system. After all, the teachers were the same and I can only assume the students' ability didn't drop from dramatically from one year (with DJ being taught) to the next (when S90 was taught). As I say on the site as well, the population of students taking shorthand was changing but that cannot account for the results we were hearing about.

    Hope that helps clarify.

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