Introduction from a new member – GS learner

Hello All,

I wanted to just introduce myself. I discovered this blog a few days ago.

I’m a new GS learner. For fun, a friend of mine and I are studying 1916 Pre-Anniversary 5th edition together. She is helping me learn this as she used the Diamond Jubilee edition GS professionally in a past life. She anticipates studying the 1916 brief forms together and she’ll be checking and correcting my outlines.

With Carlos’ help, we’ve just now picked up a bunch of additional 1916 study material.

I have a first question- I’m left handed so I’ve always been penmanship-challenged since primary school. It seems the shapes of the outlines are important in GS for legibility reasons. Are there any penmanship aids for GS? Like templates where I can practice tracing the outlines, etc?

Look forward to participating in this blog!


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  1. Hi and welcome!  I myself am also new, just starting to learn Anniversary GS.  Among other approaches to learn GS, I decided to get into tracing in a big way. I have just ordered a light box from Amazon.  Illustrators use them to trace designs.  If you can print out selected GS forms onto ordinary paper (I use screen capture and paste into an Excel spreadsheet, then print out the cells I want to practice) and place it on a light box (there are different sizes – for 8 1/2 x 11 paper, A4 is the size).  The light from the box should be sufficient for you to be able to place a 2nd piece of paper on top of the paper with the forms on it, and begin tracing.  There are many light boxes available – I ordered the one from Tikteck.  It's powered by a USB cable going from the device to a power source (e.g. portable one used for charging a smart phone).  The cost for this model is $29.98.  You won't find any light boxes that can transfer images from a computer – for that ability you would work with a "2 in 1" PC tablet (which I have, but it's too thick to work with easily).  I anticipate tracing in this way will work just fine.  Good luck! Michael Miller

    1. Just a really quick question about something you mentioned, Michael. You mentioned a 2-in-1 tablet. Can you describe how you were trying to use it and what specific application you are running on it?

      I'm probably not picturing the use case well enough because I can't see why a 2-in-1 tablet would be better for any particular use than my iPad. The only thing I am picturing is that you are displaying outlines in some app, then using a stylus to trace them in a different color. But with the right app, what I'm thinking of could be done on the iPad as well. I should say that I'm actually not sure what app on my iPad Pro would support this use case, but if one doesn't exist, I could even program a new app like this very quickly.

      1. I agree, an iPad probably would work fine.  I don't have a current usable iPad, and the light box works very well, I have found.  I'm not using an app at all.  I am printing out portions of an Excel spreadsheet, placing the page on the light box, then placing a blank printing paper on top.  The forms shine through easily, and I trace.  On the printed out sheet that goes first, I have columns in which there is the word in printed English, then the form, for tracing, then some blank cells for trying out my forms without tracing.  That way, the only app I need is Excel, and I only need to print out a set of words to try tracing once.  Hope this makes sense.  Michael Miller

      2. A 2-in-1 pattern was an idea, but it isn't good for me, at least.  It's too thick when folded all the way.  I was trying it out, using a blank page as a "light box" display from Word.  I got the light box in yesterday, and I think it's great for this purpose.

        1. Oh. You were just using the 2-in-1 as a simple, passive lightbox for tracing printed outlines. And to think I was imagining all sorts of creative uses involving apps.

          Actually, now that I'm thinking about this, I did think of a tracing app that could run on an iPad with a stylus. Display the outline, and then you use the stylus to trace over it, and the app tells you that you did well or you should draw it again. Intriguing. I might actually try to create that app!

      3. You can also photocopy the outlines and trace on the copies. Older books say to trace directly in the book with something that won't leave a mark. 

        1. I wouldn't recommend photocopying and tracing from any book or manual published before the Anniversary series, including the first edition of Gregg Speed Studies, unless you enlarge the plates. The shorthand plates of the early books were reduced in size. If you try writing that small as the books show, your can hurt your hand (and strain your eyes)! They stopped reducing the plate size with the Anniversary series.

  2. Thanks for the welcome Carlos, Cricket, and Michael!

    I see the penmanship template. How do you use that Carlos? Just like a Gregg-ruled steno pad?

    Cricket, I've bookmarked the page and favorited it in my Tumblr account. Unfortunately, it hasn't been active in the last year, but there is a lot of good old content.

    Michael, that is a great idea about the lightbox. I think I will get one too. What sort of exercises do you trace? Can you give me an example? Also, have you found that after a certain number of tracings, your freehand outlines improve from a penmanship perspective? How much of an improvement do you see and how many repetitions (of tracing) do you do of a given outline?

    1. Yes. The template is Gregg ruled, and you write on it just like you do with a Gregg-ruled steno pad. The only thing is that I split the space in the middle first, and then the bottom space is further split in two. This will let you get a sense of an approximate size for your characters. There is an example in that post about how to write on it.

    2. As I mentioned above, I am printing out portions of an Excel spreadsheet, placing the page on the light box, then placing a blank printing paper on top.  The forms shin through easily, and I trace.  I can send you the file I am using, if we can figure out a way to share emails – I don't want to put it in here  (you can look me up on LinkedIn and we can message there).  I print out portions of Excel in which I have columns labeled for the English of each word, then "tracing" in which the form is placed (a screen shot from the pdf of Gregg Shorthand Dictionary [Anniversary], then "trial" for 2 more columns in which I try the form without any tracing behind it.  What I have found so far is certain patterns which I want to correct – I tend to make my horizontal strokes (both curved and straight) too short, when I compare my freeform strokes to the strokes that are traced.  This I am slowly correcting (I am sound oriented, so the sound of the pencil I use is very helpful feedback).  This is all under the "Practice doesn't necessarily make perfect – it makes permanent" department.  Hope this helps!  Michael Miller

  3. With regards to the penmanship question, I find this useful:

    http://gregg-shorthand.com/2004/10/02/lessons-in-shorthand-penmanship-2/

    Also, this is very helpful:

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.31951002120679f&view=1up&seq=13

    I do lots of the pull-push drills etc. in my spare time, not just for Gregg, but for business and ornamental penmanship.

    Gregg was designed to suit the writing methods of the day, based on ovals. A good resource (I also do 19th century style business penmanship and calligraphy) for left handers is:

    https://www.iampeth.com/collection/left-handed

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOjh0SkwyCM

    1. Thank you for the info and the links, Niten Ichi! Since I prefer physical books, I managed to find a print copy of the practical drills book and ordered it.

      I looked at some of the left-handed links you sent and watched the video, but I was amazed that in the video, he is righting completely sideways in relation to his body. I don't think I could write at a 90 degrees action to my body. That would be beyond annoying. Do you do that yourself?

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