How to get the most from the Simplified Manual

Well hello there stenography friends,

I’ve been happily plowing through the Simplified Manual–not the functional one, although someday I may switch over to it, as I have seen it strongly plugged ☺️

My modus operandi has been to go through a lesson, cover all of the longhand answers with my fingers, and practice reading the shorthand forms. Then I go to the reading practice, and type out all of the answers, creating a key of sorts as I go (which I’d be happy to share when complete–it probably needs a few corrections XD)

After I finished the first chapter thusly, I returned to my answer key and began translating all of the lessons back into shorthand. A few times I used the transcription practice MP3s found here, but I found them a bit fast for me for now.

I’ve found that I’ve made tremendous progress while reading, but actually producing shorthand is slower–I expected this, because that has been my experience while learning any foreign language. But I suspect that I could be getting more from the manual.

Does anyone have recommendations about how to use the manual the best to get the most out of it?

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  1. Hi.  One tip I would give to you is try recording the lesson yourself.  Play it back.  If it is too slow, record again.  If it is to fast, try recording a little slower.  You will want it to be a little faster than what you can get down comfortably.  When I took shorthand in college, we did not even own a typewriter.  I wrote out each assignment a minimum of six times.  I read my shorthand back.  As I did, I recorded what I was reading, and then went back and wrote the dictated work.  By the end of the first semester, I could do 90 wpm.  By the end of second semester, I was up to 120.  Employable speed!  As a secretary, I used my shorthand everyday in the 70's and 80's.  I used a combination of Simplified and DJS.  Simplified has more brief forms.  Remember: Most instructors want perfection for the "A" grade; while the people you work for expect a letter back that they can be proud to put their signature on.  Also, practice your shorthand on grocery lists, phone calls, meeting notes, appointment books, and journals, etc. Good luck in your shorthand journey!


  2. For dictation, you might consider getting a computer sound editor app like Audacity. Audacity is high-quality freeware. Among many other things, it allows you to change the speed of a sound file without changing its pitch. Marc Semler uses it or something like it to produce the varied speeds of his dictations on

    In Simplified, the essential difference between the regular manual and the Functional Manual is that the latter has more articles in shorthand and somewhat less theoretical explanation. All the shorthand in the regular manual is in the Functional Manual, and then some; there are also several extra review lessons at the end. If you don't mind the business letters in the manual, then the Functional Manual can give you valuable extra practice.


    I don't know if it's Gregg or Pittman calibrated, and you need an internet connection every time, and slow speeds sound really strange, but it's worth trying.

    (Gregg says 1.4 syllables = 1 average word. Pitman says one word = 1 word.  I say it doesn't matter until you're almost ready for the formal exam.)

    1. The qwertysteno site is devoted to use of a regular qwerty keyboard for stenography. It recommends the plover system. As for the dictation, which sounds like a cartoon computer voice from the 1960's*, its speed seems to be syllable-based, which would suggest Gregg orientation. There is a one-syllable pause between words.


      * Stanley Kubrik was visionary in suggesting that HAL could sound like a real human being. Everyone else seemed to think machines must talk like the qwertysteno voice.

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