Question about switching systems

Does switching systems (for example im learning notehand right now) just involve learning new symbols and adding them to my arsenal, or does it involve completely relearning the whole thing and back to new basics? And can I slowly transition?

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  1. All versions of Gregg are very close in terms of the characters used, and even many of the briefs and phrases.  There are a few characters that aren’t in Notehand that you’d have to learn if you went to Diamond Jubilee, Simplified, or Anniversary, and certainly there would be more briefs and phrasing to learn, but everything you’ve been taught in Notehand would still apply, so you’d have a very good start on the new material.  You can absolutely transition, no problem.  What version of Gregg are you thinking of learning?

    1. I agree. Gregg is Gregg: the alphabet is basically the same between the series. You will be learning more rules and abbreviations for sure, but that is not an impossible task. (I know many writers like you that started with one of the slower series of Gregg, and liked shorthand so much that eventually learned Anniversary!) However, my recommendation is that you finish studying Notehand before you switch to a different series, so that you have a good base to rely on. In that way, when you switch, you will be breezing through the first lessons because you already know the basics.

    2. Oh ok thx so much for the responses, thats super good to hear. I will deffenetly stay with notehand untill I feel comfortable with it.
      What system would you recommend I transition if I do?

      1. The series you choose will depend on your specific goals, basically how fast you want to be able to write. If you want to be able to write very fast, a more abbreviated series would be the way to go (“Anniversary” is very common because of the availability of materials). If speed is not a consideration, a slower series such as “Simplified” (or “Diamond Jubilee”, or “Series 90”, or even “Centennial”) would be better.

        The advantage of learning an abbreviated series like Anniversary is that, in addition to giving you the potential to write very fast, it allows you to read virtually any Gregg Shorthand text written in any series without difficulty. On the other hand, a lot of writers that learned Gregg on their own write Simplified because they don’t need the extra abbreviations (and many of the members of the blog write the other slower series because they learned whatever was being taught in school at the time). So if you don’t want to learn one of the faster series, say Anniversary, I recommend learning Simplified Gregg — it will give you the most bang for the buck, so to speak: a relatively fast system without the additional rules present in the earlier versions of Gregg Shorthand.

        Lastly, as expected, the learning curve from Notehand to any of the abbreviated series is less steep than going from Notehand to an abbreviated series, but again, with your base it should not be a concern.

  2. I started off with Notehand (in high school in the 1960s), and then learned Diamond Jubilee (DJS).

    I write DJS because as Carlos said, it’s what was current at the time I was learning.

    Since then I’ve learned to read both Simplified and Anniversary, because of the available material in those versions. I occasionally get “stuck” about an outline in Anniversary, but not very often. For me personally, it has never seemed useful or practical to learn to use all the Anniversary brief forms.

    I think there’s very little difference, practically speaking, between DJS, Series 90, and Centennial, except for a few variations in brief forms. Centennial materials are relatively scarce, because it wasn’t commercially successful, so I wouldn’t bother with it.

    I fully agree that you should go ahead and finish the Notehand lessons.

    If you use Facebook, you might want to look at the group “Gregg Shorthand Readers, Writers and Fans”. I’ve been trying to regularly post “non business letter” material there for a while.


  3. I started with Anniversary but transitioned to Simplified in the middle of Anniversary studies because when I got some actual Simplified books they were so much more readable. That made for better practice and learning. But like others above point out, I do get a little twitchy-eyed when I read words in Simplified that I know could be more abbreviated via Anniversary. Like “work”.

    I do want to get back to Anniversary at some point but for now it is better progress for me to be able to read more examplar shorthand and perhaps even the practice of slightly more verbose forms. Being I am doing this for fun and have no need for conversational speeds this has worked well for me. I am able to take conversational notes faster now in any case. Shorthand really is a fascinating and useful skill.

    1. Anniversary definitely has speed advantage, if you’re up to the memory load of all the brief forms. I have never needed the additional speed, and after learning DJS when I was young haven’t wanted to change. I’ve learned enough Anniversary and Simplified to be able to read them without much difficulty.

      “Work” is actually the same in Anniversary and Simplified: r-k. It was changed to oo-k in DJS, but then back to r-k in Series 90.


      1. “Manufacture”, for me, is the kicker in Simplified: having to write the whole outline was so bad that the powers that be restored the abbreviated form in DJS. And then in DJS, the the horrible mistake with “work” is made …

        1. Haha. “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to ook we go!”

          If I remember correctly, the justification for oo-k was a) it maintains the beginning w sound of the word, and b) it makes writing the word “worker” clearer.

          I don’t think it was a terrible change, just unnecessary and unpopular. There’s also a possibility of misreading it as “you can”.

          “I can go to work!”
          “You can?”


  4. Agreed that “work” (ook) in Diamond Jubilee was awful and probably the chief thing Simplified teachers criticized when they went from Simplified to DJ.  When Series 90 was introduced in 1978, I attended a teachers’ conference conducted by Charles Zoubek, the coauthor of both series, about the changes that would be forthcoming in Series 90.  I recall that he said they (Leslie and Zoubek) were going back to “work” as “rk” because they decided that it was easy to attach “r” in the word worker (rkr).  In the earlier versions (Simplified, Anniversary) the disjoining was another theory principle but that principle was not used in DJ or Series 90.  Thus, the return to “rk” as the brief form for work!

    Gregg Notehand was really a marketing strategy and was not intended to develop stenographic competency.  The memory load was still great and little speed could be developed in a semester-long program.  In the early 1960s, it was frequently paired with personal typewriting in the high school curriculum for college-bound students.  After the first edition, one of the authors on it, James Deese, did not want to be associated with it anymore; and his name did not appear on the second edition.  Alphabetic systems, such as Speedwriting and Stenoscript, could much more soundly “fill the bill” for a rapid-writing system for personal use.

    I agree with Carlos that, all things being equal, for a pure beginner Simplified would be the way to go.  A very important consideration (aside from the system itself) are the learning materials.  These were greatly improved when Gregg went from Anniversary to Simplified (and they were further improved in the movement from Simplified to DJ).  I learned DJ in the late 1960s because that was being taught at the time, but I wish I had learned Simplified.  Later, I taught DJ, Series 90, and Centennial.  For several years I taught Gregg Expert Speedbuilding (Diamond Jubilee) which enabled me to learn an additional 200 or so brief forms and other abbreviating devices.  These enabled me to put more speed into my writing.

    1. James Deese was a psychologist and authored the “how to make notes” part of the Notehand textbook. His name is still on the second edition; I don’t know whether he was actively involved with it, or if McGraw-Hill just used his material.

      One advantage of learning Simplified is that you can then read DJS and S90 without any difficulty. Going the other direction is a little harder.


    2. Peter, I think it’s fascinating that you taught Expert Speed Building. I’ve often wondered if and how often the book was actually used as a textbook. What kind of students enrolled in the course, and what was their goal for using it?

      It’s also interesting that you taught Centennial, which commercially was a failure and marked the end of the Gregg shorthand versions. Centennial materials are really scarce today, and when they show up on Ebay or other book sites they’re priced high.

      I’ve always thought McGraw-Hill made a mistake by not sticking with DJS and simply updating and reformatting the material. Series 90 and Centennial are so close to DJS in appearance that it’s hard for me to tell the difference when I’m reading something.


      1. Lee,

        Gregg Expert Speed Building (Diamond Jubilee) was used as the standard textbook in the fourth semester of the shorthand program in a two-year community college. Students enrolling in the course would have been writing at least 90 wpm on three-minutes takes within a 5% error tolerance. I would introduce each shortcut on the board and the students would complete the lesson as homework. The following day I would do speedbuilding on the first letter in each chapter which was the so-called “expert shortcut letter.” This way the shortcuts the students just learned were reinforced. The shortcuts were further reinforced in the last 40 lessons of the textbook through expert shortcut reviews. This class met five hours per week, so we were able to accomplish quite a bit. Of course, transcription was a big part of the course. I taught the course for five years and found it very successful, and I think the students appreciated (for the most part) learning the shortcuts.

        I taught Centennial for one year only (1990). That was the last year we taught Gregg Shorthand. Of course, I found the Diamond Jubilee a much better system; but at this point, I believe they (McGraw-Hill authors) were just trying to make learning shorthand as easy as possible by a reduction in the memory load. After that, we switched to Speedwriting, which was very successful in a one-year program. By the mid-90s, shorthand was completely eliminated from the curriculum because it was no longer a job requirement for secretarial/administrative assistant occupations. I had all of the Centennial books and tossed them out a few years ago. I wish I had kept them!

        In the late 70s and early 80s, we taught South-Western’s Century 21 Shorthand. For the most part, I thought it was an excellent research-based system. The learning materials were outstanding. Since McGraw-Hill and South-Western were competing for the shorthand market, I believe McGraw-Hill introduced Series 90 to compete with Century 21.

        All of this seems like the distant past, but I sure enjoyed teaching shorthand in those days!

        1. Thanks for filling in so much interesting information. I’ve always wondered if the Expert Speed Building was ever actually used in classrooms.

          Regarding Century 21, the authors were all former Gregg writers and authors–South-Western published a number of texts by agreement with McGraw-Hill, including several editions of “Transcription Studies” and “Dictation Studies”.

          They thought they could improve Gregg, but my main objection is that the Century 21 books don’t give any acknowledgment at all to the conceptual basis in Gregg. To me, it seems like they essentially “stole” the basic elements, and then presented Century 21 as a new system of their own creation. I’ve always been surprised there wasn’t a lawsuit, but maybe by then McGraw-Hill knew it wouldn’t be worth the cost of battling it.

          Of course, I don’t know any of the “back story”. There may have been discussions and agreements that no one has any information about.


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