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Shorthand is a quick way to write by hand using different symbols. This style of writing was common before the invention of tape recorders and was a skill secretaries needed to have. Shorthand is useful when recording dictation or taking notes. There are different forms of shorthand, but they all use symbols for words or phrases. It is hard to find classes that teach shorthand since demand for the writing style is low. However, there are web sites that teach shorthand for free.
Decide on the type of shorthand style you would like to learn. According to Alysion, shorthand style options include T-Script at the professional or alpha-level, Pitman shorthand, Gregg shorthand, teeline shorthand, alphabetic shorthand systems, handy write, Bell’s visible speech, the International Phonetic Alphabet and blissymbolics.
Type the name of the style of shorthand you would like to learn into a search engine. From the list of sites the search engine finds, pick one that offers free online shorthand lessons or tutorials.
Learn the alphabet for the method of shorthand you would like to learn. Practice writing the letters or symbols used for this style until you have the characters memorized.
Learn how to write diphthongs, words with two vowels together that form only one sound (for example, loud, aisle or lean). Diphthongs may have their own symbols.
Learn how to write blended consonants. These consonants have endings that sound similar but are written differently: for example, "ten" and "den," "ent" and "end," or "tem and dem."
Learn how to write phonetically. For example, the word “cat” is pronounced with the sound of the letter “k.” Long vowels and short vowels may also have different symbols to indicate how the letter sounds.
Using the guide you found online, begin building phrases. Some phrases have their own symbols.
Learn business abbreviations. Such abbreviations will replace the words “Mr.,” “Yours truly” or “Dear Sir,” for example. Knowing these will come in handy if you need to write notes about a letter or are reading shorthand notes someone else wrote.
Drill yourself to build speed. Create a list of words to write in shorthand within a specific amount of time. Have a list of basic words, words that look similar in shorthand and words frequently used. Once you improve, move on to doing drills involving phrases, reading shorthand or taking dictation.
Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.