What Are the Basics of Shorthand?

The basics of shorthand include a system of notation that allows the user to quickly create phrases and sentences in written form by using a system that reduces the effort necessary to create the symbols. Most shorthand methods use a phonetic system, wherein the symbols represent sounds rather than letters.

The term shorthand refers to a general concept behind a writing method that increases the writer's speed through the use of a special notation system, most commonly associated with fields that require dictation, such as a courtroom stenographer or personal assistant. The key element of these systems is a focus on creating an alphabet that tracks the phonetics of words, rather than the traditional alphabets, which include letters that combine to form the words. Traditional alphabets often slow down the dictation process due to the various spellings for words, which may include silent letters or regional differences.

The phonetic system removes this issue by allowing the writer to focus only on the sounds of the words, forming the notation according to the spoken sounds. Most systems include unique symbols to represent the vowels along with groupings of symbols for other common sounds. For example, the Gregg Shorthand method employs a diagonal dash of varying length that extends from the lower left towards the upper right to denote the sounds for the letters "T" and "D." The system also associates those letters with common words, such as "it" or "at" for the "T" symbol.