How shorthand writing could help you in college


Sometimes lectures can be a real nightmare. We have probably all felt the pain of a lecturer who gives you about ten seconds to copy down a full slide of information before moving on to a totally different topic; made even worse when it’s an early morning class, and your brain is still asleep inside your head. It can feel a little hopeless, but shorthand could be your ultimate savior.

What is it?

Shorthand is essentially a different language, in written form that was developed to minimise the number of strokes that the writer had to make with their pen. It uses the same alphabet but looks totally different to the writing you are used to. It’s not perfect for everyone and certainly has some drawbacks, but if it works well with your working style, it could be the ideal solution for you and your note-taking woes by giving you much more time during lectures and improving organization. Some people think it’s really aesthetically pleasing too!

The two types

The two official types of shorthand are called the Pitman System and the Gregg System. Gregg is the more popular system in the U.S. It is thought to be the fastest way to take shorthand notes and was used by court reporters. It has an equivalent alphabet that replaces the letters you know with different pen strokes. The Pitman shorthand system is very old, its invention was in the 1830s, and was created with old-fashioned pens in mind. Instead of letters, like the Gregg System, it uses the word sounds to form its alphabet and uses dots, dashes and lines of different thicknesses.

Time to learn

It’s not a good idea to try and learn either one of these systems in their entirety because it can take years, so it’s not really going to help you out quickly. But you can pick out techniques that are helpful to you and incorporate them into your normal note taking. There are many ways you could do this, and it will depend on your personal preference, but one good example is to select words that often come up in your chosen subject and replace them with symbols. This will be especially useful with long phrases or words that are difficult to spell. Be sure to make a key though beforehand, or your notes could end up being totally illegible.

Overall, shorthand can become very helpful if you remember that it is very individualized and that you will do a better job with it if you come up with a system you are comfortable with rather than rigidly trying to learn a specific premade system. Good luck in your future lectures!