Trade secrets: How to do shorthand

Some people might balance spoons on their face as their party piece. Others might whip out their best Alan Sugar impression, or a bit of amateur opera.

Ask a journalist, though, and it’s likely to be their Teeline rather than their teaspoons that they turn to.

Shorthand comes in a variety of styles. Former typists and secretaries ask me if I do Pitman – but it’s Teeline, a modern-day, quicker-to-learn form that’s the norm for trainees today.

If you don’t know, shorthand enables us to take swift, accurate notes far quicker than just writing down what someone you’re interviewing is saying.

To the untrained eye, it looks like a messy collection of unidentifiable symbols. You may as well be trying to decipher Japanese.

But when you break it down, it starts to become a little more familiar.

The Teeline Shorthand alphabet

The alphabet

Each letter has a Teeline outline. As you can see, some are identical, like ‘X’, while others are very similar to their longhand letters. Once you’ve learned that, you need to know how to form words.

Starting with the longhand word, we take out the middle vowels and one of the double letters. That leaves the ‘stem’ which forms the shorthand word, in the third line. The fourth line shows the individual letters broken down


It’s not just a case of taking a word, finding the Teeline equivalents and joining all the letters together. That would take as long as longhand!

Instead, there are a few rules to follow. If you have a double letter, like in ‘hello’, you lose one of them. Any vowels in the middle of words usually go, too, and eventually you’re left with a ‘stem’ which then forms the word in shorthand. See above!

Not that simple!

You didn’t think it would be that simple, did you? No, of course not. To make it even quicker to write things, there are all sorts of shortcuts. Popular endings like ‘ing’ are a mere flick, while a lengthened ‘T’ becomes a ‘Tr’ and so on.



At university, we learned this craft over two years, working towards what’s seen as the gold standard speed – being able to write in shorthand at 100 words per minute. People on intensive courses can do it in around 14 weeks.

Teeline usually goes up to 120 words per minute, while older forms can be quicker but harder to learn (or so I’m told!). Many people will talk quicker than this but a triple-figure shorthand rating should be ample to keep up and take down key quotes.

All the rules are learned pretty quickly. It’s the speed which takes the time. Imagine trying to work out how to shorten the word, then arrange the letters, in the time someone took to speak it. Tricky!

At the beginning, the tutors sound like malfunctioning robots as they read scripts through in painfully-slow speech. The pressure soon ramps up and daily shorthand is needed to improve quickly.


You’re clearly all experts, now, so I’ll give you a little test. See if you can work out some of what this says. To help, the thing that looks like an exclamation mark is just that, while the long forward slashes represent full stops.

It’s been a while since I was in the classroom – and you inevitably develop your own style – so I suspect my old tutor will take a look at this guide and tut loudly. How standards have slipped…

Scroll down for the answer. It’s actually quite a tricky couple of sentences, with a few shortcuts in there. If you work out a word or two, well done!

































Answer: Hello! Welcome to my blog where my son is sick a lot! Please like, follow and share it so lots of people see it. Thank you.




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