5 Ways to Increase Shorthand Speed

5 Ways to Increase Shorthand Speed

How to improve shorthand speedA while ago, I wrote an introduction to Teeline shorthand post. As it’s a popular post, which brings a steady flow of visitors to the blog, I thought I’d revisit the subject with five tips to help you increase shorthand speed. My own experience is in Teeline shorthand, but these general principles can be applied to other methods too, such as Pitman’s.

1. Practice
Practice, practice and more practice. Shorthand tutors usually recommend around an hour a day spent perfecting outlines and dictation. The more time you give shorthand, the more success you’ll have with it. From personal experience, if you can’t manage an hour a day, it’s better to practice little and often than for hours on end. I sometimes found after an extended time period you tend to question why a word has a certain outline, and get bogged down in unnecessary details. Try practicing for 30 minutes a day to keep the theory fresh in your mind.

2. Special Outlines
Commonly used words have special outlines to save even more time than writing with just the Teeline alphabet. In some cases, they’ll be the same outline as a singular Teeline letter but the context of the text will help when transcribing. I’ve noted some examples below:

Teeline Shorthand Special Outlines on a notepad
3. Special Phrases
If you think your speed will increase by using special outlines for words, just think how much time you’ll save when using special outlines for entire phrases. Below are two sets of special phrases containing the words ‘be’ and ‘that’. This should be useful if you’re just starting out with Teeline as they’re very commonly used word groupings.

Teeline Shorthand Special Phrases written on a notepad

4. Control your nerves
The worst part of taking shorthand notes from dictation is not knowing what words you’ll need to write in advance. Inevitably you’ll come across words you’ve not used before but don’t panic. Putting a technically incorrect outline that will hopefully remind you of the correct word later is fine. If you’re totally stuck don’t waste time dwelling on it. Move on to words you’re more familiar with so you can keep up with dictation and continue to increase shorthand speed overall. Obviously this links back to point one, practice. Drill those unknown words until you can write from ‘muscle memory’ but don’t sweat it when you don’t know the answer.

5. Set realistic targets and achieve them.
Be realistic – you can only achieve speeds of 100 words per minute or more if you have the time to dedicate to shorthand.  Set goals that are achievable (but challenging) within the time and effort you’re willing to put in. Set a target of 40wpm and master this before moving on to 50wpm, and so on.

Easy Teeline Shorthand Sentences

Utilize these tips and you should see your shorthand improving in no time. Then you’ll be able to read simple phrases like the one above – any idea what it says?

It can be difficult to find comprehensive shorthand resources online, particularly free ones, so I hope these tips are useful for you – whether you’re a beginner or just want to improve your skills. If it’s still a bit baffling then refer back to my previous post for a reminder of the basics of Teeline shorthand. As I’ve said before, signing up for a course where you can ask questions and get one to one teaching will be the most effective way to learn shorthand. I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have in the comments below!


  1. Anonymous

    6 August

    read, write and remember

  2. John Olsson

    19 August

    Practising nonsense words with high frequency letters can help, especially combinations of ‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘pl’, ‘ps’, ‘tr’, ‘fr’, ‘fl’, etc. That way you associate the sound with the shape and are not ‘blocked’ by an association between the word and the Teeline shape.

    • Crystal Rose

      7 October

      I agree with this – I know for me the challenge was for: shl, shous and shls: remembering when the “S” is joined and when it isn’t.

      • Anonymous

        1 June

        I agree with this one main point practice makes man perfect and easy read outline

  3. […] 5 ways to increase shorthand speed. […]

  4. […] 5 ways to increase shorthand speed. […]

  5. Anonymous

    21 October

    thanks for these tips…I am also working as stenographer…thanks for shorthand he give me reward for this great job….I love this…so much….I suggest the people this is the right path to achieve you goals…..

    • Muhammad riaz

      14 October

      I need ur help plz
      If u can add me on Facebook Muhammad Riaz

  6. prince

    23 October

    thanx coz that’s u mean there’re different types of shorthand,eg pitman?

    • emmalaw

      23 October

      Yes, Pitman’s is a different type of shorthand to Teeline which uses different techniques. The general tips given here will help increase speed but I’m mainly referring to Teeline as that’s what I know. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        24 September

        how we remember rule pitman and teeline rules? A huge difference between them
        Tell me some tips to increase shorthand speed and accuracy s.hand. awaiting your reply on this id( Add me on face book (farooq Ahmad)

  7. […] bottom of my knitting bag I definitely need more practice though. Featured on the blog were some shorthand tips and some tasty treats baked by me.Summer was spent touring around London and taking in the amazing […]

  8. Kate

    15 June

    Great post – the “little and often” tip is an excellent idea. As for the nerves, that can play a big part on exam day!

    The other thing I found is that it was hard to find audio to practice and while you might feel confident in your theory, you absolutely have to practice with a CD or a live speaker.

    • Dipankar kalita

      23 June

      please help me… me plz .?

    • Anonymous

      24 September

      if you agree with me?????????? there is a great difference between pitman and teeline rule…………….
      how we increase speed in shorthand . reply through email ( awaiting your reply through e-mail

  9. Anonymous

    30 June

    how much time a beginner will require to attain d speed of 80 words/min, if he is at his best?

  10. Dipankar kalita

    23 June

    thanks for wonderful tips…

    • Anonymous

      29 July

      yes tips very simplee

  11. Chandan

    27 November

    How can the matter transcribe in double space

  12. Alindra Barman

    3 February

    In Pitman Shorthand, so many logograms and phases are there. Only practice is required. An hour practice everyday is better than more time after a gap. Gap reduces speed and accuracy.

    Alindra Barman

  13. Alexander Areta Kagahastian

    28 April

    I sincerely think that you have to build up great amount of legal terms if you want to be a good legal stenographer. Skills and considerable amount of words goes hand and hand.

  14. Anonymous

    21 May

    one tips shorthand only practice you will succeed.

  15. mujeeb joyo

    8 June

    Thanks for help…these points are very helpful.

  16. karan

    20 June

    hey can u tell me how to improve accuracy in short time nd I m practising steno by pitman not this form and pitman’s outline is differ from this one

    • Anonymous

      29 August

      I can also practice in pitman’s s.h

  17. Anonymous

    24 September

    but these outline are different and beyond away as per rule of Pitman book

  18. Anonymous

    24 September

    HOw increase shorthand speed and accuracny. please send some tips and rules that are near pitman’s book rule . tell me detial latest version shorthand i.e. pitman & 700 (s/hand Book). please reply through email and add me on face book (

  19. Anonymous

    22 October

    I am also Following Pitmanites Shorta Hand. Can I get any Audios of Dictations. – Shiva

  20. nadeem ahmad

    13 November

    i am learning shorthand plz help

  21. Anonymous

    19 November

    my speed is 85wpm but accuracy is main problem for me..

  22. Rohit kumar

    20 November

    my speed us 85wpm but accuracy is the main problem for me..

  23. James Macauley

    28 November

    Okay, i am aware the author can speak for herself but just for anyone who thinks they can write shorthand without understanding how to read basic english, The author here studied Tee Line shorthand. She can not give you advice on Pitman shorthand. Look at blends and passages written in the two types. They are a completely different thing. So how do you improve in Tee Line? read the 5 tips above which are great. How do you improve pitman? ask someone who has studied it

  24. Punit vij

    11 January

    Please help me and increase my shorthand speed plsssssss

    • Anonymous

      7 January

      practice is very important for you for speed and you read phrases

  25. Viren

    10 April

    that is totally wrong methods to learn please don’t use that method if you are in speed.

    • emmalaw

      10 April

      Hi Viren,
      Feel free to share your own methods which you feel work better than those given in this post. I’m always looking for new tips and tricks! I’d also be interested to hear why you think practice, using special outlines and special phrases, not sweating the mistakes and setting realistic targets are the wrong methods for shorthand success.
      Thanks, Emma

  26. larbr

    28 July

    this is very good tips for short hand learners. thanks regards :

  27. BIRAJ

    4 August

    sir i am totally failour about this and now i am in zero point ohh god…

  28. Manasvi

    18 July

    Nice tips..Will surely help everyone to increase the speed in steno.

  29. That’s good to know that you should practice. I would think that would be the best way to increase speed. I would think that would make it more readable as well.

  30. Nancie

    20 September

    shorthand is a matter of practice, the more you practice the more you get it through practicing a lot i managed to attain a speed of 80 words per minute.

  31. Prabhat

    17 October

    Hey Emmalaw 😃😃, I am Prabhat from India I really liked your post. I want to learn teeline shorthand as it is easier and faster to learn than Pitman shorthand ( which is widely used in India ). But the problem I am facing is that there are no teachers or books available here in India, so I am feeling helpless and don’t know how to start learning it. From Google search I found out Teeline gold standard for journalists is very good book to get 100 wpm speed.
    So, Will you please share some of books that you use for teeline with me by gmail?? I have an option to buy the Teeline gold standard for journalists book from Amazon international site but it is costing my 3 months house rent just to buy book of 250 pages because of currency conversion rates. I am looking forward for your reply ….
    My gmail —

  32. Dinesh

    13 December

    I need pitman shorthand book chapter words and exercises plz. Help me

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