Shorthand systems

It's practically impossible for a person to block-print on paper as fast as a person can talk. Cursive (longhand) is only about 10% faster than block-printing. Shorthand is a writing system that can be written from 2 times to 10 times faster than cursive....

Shorthand systems are an excellent way to save time and energy when writing. Suppose you are at a meeting or a lecture. Depending on the "resolution" of the shorthand, you can capture anything from the gist of the speaker to a verbatim transcript of her speech.

Shorthand is also an excellent way to take notes for your own ideas, especially if your ideas tend to come in quick succession. Some people even keep their entire journals in shorthand.

Shorthand with special alphabets

Most shorthand systems use special alphabets that look like smooth squiggles. They usually use a single stroke for each vowel sound or consonant sound. Different sounds have curves or lines of different lengths and directions. The pen is only lifted once per word. This is enough to double writing speed.

For faster writing, most shorthand systems have a standardized list of abbreviations, and writers often leave out most vowels and otherwise write just enough to recall the full word or phrase from the surrounding context. Each writer often has custom abbreviations for words that writer commonly uses. (See NoteBooks:AbbreviationsAndShorthand?.

The Pitman shorthand system, developed by Sir Isaac Pitman in 1837, also uses thin or thick lines to distinguish between sounds, which increases Visual:InformationDensity? but restricts which writing implements may be used to those which can produce both heavy and light lines, such as a pencil, or a ballpoint or gel pen with a medium or broad tip.

German shorthands

There are three major shorthand systems for the german language; DEK (Deutsche Einheitskurzschrift, unified german shorthand) is the one prevalent amd official in Germany and Austria, where in Switzerland the Stolze-Schrey system is used instead. While not part of educations that result in officially recognized degrees, Stiefografie is endorsed by the Volkshochschulen. Those and the [[|Verein für rationelle Stenografie]] (Club for rational shorthand) are two main sources of education in Stiefografie. Proponents of the system claim to reach the same speeds as DEK stenographers after a much shorter learning time.

Roman alphabet systems

Some shorthand systems use the WikiPedia:Roman_alphabet, the standard script of the English language.

Dutton Speedwords

Dutton Speedwords is one of the most widely used Roman alphabet shorthand systems. More than a system of abbreviations, it was designed to double as an international auxiliary language like Esperanto.

Other Roman alphabet systems

Computer applications

Many of the shorthand ideas for abbreviating words work just as well when keyboarding. Although the emphasis of this wiki is not on computers, it would be foolish not to train your text editor or word processor to accept your shorthand or abbreviation system, especially if it uses the Roman alphabet.

Other forms of "modified writing"

Custom abbreviations can sometimes be difficult for other people to read. Some writers go beyond simply adjusting their system to improve speed, even if it makes it more difficult for others to read. They deliberately obfuscate their writing to try to keep it secret.

Computers have had serious limitations converting scanned text into text files on disk (termed Optical Character Recognition or OCR), and have more trouble when characters being scanned are irregular or otherwise not uniform (eg, nearly all handwriting). Error rates have been dropping as techniques improve, but some people take special trouble with they write letters to keep error rates adequately low.