Blog Students Study Tips How Shorthand Writing Can Improve Your Note-Taking Skills in Your Classes

How Shorthand Writing Can Improve Your Note-Taking Skills in Your Classes

When we take a test, we often find ourselves wondering where some of these questions are from. We just blank out, thinking that these questions were not discussed in class and are not in your notes.

But, when you go back to these tests, your classmates’ notes have that specific information. Sometimes, you will be surprised you written about it but chalked it up as supplemental information.

If this often happens to you, you are not alone. Lectures can be long and winding at times, but it covers all the facts you need to know. Sadly, we can’t always write them all because everything can be too fast and we can’t write fast to match it.

Fortunately, there is a trick to making detailed notes and that is by using shorthand. It may sound complicated, but it can be a fun language to develop to make note-taking easy to do.

What is Shorthand Writing

Shorthand writing is a special writing system that uses either abbreviations or symbols to represent words or phrases. Some also know this system as stenography or narrow writing, brachygraphy or short writing and tachygraphy or swift writing.

Since this system enables people to write faster, they can do complicated notetaking. Many writers doing court proceedings and business letters use shorthand writing since it is more efficient to utilize.

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Famous writers like Samuel Pepys and George Bernard Shaw use shorthand writing for their work.

Types of Shorthand Writing

Today, there are three major types of shorthand writing: Teeline, Pitman and Gregg.

Teeline shorthand

It uses several symbols to represent letters. It also leaves out silent or double consonants and stray vowels that can be removed. For example, if the full word is “ABOUT”, it is written as “ABT” in Teeline. Vowels are also written a bit smaller than consonants.

The Pitman method

This method uses the sounds of words to create a unique shorthand alphabet for both consonants and vowels. It also uses slashes, thick lines and dots to write down words. Consonants are also written in thick lines and each consonant varies in how it should be written.

Gregg shorthand

It uses phonetics to create symbols for various words and phrases. It also has a unique symbol set for the alphabet. Consonants are written in various hook sizes or vertical lines. Vowels, on the other hand, are written in different circle sizes.

Why use shorthand writing

Shorthand writing presents a lot of benefits to those who practice it. For students, here are three major reasons why you need to use it:

It saves time and energy

When you do notes with shorthand writing, you spend lesser time making winding notes. You can now cover everything easily and keep up with your lectures and discussions.

You also will save up money since you do not need to buy a Dictaphone or voice recorder to record your notes. Not all teachers are happy with recording devices in class. You will need to ask in advance.

It can record speeches better than a Dictaphone

If you use shorthand, you will be able to record speeches per word without needing a recording device or recording app. You also do not have to keep pausing the speech so you will be able to write what they are saying.

You also won’t have to worry about your device dying in the middle of the class.

It stimulates the mind

Shorthand enables you to train the mind since you are learning something that is completely new. It also helps to improve your concentration since, in shorthand writing, you need to write the right symbols, as the lecture you are listening is fast.

It also helps you improve your handwriting and your language skills. Listening is also improved when one learns how to do shorthand writing.

Tips for Using Shorthand

If you want to be proficient in shorthand writing, you need to have a good shorthand system in place and practice it regularly.

To start you off, here are some tips you can try out.

1) Familiarize yourself with the types of shorthand writing styles available. Each type has established alphabet and symbols guide, which you can find online. Once you familiarize yourself with these styles, pick one that you will master.

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2) Use a pen or pencil that can glide smoothly in your notebook or paper. Don’t pick pens that bleed a lot or a dull point pencil. If you have a tablet, consider buying a special tablet pen that mimics a pen tip.

3) List down all the commonly used words in your lectures and create a shortcut (maybe a symbol or an abbreviation of the word).

4) Before class or before the term begins, review your books and list down the common terms. When you have the list down, create shortcuts. For example, if you are attending a class on history, you can use shortcuts like WWI for World War II, CW for Cold War, and others.

5) Try giving yourself some practice in using these shorthand shortcuts before your term starts. You can do this by using passages that you like from your textbooks and write them in the shorthand version.

6) Ask a friend to read your books for you. This will help your mind concentrate as you try to take notes of the things they are saying.

7) While practising, time yourself each time you finish a passage. The more you practice, the more you will be able to write faster in shorthand.

8) Take short courses in shorthand writing, whether online or through hiring a tutor. Shorthand teaching courses are available online and there are tutors who specialize in shorthand writing.


If you want to be efficient when you do notes, you need to be open in experimenting with different styles of note-taking. With shorthand, not only can you write the details you need, but it will also help you have fun doing notes.

If you still have difficulty learning shorthand writing after reading this article, you may engage a professional English writing tutor from us to help you master this skill.

Alternatively, you can also engage an essay writer to help you but do remember to take note of plagiarism and only use it as a guide!

Have fun writing and remember: Practice makes perfect!

For more ways to improve your performance in class, check these out:

10 Memory Techniques For Studying To Excel In Singapore Education
5 Secrets to Supercharge Your Memory


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.