What is Stenography?
Stenography, or shorthand, is a writing system used to record information quickly, using symbols and special characters instead of writing out whole words. Anyone can learn it, but it's specifically useful for court reporters, who transcribe court proceedings; journalists, for taking interview notes; and other professionals who need to record information rapidly, like executive assistants.
Overview of Learning Shorthand Online
There are free resources available online for learning shorthand. But first, you'll need to decide what kind you want to learn. Some common types are Gregg or Pitman. What kind you learn may also depend on your purpose. For example, Teeline is common for journalists. If you're interested in becoming a court reporter, you'll likely have to seek further education and get either a certificate or associate's degree through a program at a stenography or court reporter school.
List of Free Online Classes and Materials to Learn Stenography
- National Shorthand School
- Open Steno Project
- The Internet Archive: 1916 Gregg Shorthand Manual and Word and Sentence Drills for Gregg Shorthand
- YouTube: Shorthandly courses and more
Descriptions of Free Programs to Learn Stenography and Shorthand
National Shorthand School
This school, which is dedicated to providing resources on shorthand and typewriting, has lessons in Pitman shorthand. There are 26 lessons (available in PDF form) that explain how to write shorthand, feature exercises for practice, and have an answer key. It will take about two to six months to complete the lessons, with the result that students can write shorthand at 40 to 50 words per minute. With even more practice, students may be able to write as many as 80 words per minute.
Open Steno Project
The Open Steno Project was started specifically to make learning stenography free for everyone since classes are traditionally expensive. If you want to be a court reporter or stenographer, you'll need to practice with a stenography machine, which is what those professionals use. By downloading the open-source stenography program Plover, aspiring stenographers can learn the skill on their own, from their own computer. Users will still need a stenography machine, but this project is also dedicated to providing affordable options for beginners. For example, users can buy key caps that can be added to a computer keyboard, which are much cheaper than a stenography machine.
The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a nonprofit online library of books, movies, and more, including resources about shorthand. One resource is 'Word and Sentence Drills for Gregg Shorthand,' which has exercises for practicing the skill. Another is the 1916 Gregg Shorthand Manual, which demonstrates how to write shorthand with twenty lessons. Both books are available to read online, download as a PDF, or use with an e-reader.
YouTube has many shorthand tutorials and video courses. For example, Shorthandly has video series in Pitman and Gregg shorthand, as well as videos with exercises for practicing those methods. There are many other videos available on YouTube that are dedicated to the topic as well. A quick search can help you find what you're looking for.