Short forms can be a very divisive issue. Some reporters love them, some hate them. A lot of people say it takes longer to recall the short form than it does to write out the word. And in some cases that’s true. On a forum, I recently saw someone give short forms for “introvert” and “extrovert”. According to my dictionary, I haven’t even written introvert since 2006! But my approach to short forms is somewhat different.
I’m going to explain my approach, but I’m not going to give any steno/palan forms for these. You need to make them up yourself for them to make sense to you. It always kills any short form conversation stone dead, when someone says “oh I use that for ‘constituent’”, and can’t see past it to think of another.
A few years ago I wanted to be able to write fewer strokes. Not faster, but fewer strokes, in order to be able to write for longer periods but be less tired. I started thinking about phrases, how a lot of words always come together, but we weren’t taught short forms for them.
I’m going to start with verbs that always go with particular prepositions, with different forms of the verb, and sometimes adding the. They make a little family of short forms.
First example: Talk About. Always together, isn’t it? What about a short form for that? But that only saves one stroke, I hear you cry. Well yes, but it might save you one stroke many times a day. And then we move on to its family. Talking about. That’s saving two strokes. Talk about the. Saving one or two strokes. Talking about the. Saving two or three strokes. Giving you plenty of time to fingerspell that Russian name that just came out of nowhere!
Similar families are:
I’m sure you can think of loads more. What I have found most useful about this method is the fact that by using any of the entries in a family, you remind yourself of all of them, therefore they’re more likely to become part of your dictionary in a quicker time.
If you’re still stuck for actual outlines, my advice would be to incorporate the first letters of each word if possible (this is the principle Auto-Brief is based on), and use the less popular vowel sounds (AU, OEU and OU) if you can. Or just use the left side so you can add “-ing” and “the” easily. And keep it simple. Fewer keys, fewer mis-hits.
Claire started her steno training at Smith Bernal (now DTI Global) in 1994, started working in court in 1995 and attained Accredited LiveNote Reporter status in 1996.
Since becoming freelance in 2004, she has broadened her competences to include all the areas where verbatim realtime reporting can be used.