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    Clickable dictation at various speeds is available at the bottom of this page. The transcript of the dictation appears here as well.

    I always enjoy taking dictation about building shorthand speed. This piece, and a few which follow, will do just that. Yes, some of the language is a bit stilted and I brought the puncutation up to date. But the advice is relatively sound although, since it's from a Pitman book, is meant for Pitman writers. Writers of other systems may not have to practice "correct forms," because there probably won't be more than one way to represent certain sounds. That means writers of other systems won't have to "memorize" the correct shorthand outline.

Shorthand Instructor, Pitman’s Shorthand, Isaac Pitman, 1905, p. 209-210

Chapter XXXVI.  Legal Forms
          A law stenographer must possess expertness in writing and reading shorthand.  This can only be attained by regular and prolonged practice.  Knowledge of correct phonographic outlines is not, alone, sufficient.  Such a one must understand the meaning of the subject-matter reported.  This conduces to speed of writing and is absolutely necessary to impromptu reading of rapidly written notes.
          While writing from dictation is the most practicable method of gaining stenographic speed, yet the learner should not restrict himself to that.  He should attempt to report all kinds of human utterances:  speeches, sermons, public meetings, judicial proceedings, conversations, etc.   
          The best rate of dictation is that which forces the writer to the highest speed at which distinct outlines can be formed.  When following a speaker, for practice, writing beyond legible speed should not be tried.  Better omit portions than strive to catch every word and thereby risk acquiring a sprawling style of shorthand.
          Small characters, compactly written, are preferable to their opposites, are easier to read, and conduce to speed.
          Practice notes should be transcribed and the transcript carefully compared with the original when possible.  All shorthand made by the learner should be repeatedly read, doubtful outlines assiduously studied and deciphered, and erroneous ones corrected and memorized.
          Law stenographers, especially those employed in court before juries, should be able to instantly refer to, and read without balk or hitch, any part of the notes of a trial.  Sometimes it is necessary to read to the jury large portions of hastily written notes of testimony.

For more information on shorthand speed building, click here.

Instructions for Self-Dictation Practice:
    Copy and paste the above article into a word-processing document, using double or triple spacing and 12- or 14-pitch type.
    As always, be sure to check your shorthand dictionary for correct outlines before "drilling"!

Dictation Practice:
    Note that the material was counted and recorded for dictation at 100; all other speeds were copied from the 100 take and electronically adjusted and may therefore sound unusual.

60 wpm 80 wpm 100 wpm 120 wpm 140 wpm

The dictation material above is copyrighted, all rights reserved.

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Gregg Shorthand Pitman Shorthand Speedwriting Shorthand