How to learn shorthand in six weeks


Here it is, the shorthand post I’ve been promising! As you may recall, I’ve already posted about shorthand, ten days after starting the course. Now here we are, six short weeks into the course, and we’re finishing the theory of Teeline this week. Yes, that’s right, by Friday we’ll know all there is to know about Teeline shorthand! That doesn’t mean we’re finishing Teeline forever though – far from it, in fact. Next up is speed building. If we’re ever going to get our 60wpm in a few weeks, we need to practice, practice, practice… and then there’s the highly intimidating 100wpm a couple of weeks later. Frightening.

Anyway, let me show you what our first task was:

Most of the Teeline shorthand alphabet

Yep, this is (most of) the alphabet in Teeline! As you can see, it’s largely based on the standard alphabet, and I’m sure you can work out most of these letters. Our first task was to drill the alphabet. Drilling is a concept you have to become very familar with when you learn shorthand… seems easy when you’re at this stage. Less so three quarters of the way through the theory, when suddenly there are lines everywhere, looping and intersecting and doing all sorts. But that’s for later! Next up, you’ll be learning to put together letters to make words:


 Most of the time, apart from at the beginning of words, and when a vowel sound is strong at the end of a word, vowels are omitted, leaving only consonants. Here, we have words such as ‘tell -> tl’, ‘atom -> atm’ and ‘tough -> tf’. On this note, although most of Teeline is based on the alphabet, you find the odd rule where it is phonetically based, such as the ‘gh’ of ‘tough’ becoming ‘f’.

 After this, you’ll be dealing with simple word groupings:


These are fairly easy to understand: just like cursive handwriting, the outlines for individual words are just joined together, one after the other. This happens when words frequently appear together, such as ‘we will’, ‘it is’, ‘you are’… but some word groupings don’t necessarily reflect the entire words you’ll be putting together, for the sake of speed. These are special outlines, and are basically abbreviated versions of common phrases:


For example, for ‘a lot of’, you just write a little ‘l’ hanging off the line. For ‘ladies and gentlemen’, the special outline is an ‘lg’. Obviously cutting out ‘adies and entlemen’ massively cuts down the time it takes to write the phrase. These just need to be learnt by drilling them over and over again, until it becomes second nature to use the special outline rather than writing out the words in full.

At some point, you’ll start speed building exercises. If you use the Marie Cartwright book, there’s a CD included with dictation exercises. Here’s an example of what you’ll be doing:


The 40, 50, 60 in the margins reflect the speed at which this passage has been written. The key is to practice at each speed until you’re comfortable, and then move up to the next speed, to get your hand used to writing at a certain speed, and to get your brain capable of recalling the outlines you’re familiar with comfortably. The outline in the margin is because there’s one particularly unclear outline in that line, so I cleaned it up in the margin so it’s legible when I come to read it back at a later date.

 The part we’ve all enjoyed has been the DR and TR blends (this won’t mean a lot, but bear with me): 

Blends are another way to speed up your shorthand. To avoid creating awkward shapes, which slow you down, you can cut out tricky parts of individual letters to create smoother, easier outlines. Some of these blends may involve one long line representing three letters (such as THR), which obviously speeds things up enormously. 

This is what my shorthand looks like now, at unit 17 out of 20 units:


Admittedly, this probably looks very similar to some of my earlier shorthand. I promise there are significant differences though! Even though they look quite subtle, they change the way you write shorthand quite dramatically. Prefixes and suffixes are added, the blends give you access to entire new categories of words, and to be honest, the word groupings and special outlines become insane.

I can’t say that any of us felt too confident at the start, when our class described their feelings towards shorthand as ‘apprehensive’, ‘worried’ and ‘concerned’, and we all felt we’d never be capable of what we can do now. This post is really just to say, keep at it, it WILL become clear and you WILL learn it, as long as you remember to drill all the special outlines and word groupings, and just keep at the dictation exercises to build up your speed!

 Good luck on your Teeline journeys, and I hope this has been useful, or at the very least reassuring, if you’re worrying about how on earth you’ll learn it all. I hope you now believe it’s possible to learn shorthand in six weeks! 



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Just…wow!…It looks like hieroglyphs!

    Hmmm…may have to start convincing folk that my handwriting isn’t really bad, it’s just written in shorthand haha.

    1. Hahaha, my shorthand is honestly so much neater than my normal handwriting! It looks so odd, and once you put words together it can be tricky to see exactly how it is based on the alphabet, but apparently Teeline is one of the easiest forms of shorthand to learn, if you’re thinking about learning!

  2. Dev Arbikshe says:

    What about Pittman shorthand method? Is it possible to achieve a speed of 140 words per minute in 2 months ? Please do tell if you have any idea. I am in a fix , have limited time and need it for a job i have been waiting for forever!

  3. asim khan says:

    i wanna learn shorthand could u plz tell how long time will it take to learn shorthand and give me number of short hand tutor….plz cl me on this no.8750608109

  4. DIPANKAR DAS says:




    1. Hi Rajesh!

      Learning English shorthand would probably be quite difficult without a good level of English in the first place as you have to be able to convert some pretty complex phrases into short symbols and it gets fast very quickly (it’s hard enough for a native speaker!), but it may be possible to learn shorthand in Hindi?

      Or if you’re really keen to learn in English, I really recommend this book:

      Good luck! 🙂

  6. sachin jangir says:

    I have only 2 month time, how can I learn English shorthand. Please suggest me your valuable suggestion.

    1. Hello! I recommend this Marie Cartwright book – there’s a CD included to help you practise writing shorthand at speed 🙂 Good luck!

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