How to write faster – learn Teeline shorthand

Ambitious journalism student, Alex Cooper, introduces us to Teeline Shorthand with his debut guest post for Bad Language.

In this article I will go through the basic structure of Teeline Shorthand, a brief history and some tips for learning it along the way.

Teeline was invented by James Hill in 1970. It is aimed at a self-taught approach and a light learning load. Perfect for people with a busy lifestyle, like myself.

What exactly is Teeline? Teeline is a system of speed writing (shorthand) that uses the letters of the English alphabet already familiar to us and stream lines it.

Simply think of how teenagers write text messages, commonly called “text langauge” where I’m from. They remove the letters that are silent when sounding out a word, which are commonly vowels, for example hello is abbreviated to “hlo” and bye is shortened to “bi”. Depending on how the word sounds when spoken dictates what letters are written. Teeline works on a similar principal.

Here is a shorthand quote from the book Teeline Fast, written by Ann Dix.

“Tln is vry esy to lrn.

We shl go to Lndn nxt wk to do sm shpng.

It hs bn a brt and sny da tda.

Pls pt yr mny fr th tcts in th bx.”

If you are experienced in text messaging, this will be second nature to you already.

By now you’re probably thinking, what’s so special about Teeline? It’s just removing letters and writing words as they sound. This is just the start, Teeline uses the basic shapes of the English alphabet letters, but they are written with more flow and curves, which makes them easier to write when taken notes at high speed.

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The basics of the Teeline alphabet are simple. The shorthand version of the letter is written in the same position as its longhand counterpart when beginning a word, but as the word gets more complex following letters have to move with the flow of the previous letters.

When it comes to vowels, they are written smaller than constants and have two forms. The full vowel and the indicator. Vowels are eliminated unless they are the first letter of the word or the last letter. Commonly used words such as: like, the, we, be, me etc., can be abbreviated by one letter or one stroke. These are called “Special Outlines”.

When I first started researching shorthand I came across Pitman, a different flavour of shorthand. These are the two main reasons I opted for Teeline and not Pitman:

  1. Pitman was not advertised as a self-study approach unlike Teeline.
  2. Pitman uses different stroke sizes and shades. Originally designed to be written with a fountain pen. I don’t use a fountain pen.

Tips for learning shorthand:

  1. Don’t try to write fast at first. Speed will come with experience.
  2. Practise every day. Its more productive to spend 30 minutes a day practising rather than 2 hours a week.
  3. Use a comfortable pen that flows freely on the page and won’t leak ink everywhere. A sharp pencil can be used as well.

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27 Responses to How to write faster – learn Teeline shorthand

  1. Peter February 8, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    I tried to learn Teeline once. It certainly has a much better effort–reward ratio than Pitman (until you reach the really advanced levels), but I never reached the point where Teeline offered much benefit. If I was, say, a full-time student taking copious lecture notes I might have improved quickly, but I do most of my writing at a keyboard, so touch typing is the most useful skill for me.

    if i rly ndd t spd thngs up i wd prctc usng Tln abrvtns whn typng.

    • Matthew Stibbe February 8, 2010 at 6:35 am #

      Agreed. I never learned shorthand but spending the time to learn touchtyping pays endless dividends. I was taught by ferocious nuns when I was 18 but there are kinder, easier ways to do it. (Don’t ask, it’s a long story! :) )

  2. Eric Worrall March 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I think the tablet-PC manufacturers like HP and Apple should get behind Teeline and other forms of shorthand as a natural input method for their devices. Most documents are now typed and our handwriting skills are used mainly for taking notes. If the uses for handwriting have been refocused for a specific task (note taking) then our skills investment should also be refocused (e.g. learn shorthand in school rather than longhand). New fashionable devices like the iPad are useful catalyst in this process. If the next version of the iPad recognised Teeline natively, then many more people would learn it and the clear benefits of shorthand would be brought to light.

    • Matthew Stibbe March 2, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

      That sounds like a good idea. I suspect, though, that Apple is wary of handwriting recognition (of any kind) after the whole Newton debacle. Hence the big keyboard and no stylus. Matthew

      • justice fia June 19, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

        how will i start

  3. Adam Fidler June 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    i-Pads recognising Teeline Shorthand… it’ll never happen. People have tried previously to create systems where WRITTEN shorthand is translated automatically into typed text on a PC. Unfortunately, the complexities of even a logical shorthand system like Teeline are far too great for a PC to understand. The beauty of Teeline is that there are many ways to write an outline (an outline is a word written in Teeline), and Teeline also takes the natural shape/flow of someone’s handwriting – how would a PC recognise all that unless the writer were forced to write Teeline in a consistent way? Even Pitman shorthand, which fell out of favour because it was too rigid and could only be written in one way, wouldn’t work with computer aided transcription. Shorthand is too fidly and ‘short’ for a PC to recognise it – that’s the whole point – it’s quick and easy to write. Moreover, in shorthand, one outline can mean more than one word – so the context of the sentence tells you which word it is. Computers don’t understand ‘context’, so they couldn’t distinguish, for instance, between a sentence which was “I was amuzed at that” when it should be “I was amazed at that”. There are systems used in court reporting, such as Palantype, which provided real-time transcription – as the stenographer ‘types’ the shorthand words (using a special keyboard), the system transcribes them automatically into long-hand. But, for that to work in an office or ‘on the move’ would require the shorthand writer to carry round with them their special keyboard and system. You can’t beat the fluency of a shorthand writer, with a pad and pencil – and their ability to transcribe at 100% accuracy straight afterwards. It’s an art in itself – believe me, I’ve done it. I got 140 wpm in Teeline shorthand, and have used it every single day for the last 17 years. So, I would certainly recommend it – it’s as valuable today as it ever was. I won’t hold my breath though for the i-Pads or i-Phones that can transcribe WRITTEN shorthand!

  4. Suzain Khan June 15, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    I think the tablet-PC manufacturers like HP and Apple should get behind Teeline and other forms of shorthand as a natural input method for their devices. Most documents are now typed and our handwriting skills are used mainly for taking notes. If the uses for handwriting have been refocused for a specific task (note taking) then our skills investment should also be refocused (e.g. learn shorthand in school rather than longhand). New fashionable devices like the iPad are useful catalyst in this process. If the next version of the iPad recognised Teeline natively, then many more people would learn it and the clear benefits of shorthand would be brought to light.

  5. anna August 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I’ve always found teeline very useful, good to see it getting some exposure, I wish the iphone would utilise it.

  6. Stuart Steedman January 28, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I investigated learning Teeline shorthand at University, and wrote all my statistics notes in it. At the end of term it was far too much effort to try to read them, and I got the lowest grade of all my courses…

    I learned to touch-type in 1995, when I realised it would be a useful skill for a programmer, and so nowadays my handwriting is terrible and I find it very frustrating to have to slow down to make it more legible – that’s why I found myself here today. So I’ll be giving Teeline another try and see if it can become second nature…

    Also, have looked into one handed typing – useful for when you use the mouse a lot…

    • Matthew Stibbe January 28, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      I learned to type early in life and my university final exams were a real struggle after years of typing. But what really screwed my handwriting was years of Palm Pilot use and its handwriting recognition which required block capitals.

  7. DEVENDER BISHNOI October 28, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    Plz guide me how to easily Learn.

  8. Nemo December 13, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    What people have to understand, is that A five or six year old learning to write will have trouble reading things too. And when you first learn any shorthand, that’s what you are like. The only way to get proficient at it is to practice it obviously, but also to use it. The only time I use longhand anymore is when typing. If I’m writing, then I’m using shorthand and believe me after a while two things will become clear. 1, You will start writing it faster simply because of repetition. And 2, you will start seeing the words. You already recognize your own handwriting, and after a while you will just recognize what you wrote. It just takes time. When you first learned to read and write as a child, how long did it take you to be able to read and write without hesitation? Just my thoughts…. On a side note, I write with a Gregg/Teeline hybrid that I came up with when I was learning, along with my own set of rules. (It was just easier and made more since for me) but now anytime that I even try to write in longhand, my hand reverts right back into the shorthand. I found that out at the BMV I had to pause and think how to write in longhand….

  9. Anonymous January 27, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Hi, I’m 14 years old and I’ve been learning Teeline for about 6 weeks with pretty good success. I’m at 60 WPM (faster than regular writing) and I’ve pretty much learned it for free. I know I could have learned it much faster if I bought a book, but I’m still pretty happy with how far I’ve gotten. If you want to see the manual I used, its here: http://www.scribd.com/saimu0/d/9436925-Teeline-Complete. It’s pretty good, but when you finish you’ll likely only be at 30 WPM. To build speed, you can start here: http://teeline.weebly.com. It won’t get you all the way to 100 WPM just by itself, but I think there are enough resources if you look through the whole internet!

  10. sarah lonerd February 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    oh thanks a lot, now am traing to learn a shorthand, woh its very well,

  11. liz cray February 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Hi there – thank you for linking to our site Teeline Online – we have had some small changes (courtesy of those wonderful microsoft people!) and have had to make a change to our website. Would you be kind enough to change the link to Teeline Shorthand (Teeline Online) to http://www.teelineshorthand.org

    Thank you very much for your linking.

    Kind regards.

    Teeline Online

  12. kirubasree August 10, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    Its so easy to learn by means of you…I am obliged and gratitude so much.than u jii

  13. Alicja December 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    I like the idea of encouraging children learn Teeline in schools, it would certainly help with note taking prior to exams in later life, longhand is tedious and your hands can get cramp as well far faster than with writing shorthand. Brilliant idea! There are bound to be some kids that would be fascinated by learning something like shorthand – can you imagine a young child doing speeds of 100wpm plus? I certainly can!
    I think it should be put on the curriculum as an optional choice!!

  14. Alicja December 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Someone should create a Teeline Shorthand magazine NOW as there once was something called Pitman 2000! I bought hundreds of them when I first started work!! We need to have something to keep our minds focused because I cannot find any new books on the topic at all apart from the normal stuff on Amazon. I think asking for £70+ for a Teeline Speed Ladder book published quite a while ago is ridiculous but it is that!

  15. Steve Whitbread December 8, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I’m another of those former users of Pitmanscript, but one who also used a tablet in the previous decade.

    Having set up my partner’s new iPad and – despite Apple’s stylus input antipathy – installed apps such as MyScript Memo (which not only converts written English et al to text but handles Arabic and Chinese characters brilliantly too) we can’t be very far away from apps that will be more than capable of converting shorthand into text. Within 2 years with any luck.

    That should add hugely to the value of learning T-line (as the most obvious system to adopt) and to the numbers of people that do, not least to students and other note-takers, who want rapid input and immediately useable and useful output.

  16. Sean Matthews March 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I did my Teeline shorthand with an online course, http://www.teelineonline.com

    Great it was too. Taught by a Teeline university lecture with proper lessons and interaction and everything. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a grounding in Teeline.

  17. rahul May 9, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    SHORTHAND langue s are very simple and easy to learn and write

  18. Mahi June 13, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    I want to learn Teeline shorthand, what is the procedure and in how much time i will be able to write in teeline?

  19. anju July 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    i am already learning shorthand but pls tell me how to increase unseen passage speed… please help me how will able to

  20. Pat September 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    While I lived in London (UK) I kept my shorthand ticking over by attending live dictation readings given by the Incorporated Phonographic Society from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm at the Bishopsgate Institute on Thursday evenings in term time, so if anybody in the London area wants to get their speeds back or keep them going, or hopefully increase them, it is worth toddling along. The first time anybody attends is free as it’s a taster – if people decide they like it and attend further sessions there is a small charge (to help cover the hire of the room). The society’s website is http://www.the-ips.org.uk/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] It’s not just for court clerks or secretaries. Shorthand is still relevant especially when you’re listening to a speaker who talks fast (try using a tablet for that). It may appear daunting at first, but like learning typewriting skill, shorthand is easy to learn with enough commitment. Here’s a good advice on how to start learning shorthand fast. […]

  2. Shorthand: Used to record speech before the invention of audio recording by Lesley Hebert | Humanities 360 - January 11, 2014

    […] Teeline, invented by James Hill in 1970, it easier than both Pitman and Gregg. Its symbols are based on simplified forms of alphabet letters which are used to write abbreviated words like those used in alphabetic systems such as Speedwriting. […]

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