Speed Tips

"The fastest and surest way to become a high-speed writer is to make ACCURACY your first and foremost priority. Speed is a natural, logical result of creating ACCURATE automatic responses. Accuracy is NOT a natural, logical result of increased speed." - Speed Building Tips by Carol Joachim

Acquiring Speed Depends on Many Factors

All skills break down into elemental parts. Mastery of performance results from the individual mastery of these parts.

Own your notes. Effective shorthand is dependent on your ability to think quickly. One needs immediate recall of outlines so that they can be written without hesitation.

Think-writing is a good exercise.
'Think-Writing' is a good exercise.

This starts with revision of theory. In addition to going through the LLTT Beginner's Series again, grab your theory book of choice and flag all pages that are unclear. Dedicate a minute or two each day to revision. Keep working on your revision until you know it backwards and forwards.  

Not all outlines will be written at the same speed. It is normal to write some words more slowly as they are more difficult to remember.  While you should accept you will not write all outlines at the same speed, this does not mean that difficult outlines cannot be improved.

While we are on the topic, practising daily is the key to success, but it's best to break it into shorter periods of time.  If you have an hour a day, then four fifteen-minute sessions are worth more than one sixty-minute session as it is hard to sustain focus over longer periods.  Yesterday's lessons will soon be forgotten unless you move it from short-term memory to long term.  Consistency is the only way to do this. Repetition will reduce your thinking time and increase your speed.

If something isn’t working for you, fix it. Ultimately, you decide which outlines to use.  

With respect to dictation, clarity first, then speed, for notes you cannot read are worthless. Maintain good proportion of your letters to one another. It is axiomatic that to write fast, you must first learn to write well slow.  

Thorough knowledge of both word groupings and special outlines are a tremendous aid in increasing your speed.

As strange as it sounds, the urge to "stop and think" must be resisted at all costs if one is to progress to the next 10 wpm of speed.

Read plenty of Teeline.  Unusual words may cause uncertainty and/or hesitation and momentarily break concentration during a dictation. To combat this, students should read widely to limit this difficulty. Additionally, it is helpful to trace over the outlines with a pen or pencil to get a "feel" for them. This can be especially helpful to beginning students while listening to a dictation. This will help develop your written fluency, for the faster you can read it back, the faster you will be able to write it.

Read until fluent.
Read until fluent.

You will help your progress immeasurably if you transcribe your own notes frequently. From time to time, it's also useful to read notes you made several days ago. If you can read these "cold notes," there is nothing wrong with your Teeline.

Transcription is the acid test.
Transcription is the acid test.

When it comes to dictation, it's best to listen to a variety of voices if you can.

If you struggle with concentration, try turning the volume of your audio source DOWN. While this sounds counterintuitive, making it slightly "harder" to hear a particular passage can actually INCREASE your focus and concentration.

Distortion is normal.
Distortion is normal.

Simplifying existing outlines. Over time, it is beneficial to develop the ability to further shorten outlines sufficiently. Take the outline for "I must point out." Rather than writing a full outline for "point," that word can be simplified to a single "dot" as follows:


Note: This one strategy can be used extensively, as in "There is no point," "Your point of view," "Straight to the point," etc.

Incidentally, it is not a crime if a longer or shorter outline is written than that suggested in your textbook. "Something for everything' is a good rule (in other words, an outline or part of an outline) for every word dictated; a gap in your notes indicates nothing, whereas even the first letter of a word can give a clue when read back in context.

Remember:  "Great things never come from comfort zones." Most deeply satisfying achievements take a long time to achieve and progress can be slower than most of us would like. Everyone wants to know things, but not everyone is willing to put in the time to do so.

Embrace the journey. If you have a worthwhile goal, you have every reason to start on your road to mastery now. If you resist, however, then you'll always be looking for a shortcut. Don't.

When you hit a dip (as we all do), keep going. Pick yourself up and try again. The universe is testing you and your resolve to learn a "language" that is both maddening and frustratingly beautiful. There is no shorter way to excellence than through the Valley of Disappointment. Don't die there.


"Think-Writing," "Reading Until Fluent," "Transcription" and "Distortion" as noted above are attributable to Harry Butler's "Building to High Speed."

A short unknown word can cause the writer much more hesitation than a very long but familiar word. A familiar word used in an unexpected sense can also cause hesitation. The aim of the shorthand writer must, therefore, be constantly to reduce the number of "unknowns." The very act of taking notes from the spoken word will help to enlarge the vocabulary, but in addition he should read widely and observe carefully any new word that meets his eye. The new word should be jotted down in a little notebook kept for the purpose, and its spelling, meaning, and shorthand outline memorized. No one's education is ever complete in this respect for words may be used tomorrow that no one has thought of today. New words are coined to meet new situations, and in this respect we continue to be pupils throughout life. - From the Speed Writer's Point of View by Emily D. Smith
"If I would have learned the words, I would have removed the hesitation. And if I had removed the hesitation, I would have had time to write more words. And if I would have had time to write more words, then in effect, I would have increased the number of words that I could write per minute. That translates into a speed gain without having to move my hands any faster." - Stephen Shastay
Of course, there will be times when it will be necessary for you to pause and quickly think how to write an outline for a word, especially if it is a new one. This is by no means unusual. Taking these passages meant that you were learning to familiarize yourself with thinking quickly and coping with unexpected words, which is what a shorthand writer is always having to do. - Harry Butler