What is steno?

 Stenography

The following are the direct links to the parts of my blog where I focus exclusively on  steno.  I assume that’s the reason why you’re here.  ..Or you’re here because you just want to look at the food that’s passed through my digestive system; that’s okay too.  Whatever it is, if you don’t know what stenography is all about, this is your chance to find out! 🙂

An entire word (and even a phrase) can be written out on this shorthand machine in one or two strokes.
So instead of using the QWERTY keyboard and writing the word “hello” by pressing 5 keys (h-e-l-l-o), this same word can be written out in just two strokes in steno: /HEL/OE
It’s all about phonetics and pressing certain keys down together simultaneously to make a word. It’s like playing a piano except with words!

Steno:  Using a shorthand machine to phonetically “type” (we actually call it ‘write’) what people say word for word.  Court reporters use this to transcribe everything that is said in a case into a transcript.  Those live captions that you see on TV? (that you always complain about being inaccurate because they misspelled a word or two? They’re actually really accurate; 98% accurate most the time. You just tend to dwell on the mistakes.) The captioner uses a steno machine to write these words on your screen (no, it’s not a robot that does it and voice recognition software will never get that good anyway).  Deaf and hard-of-hearing students may need the assistance of a stenographer (CART provider) to help them succeed in school.  To say the least, we’re VERY important people.  It’s unfortunate that not a lot of people know about this field and this amazing machine.

Try your hand at typing steno using your computer keyboard with this cool interactive website.  You can also read about my steno experiences below: 

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Here’s a 4-minute video that briefly explains how a steno machine is used in the courtrooms and a 81-second video that explains how a steno machine is different from a regular QWERTY keyboard.

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

If you have any questions, e-mail me!  Or comment below!  I love talking about steno!  I can talk about it all day if someone was interested enough. !! (See, look how many exclamation marks I just used. Wow, I need to calm down.)

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59 comments on “What is steno?

    • Woohoo! Thanks again for dropping by and browsing through my blog! Stenography is really such an amazing career path that lets you learn so much while on the job. So many people don’t know what it is that I just hope this page is informative enough to shed some light on the topic. Feel free to chat with your friends about it too!

      🙂

    • You know what, like with everything in life, it just takes practice. I started studying it in 2008 and it’s been… 6 years now (wow, even I didn’t realize that). Although I’m still learning and building my speed to this day, my response to steno has become so automatic that my fingers just write when I hear the words. You could become used to it too if you are serious about learning it. 🙂

      • 6 years! that’s quite the long time to be learning it. A silly question if I may? why not the regular keyboards? Or are those not accurate enough in hearings? 🙂

      • Well, it takes 6 months to learn the shorthand theory and then at least another 2 years to build up speed. The rest of the time is to perfect the writing. Think of it like a piano player — they are never done practicing. 🙂

        The regular keyboards are simply not fast enough to keep up with the speed at which people talk! On this steno keyboard, we ‘write’ phonetically what is being said. In one “stroke”, we can write out an entire word or phrase whereas on the QWERTY keyboard, one stroke only is one letter of a word. That’s how we can keep up with speakers of 225 wpm and higher! It’s all about being fast enough to stay on top of what everyone says to provide an accurate transcript. 🙂

      • Hey, wow, 180 on the QWERTY keyboard is actually incredibly impressive. Way to go! But yep, we have to hold high standards if we are to take down the record lol. We need to make sure there is accuracy and speed at all times! 🙂

      • What’s the record at now? is it 200+? the goal you’ve set? mmmm..come to think of it, what would be the ultimate prize if you break the record for fastest? 😀

      • Haha, the world record is actually at 360 wpm! It’s held by a very respected man who can steno amazingly well! I’ll be happy if I can get to 250 wpm in the next five years. 🙂 The ultimate prize would be to gain lots and lots of respect all around the world, especially from those that steno. 🙂

  1. I have ALWAYS wondered what the difference was between a normal typewriter and a stenograph! One of those question that just sat in the head but never got Googled. I shall watch the vid. 🙂

  2. so very fascinating I will have to check out the clips and referenced content with children at my early learning centre they are so amazed my the computer and type writer getting their minds and ideas around another literacy tool with a specific purpose and job will amaze them too I think they are into superheros and It would be nice to explore a community service that gets little expose of a second thought as helping out in the big wide world. Thanks for sharing your knowledge

  3. This was fascinating reading. Glad I clicked the link — I was here for the photo challenge. I learned shorthand when I was 17. Even though I wouldn’t have any speed today, it’s a bit like bicycling — you never forget.

  4. I am a verbatim reporter trainee in Nigeria and this is the first time such training is being held in my state I.e lagos state. Please can you recommend online sites where I can purchase a good dictionary that transcribes english words into steno forms.

    Thank you and sincerely look forward to your reply.

    • Hi there. There are many theories of steno out there (theories and outlines of learning how to write out the words). Phoenix Theory, the one I learned, is one of them. Is this what you mean by “type” of steno?

    • Are you currently learning steno? What theory are you using right now? If you can clarify your question, I’ll be able to better understand it and answer you. 🙂

  5. This is so cool, Karen. I still don’t get it (how u can type hello with 2 strokes instead of 5). I do type pretty fast but definitely not fast enough compared to you. U are too pro.

    • Haha, thank you, Grace. One day I’ll bring my steno machine to show you exactly how it works. Watch the steno video to see if it makes more sense. Basically, we’re combining all the sounds of a word onto a keyboard and sounding out a word to type it instead of typing out each letter.

      • I know, but I still don’t get it. lol for example, if I wanted to type “computer”

        And there’s 3 sounds to it, how do u know it will actually show up as COM PUT TER, because u don’t have the exact letters of the words?? It’s amazing how fast your brain can process so much. Omg.

      • I’ll explain to you sometime in person with more examples. The word “computer” would be written as “/KUPL/PAOUT/-R” in steno. I know that looks like gibberish to you, but those were the three strokes I used to “write” the word (each stroke was separated with the /). More commonly used words actually only take one stroke to write out (phrases like “thank you” or “ladies and gentlemen” only take one stroke to “write” out). After we learned how to write out the words in full, we learn to memorize the common words and write them out together as “/KPAOURT”. Again, I know that doesn’t mean anything to you… lol.

      • Omg that’s like a different language! And Karen, this is the first time I am using the phone to respond to a comment. It is so cool! I downloaded the WordPress app. Omg I am so amazed by technology (I know I am five years behind) haha. Have a safe flight later! Love u!

      • Thanks Grace. Yes, it is shorthand lol. Only people who have learned it can “read it”. 😛 Haha, you are so silly (and behind!) Thanks! Talk to you later!

    • I’m not exactly sure what you are trying to ask, but the steno machine has individual keys, a screen, stands on a tripod, and is connected to CAT software for transcription.

  6. Interesting to read about the steno machine. When I trained to be a secretary, ages ago, I learned stenography too (system Groote) , but written by hand. Afterwards we had to type out the manuscript, so much more work than using the machine.

  7. Wow! This is one of the best thing I’ve learnt about. All power to you, I just simply love the way you present the information to your audience.
    By the way, what’s your current record of stenotyping?

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