PAGE DATE 27 April 2012
Numerals are
already a form of shorthand, and should be used wherever they are
faster or more legible. They are sometimes called Arabic numerals
to distinguish them from Roman numerals (e.g. MCMXII). Numeral (or
figure) refers to the written sign, number refers to the
mathematical concept, although in normal conversation the word
"number" covers everything.

1 2 3  these are called "cardinal" numbers
(from Latin "cardo" meaning hinge/pivot, hence pivotal,
fundamental, main).
 1st, 2nd, 3rd (first, second, third)  these are called
"ordinal" as they specify the order or position in a series.
In the captions to the shorthand examples, I have
given the numbers in longhand words, as that is a more
accurate rendering of what someone might say, especially as there
are often several ways to speak a number:
1902 =
"one thousand nine hundred and two" (amount)
"nineteen hundred and two (amount or date)
"nineteen oh
two" (date)
"one nine oh two" or "one nine zero two" (reference or
identity e.g. file, phone, house)
100 = hundred, a hundred, one hundred, one oh oh,
one zero zero, one double zero
Your transcription of dictated numbers will vary
depending on the context of the piece. Small numbers and round
larger numbers within a narrative are better transcribed as words
e.g. five houses, twenty letters, a hundred people, a million trees.
Precise amounts are generally clearer as numerals e.g. "we received
1,686 letters" or "We improved by 20% last year." A longhand
sentence should never start with a numeral. The following website
summarises the rules:
www.dailywritingtips.com/10rulesforwritingnumbersandnumerals/
This page only deals with what shorthand you
should write for reliability. Your shorthand notes do not need to
reflect normal usage in longhand, but the outlines or numerals must be clear, as context
cannot help you retrieve them from your notes if there is any
ambiguity or clash of shapes.
CONTENTS
Table of outlines
Improve your numerals
Use shorthand outline
Use numeral
Distinguishing sets
Number contractions
Long slash
Percent
"Or" pairs
Currency
Fractions
Decimals
Time
Powers
Dates
Additional vocabulary
Table of Outlines
Outlines shaded pink = avoid
outline, use numeral
Outlines shaded green =
always use when alone
* = Alternative contraction available
Longhand 
Numeral 

Ordinal 

one 
1 
Use outline when alone (numeral looks
like "it" "do" and many others) 
first
firstly 

two 
2 

second
secondly 

three 
3 

third
thirdly 

four 
4 

fourth 

five 
5 

fifth 

six 
6 
Use outline when alone (numeral looks like "this"
"this is" or "it is" 
sixth 
Use outline when alone (numeral looks
like "this" "this is" or "it is") 
seven 
7 

seventh 

eight 
8 
Avoid outline, use numeral (clashes with numeral
1 and other outlines when unvocalised) 
eighth
Although there is only one letter T in the longhand, the T and TH
sounds are both pronounced i.e. eightth 
Avoid outline (clashes
with "eightieth" when unvocalised) 
nine 
9 

ninth 

ten 
10 
Always vocalise, so it does not
resemble "eighteen". See also
Distinguishing sets below 
tenth 
Always vocalise, so it does not
resemble "eighteenth" 
eleven 
11 

eleventh 

twelve 
12 

twelfth 

thirteen 
13 

thirteenth 

fourteen 
14 

fourteenth 

fifteen 
15 

fifteenth 

sixteen 
16 

sixteenth 

seventeen 
17 

seventeenth 

eighteen 
18 
Avoid outline, use numeral (clashes with ten when
unvocalised) 
eighteenth 
Avoid outline (clashes
with tenth when unvocalised) 
nineteen 
19 

nineteenth 

twenty 
20 

twentieth 

thirty 
30 

thirtieth 

forty 
40 

fortieth 

fifty 
50 

fiftieth 
The second Eff is not halved for T,
because it would resemble "fifth" 
sixty 
60 

sixtieth 

seventy 
70 

seventieth 
The En is not halved for T,
because it would resemble "seventh" 
eighty 
80 
Avoid outline, use numeral (clashes with numeral
1 when unvocalised) 
eightieth 
Avoid outline, use numeral (clashes
with outline for eighth when unvocalised) 
ninety 
90 

ninetieth 
The second En is not halved for T,
because it would resemble "ninth" 
hundred* 
100 

hundredth* 

thousand* 
1 000 

thousandth* 

million* 
1 000 000 

millionth* 

billion* 
variable 

billionth* 

trillion 
variable 

trillionth 

milliard 
variable 



billiard 
variable 



Keep to either numerals
or shorthand when writing a particular number, don't mix them together:
one hundred, one hundred, one hundred
Which you is use is a
matter of speed and reliability in reading back, and you should not
hesitate to write numerals if the outlines do not come readily to
mind. If necessary write a wavy line underneath a numeral to remind
you that it is not a shorthand outline.
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Improve your
numerals
Examine carefully and critically how you normally write
numerals and
see if you can streamline them for shorthand purposes. The
suggestions below remove unnecessary
movements and maintain reliability against deterioration under
pressure of speed. The finishing tails, whether upward or downward, should be written with a quick flick, as their length is
not important. Joining up the circles i.e. 0 6 8 is unnecessary
and slows you down.
These are for shorthand
purposes, and you may prefer to revert to your usual versions for
longhand that will be read by others.
1 

Vertical line only. Omit any top tick and horizontal base line,
although these are useful if you are going back over your notes and
need to clarify the numerals. 
2 

Keep the neck straight as it descends, with no anticlockwise curve
on the lower part, and the base line straight 
3 

Start the top horizontal, with no initial curl.
Flatten out the lower curve into a shallow tail, to minimise
backward movement. 
4 

Start with a vertical, not backwards
sloping, line. Write the last vertical line
as near as possible to the end of the horizontal one. 
5 

Write in one piece, i.e. do not go back and put the
top on afterwards. Flatten out the lower curve into a shallow tail
to minimise backward movement. Maintain the top angle and horizontal
line so that it does not look like letter S. It is quicker to start at the bottom
as this reduces backwards movement, but ease of writing upwards will depend on the quality of your nib and
paper. 
6 

Keep compact, not tall, with the lower circle squat and wide, to prevent it looking like
the outline "this" or "this is". Even so, when six is alone, the
shorthand outline should be used instead of the numeral. 
7 

Keep the downstroke at
the same angle as stroke Chay, to minimise backward movement. No need
for any crossbar, or little extra tick on the top line. 
8 

Make the last upward stroke a straight line, flick it
upwards with no attempt to stop at, or join it to, the starting point. 
9 

Write 9 with an anticlockwise circle starting at top
right and then make the angle for the downward stroke. Aim to give it a
"balloon on a stick" shape, which does not resemble any shorthand
outline. Keep the sharp angled part high up, so that even if the
circle is not closed, the shape does not begin to look like a 4. If you wrote
the whole in one sweeping anticlockwise curve, it
would look too much like a shorthand outline. 
0 

A narrow circle is quicker to write than a perfect
geometric circle. There are two ways to prevent it looking like a 6:
(a) Start anticlockwise from the top. Finish with a final flick
upwards, aiming to end the line higher than the
starting point. The line will then either join up or end over the
top, but it will be safe from turning into a 6.
(b) Start from the bottom and write anticlockwise. Finish lower
than the starting point, so that it does not end up like a 9.
With either way, the final flick can go beyond the starting
point slightly without detriment.
To differentiate between a numerical 0 and an alphabetic letter
O:
0 = zero, nought = use the traditional "slashed zero" that has a
forward leaning solidus written inside it.
O = alphabet letter = You could put the little hyphen mark
underneath, as you normally do for an initial capital letter.
Differentiation is helpful for a reference or
label but not necessary in a name:
Mr O Jones' reference is oh eye ay one zero five (OIA105) 
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Use shorthand
outline for:
(a) Single numbers 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 9
(not 8)
We have two offices, three vans and nine employees.
Take two pounds of flour, three eggs and four cups of water.
dancing the twostep, twoseater sofa, dressed up to the nines
People came in two's* and threes.
He is all at sixes and sevens.
*Apostrophe keeps the longhand readable
We live in Sevenoaks. Fourth of July celebrations
The restaurant is called Seventh Heaven.
(b) Generalised and
round amounts used in
narrative text, as one shorthand outline is better than using two
numerals:
There were fifty people at the meeting. Several hundred people
answered.
thousands of animals, tens of
thousands of stars, thanks a million
not a million miles from here
Thousand Island dressing, the Roaring Forties
fiftiesstyle
clothes,
oversixties club
She is in her twenties. One part per million
The old English county division was called a Hundred.
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Use
numeral for:
Amounts greater than
single
figures, and which are not rounded amounts as above, are quicker
and clearer to write in numerals,
rather than a pair of outlines:
We sold twentyfive cars and ninetynine bikes.
Five
thousand four hundred and twentythree members came to the meeting.
8 80,
8th 80th Use numerals, as the pairs of shorthand
outlines are identical when vowels are omitted. Also the outlines for eight and eighty are identical to
numeral one and "it" "do" and other words using this
single stroke:
I have it, I have one, I have eight, I have eighty
On the eighth of January he celebrates his eightieth birthday.
One computer, eight laptops and eighty mobile phones
figure of eight, pieces of eight, an eightpart series
Exception: see
8 and 10
in phrases below
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Distinguishing sets
Ten, 18, tenth, 18th
Ten and tenth are reasonably common words, as our
counting system is based on tens, and it is quicker to use the shorthand for that, as long
as you always vocalise them and use numerals for eighteen and eighteenth:
ten boys and eighteen girls
His tenth birthday is on the eighteenth of the month.
6, Ith used for
thousands/thousandths, Dee used for dollars – Always use shorthand for a lone six. – Ith+Circle S for thousands: keep the curve shallow and the circle small. – Dee for dollars: keep the stroke straight. – Bee for billionths: keep the stroke straight.
six, fiftysix, five thousandths, five dollars,
five days, five billionths
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Number Contractions
En = hundred/hundredth
Ith =
thousand/thousandth
Em = million/millionth
Bee = billion/billionth
The contractions
are used with numerals to avoid writing a succession of zeros:
one
hundred, two thousand, three million, four billion
ten
million four hundred and three, eight
thousand and four
Don't use the
contractions with shorthand outlines:
three thousand
six
hundred
The same contractions
are used for the ordinal numbers, and it is clear what is meant
because of the S on the end:
five
hundredths, seven millionths, eight billionths
but six
thousandths is clearer due to the similarity
of the numeral and the Ith+s.
Don't add an extra Ith
stroke onto the contraction for the "th" part of the ordinal number, as that stroke is
already used for thousand. If you think the contraction is not clear
enough for ordinals, e.g. when there is no "s" on the end, then use the full shorthand outlines:
one hundredth, one thousandth, one millionth, one billionth
seven millionths
Insert the vowel in
"ounces" so that it does not get read as "hundredths":
seventysix
hundredths, seventysix ounces
The contractions can be joined to
each other:
nine
hundred thousand, nine hundred million, nine thousand million
Join
the next outline if convenient:
nine
thousand members, seven hundred people, one hundred plus, two hundred
words,
three hundred yards
IF using Ith for month,
ensure it is clearly intersected or in full:
two hundredthousandths, two hundred months
If the number has no
zeros to avoid, then all numerals are better, you don't need
to insert any contraction:
Eight
thousand seven hundred and twentysix visitors came to the park.
If there is a pause,
you might find you have written numeral 8 and an Ith, and then
realise it would have been better to use all numerals. Leave a leave
a slight gap and continue to write the remaining numerals. If you close the
gap the Ith will not stand out as being a stroke rather than a
numeral such as 1 or 6.
Use the following for st
and rd after numerals. This is following the hybrid longhand
convention, and it is probably more legible to just use the proper
shorthand outlines for all of it:
21st, 23rd,
twentyfirst, twentythird
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Long slash
Use
this after numerals to indicate "thousand" instead of Ith, which avoids the
problem of the Ith looking like a one or a six:
two thousand, eight thousand, five thousand pounds, six thousand
dollars
Use the slash before
dates to replace the first two numbers of the current century.
Suggestion: Use
double slash for the previous century:
two
thousand and one (2001), two thousand and twelve (2012), nineteen
ninetyone (1991)
Don't allow any hook to
appear at the beginning of the slash that might make it look like a
Yay, compare euro below
Write other centuries
with normal methods as appropriate:
eighteen thirtyseven, in the eighteen sixties, in the seventeen
hundreds
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Percent
After a
numeral, use stroke Pee for "percent" and two strokes for "per cent per annum".
If there is no numeral, use the full outlines:
five
percent (5%), five percent per annum (5% pa), one hundred percent
(100%)
an
increase of one million percent, an increase of a million percent
What percent of people own a car?
percentage percentagewise
Latin
"per centum" = "by the hundred" and "per annum" = "by the year, each
year"
"Or" pairs
Only three of the following omit the "or", the rest
join better with it included:
one or two, two or
three, three or four, four or five, five or
six
six or
seven, seven or eight*, eight or nine*, nine or ten*
*These are the
only occasions when "eight" and "ten" are written in shorthand
(other than in compound words)
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Currency
ten pounds*, ten pence, ten pennies,
five hundred pounds*
*Insert
the diphthong in "pounds" to differentiate from "pence"
four dollars, four hundred dollars, four thousand dollars, four
million dollars*,
dollars
*You
could write the Dee above the line as before, but here this keeps
pen travel to a minimum
five rupees, five hundred rupees, five thousand rupees, five million rupees, rupees
Write "rupees" in full if you need to
further distinguish it from the third position short form "hours"
For "thousand pounds"
include the Circle S (representing the middle S of that word) to
make the join possible:
fifteen thousand pounds,
many thousands of pounds
You can use any
appropriate consonant stroke to represent your own currency, but you
must check thoroughly whether there might be any clashes with other
outlines or numerals.
cent
centimo dinar euro franc krona
peso shekel shilling rand ruble yuan
Some currency signs are
placed before the numerals in longhand text, but in shorthand you
should write everything in the exact order that it is spoken, regardless of how it will
eventually be transcribed in longhand.
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Fractions
half, halftime, third,
onethird, twothirds
quarter, threequarters
An eighth of the people were present.
Fivetwelfths*
were in favour.
*Or use
numerals, as below, whichever is
easiest
He ate half the pie.
We saw twothirds of the staff.
With a numeral,
use the following brief method for quarters
and thirds:
one and a quarter (1¼), one and a half (1½), one and threequarters
(1¾)
A nontextbook suggestion that extends the principle:
one and a third (1 1/3), one and twothirds (1 2/3)
Other fractions should
use whatever method is clearest:
one eighth*,
five
twelfths, fortynine fiftieths
*It would be misleading to use the
fraction for "an eighth"
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Decimals
Write
in the normal format for your country, using
numerals:
one point five, one point five, one comma five, point, period, comma
Time
two ay em, two pee em
Latin:
am = ante meridiem = before midday; pm = post meridiem = after
midday
24hour clock:
twentyone hundred hours (2100 hrs) oh seven hundred hours (0700 hrs)
Powers
Better as numerals with
superscript, but
shorthand is shown for reference. Superscripts can be underlined to
provide further distinction if necessary:
five
squared (5^{2}), five cubed (5^{3})
five to the fortyfifth
(5^{45})
five to the power of fortyfive (5^{45})
ten to
the minus one (10^{1}), to the nth
degree
nth =
an indefinite and infinitely large ordinal number, suggesting highest or most extreme,
pronounced "enth"
Superscript is useful
for Bible chapter and verse references, or similar such as page and
line numbers:
Genesis chapter one verse nine, first Timothy six eleven, page 3
line*
4
Transcribe as Gen 1:9, 1 Tim 5:36 OR Gen 1 v 9, 1 Tim 5
v 36
*You would assume it was line/para/item etc as appropriate, but if
necessary write that outline as well
chapter verse paragraph para line item
footer footnote header heading article section
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Dates
AD and BC are
best written in lower case longhand. Sometimes AD is said
before the number:
in the year five hundred AD, in AD three hundred
two thousand BC, a million years BC
AD = Anno Domini
= Latin "in the year of (our) Lord"
BC = Before Christ
BCE = Before
Common/Current/Christian Era = alternative to BC
CE =
Common/Current/Christian Era = alternative to AD
Additional vocabulary
add addition additional approaching
approximately approximation
average chart flowchart bar
piechart calculate calculation
cardinal ordinal centenary century
comma
compare comparison decade decimal
diagram
divide division double dozen
elevenses even odd
equal* unequal* estimate estimation
exact exactitude exactly
*Short Form
figure fiver forecast foursquare
foursome
fourfooted fourposter fraction graph
graphic integer
increase increment mean median
millennium
millionaire billionaire multiply
multiplication
myriad negative negatively positive
positively
nought oh/owe* zero numeral numerical
*Short Form
once twice thrice pair point precise
precisely
proportion* quadruple ratio
rationalise reduce reduction
*Contraction
remain remainder section sixer
subtract subtraction
summary summarise tenner/tenor
tenpins thou* thous*
compare thou
(=you)
*Abbreviation = thousand/s
triple threedimensional threefold
threesome twosome* eightsome
*Most "two" words use the short form
as below
twopart twofold grand total
totalling totally totality
gazillion squillion umpteen umpteenth
gazillion squillion = an indeterminate very large number, used for
effect or emphasis
umpteen = an indeterminate number, possibly with the suggestion of
being excessive
number/numbered*
but note similarly spelled adjective: numb
number numbest
(without physical feeling)
*Short Form
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