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Theory Intro

 1   Strokes

 2   Vowels

 3   Forming Outlines

 4   Circles

 5   Loops

 6   Hooks Intro

 7   Hooks R L

 8   Hooks N F V

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10  Halving

11  Doubling

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16  Imp/Imb

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18  Prefixes

19  Suffixes General

20  Suffixes Contracted

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SF Intro

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SF List 4


Contractions Intro

Contractions Main

Contractions Optional


1 Phrasing Intro & Contents list

2 Theory

3 Theory

4 Omission Part words

5 Omission Whole words

6 Miscellaneous

7 Miscellaneous

8 Intersections

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DO Intro

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DO List 2 D-H

DO List 3 I-P

DO List 4 Q-Y


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PAGE DATE 12 January 2010

Shorthand punctuation marks are written differently from longhand ones to prevent them looking like shorthand outlines.

Shorthand uses the bare minimum of punctuation marks. The only ones you really need to use are the full stop and the question mark, the rest are optional and should not be written unless absolutely necessary.

If you pepper your shorthand with punctuation marks, you run the risk of them being mistaken for shorthand outlines. Your speed will also be injured, both from the extra writing involved, and the mental delay while you decide what marks to include.


Name Longhand Shorthand  
Full stop
. Pitman's New Era: full stop Never ever omit the full stop.

The joined cross is much quicker than a normal cross and does not clash with anything, so long as you keep it small.

When writing longhand numerals, use the full stop as normal within them.

Question mark
Interrogation mark
? Pitman's New Era: question mark Some questions are only indicated by the tone of voice, so always insert the question mark.
Exclamation mark ! Pitman's New Era: exclamation mark The tone of voice lets you know whether this is needed. Imagine someone saying:
No No? No!
Initial capital None Pitman's New Era: initial capital mark Write it upwards, underneath the line. Place it underneath the rightmost part of the outline, so that your pen does not travel any farther backwards than it has to.
All initial capitals None Pitman's New Era: initial capitals mark Instead of going back over the last 2 or 3 words to indicate initial capitals for each of them, use this to save time. This is a personal suggestion and is NOT part of orthodox New Era theory.
[ ]
( )
Pitman's New Era: brackets parentheses

Make the strike-through quite small, so it does not look like an intersection on an outline.

Brackets are square and parentheses are curved, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

En dash
Em dash

Pitman's New Era: dash Dashes are used to separate sentences or parts of sentences. The longer you draw the dash, the less likely it is that it will look like an outline.

In longhand, an En dash (Alt+0150) has a space either side. The longer Em dash (Alt+0151) looks better without the spaces.

Hyphen - Pitman's New Era: hyphen Write the marks upwards. Hyphens are used to join two words, or two numerals showing a range. The shorthand mark is the same as the initial capital mark, but used above the line instead of under it. There is no need to use it slavishly, only use it where it serves your purpose.

Words that have part of the outline disjoined do not need a hyphen to join them, they are merely written close together.

A hyphen in longhand transcription does not have a space either side.

Paragraph mark
New paragraph
New line
// may be used when correcting drafts by hand Pitman's New Era: paragraph mark Write the marks downwards. Paragraph marks help with reading back or locating information, as they break the page into meaningful sections.

You can drop down to the next line instead of writing the paragraph mark, but this will lose you a line of the page each time, causing an increase in the frequency of page turns. The white space on the page may help you to keep your place when transcribing or searching your notes.

When pushed for time, do not indulge in paragraph marks, getting all the words is far more important.

The double slash  and the pilcrow symbol have a long history as paragraph markers, continuing to the present day on your screen to show that the Enter key has been pressed. To type a pilcrow that will print, type Alt+0182.

Emphasis or caution None Pitman's New Era: emphasis caution mark Wavy or zigzag line draws your attention to the word for emphasis, an unusual, foreign or nonsense word, a word used out of context, longhand numerals to show they are not outlines, doubt over the outline, or something you need to check or look up.
Humour None Pitman's New Era: humorous mark Vertical squiggle indicates that the preceding word(s) should be taken humorously. In transcription you would need to set it within quotation marks, use italics, or whatever is appropriate to convey the meaning and avoid ambiguity.

Some people make "quote mark" gestures with their fingers as they are saying such things, but you will have to rely on tone of voice to identify the way that the words should be taken.

Error Scribble! Pitman's New Era: error mark Draw a large circle around the error and then write the correct outline. When you transcribe, you will be ignoring anything in the circle. Do this in preference to scribbling over an outline or trying to correct it. In one-to-one dictation, you would do this when the speaker changes their mind over their choice of words.

If you are using a pencil, never use a rubber. If your pencil has a rubber on the end, cut it off and sharpen the second end, which will be much more useful.

If you are marking up outlines afterwards for future looking up in the dictionary, then use a red pencil or draw a square around it unless the shorthand must be kept for archive purposes, then you should note the items on a separate pad.

Correction of position   Pitman's New Era: "word" with position corrected If you write an outline in the wrong position, correct it by inserting some dots or dashes where the ruled line ought to be. This is especially useful for short forms and contractions where there is no vowel that can be inserted. It is often quicker than writing in the first vowel for any outline, as it takes less thought and hesitation. Useful also for notes made on unlined paper.
Accented syllable Dictionaries use an apostroph, dot or similar mark after the syllable Pitman's New Era: accent mark
Write the cross against (or in place of*) the accented vowel. This helps distinguish pairs of words.

(*It is not orthodox theory to replace the vowel)

Not all longhand punctuation is useful in shorthand. The following are too misleading to be safe in shorthand and their rightful place is in the transcription:
Comma , Do not use Commas look too much like shorthand. Achieve the same effect by leaving a wider than usual space or judicious phrasing.

If you feel a wider space is not obvious enough, then use a shorthand dash.

When writing longhand numerals, use the comma as normal within them.

Colon : Do not use Use a shorthand full stop.

A colon means that the following sentence is a result, explanation or continuation of the preceding sentence. It belongs in longhand but not in shorthand.

Semi-colon ; Do not use Use a shorthand full stop.

A semi-colon means that the following sentence is grammatically separate but that the writer has not yet finished his train of thought. It belongs in longhand but not in shorthand.

Quote marks
Quotation marks
Speech marks
' " Do not use Use wavy line underneath if marking one word, or a dash or space either side for marking off several words.


Some of the very old shorthand reading books use the full complement of longhand punctuation within the lithographed/engraved shorthand. In print, such marks are formed perfectly and do not look like shorthand. They help the reader follow the conversational passages, but such punctuation has no place within shorthand taken from dictation.

In your shorthand you should use other expedients to show how the words are grouped together. When transcribing you are at leisure to choose what is necessary for good and unambiguous presentation.

Intelligent phrasing does a good job of keeping words in their meaningful groups and this will be discussed on a future Phrasing page. Leaving wider spaces between outlines does the work of commas and also more closely reflects the way that the speaker indicates the meaning. To indicate quoted speech, use a dash to introduce the person's speech; to mark the end of their speech, I would use a paragraph mark.

Pitman's New Era: We went into the ship and had a meal
We went into the ship and had a meal.

We went into The Ship and had a meal.

Pitman's New Era: The man said John is not here
The man said John is not here.

"The man," said John, "is not here."

Pitman's New Era: We watched a live stock market programme
We watched a live stock-market program.

We watched a livestock market program.

Pitman's New Era: I think the man said it is all wrong
I think the man said it is all wrong.

I think the man said, "It is all wrong."

"I think," the man said, "it is all wrong."

Pitman's New Era: You will not do that again

You will NOT do that again!

You will not do THAT again!

Brush up your punctuation skills at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuation



"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

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