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Theory

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

12  Hay Aspirate

13  W Forms

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18  Prefixes

19  Suffixes General

20  Suffixes Contracted

Short Forms

SF Intro

SF List 1

SF List 2

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SF List 4

Contractions

Contractions Intro

Contractions Main

Contractions Optional

Phrasing

1 Phrasing Intro & Contents list

2 Theory

3 Theory

4 Omission Part words

5 Omission Whole words

6 Miscellaneous

7 Miscellaneous

8 Intersections

Distinguishing Outlines

DO Intro

DO List 1 A-C

DO List 2 D-H

DO List 3 I-P

DO List 4 Q-Y

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FREE SHORTHAND DICTIONARY

The Internet Archive has a free download of the shorthand dictionary in the Centenary (1913) version of Pitman's, containing about 60,000 words with definitions. Centenary was the version before New Era, which appeared in 1922 and which made many changes to the theory. Just over 3,000 outlines are different in the two versions. I have produced an Update that illustrates all the outlines that are different, thus enabling you to use the Centenary shorthand dictionary for your New Era studies.

Using PDFs is far less convenient than rapidly leafing through a book, and so I would still encourage the purchase of a real printed New Era dictionary if the opportunity arises, as a very worthwhile investment for the gaining of shorthand skill.

The Centenary dictionary: www.archive.org/details/englishshorthand00pitmiala

Portfolio of 26 PDF files: Dictionary Update Centenary to New Era PDF 20.6 MB

  • Introduction: Includes explanation of most of the differences. (4 pages)

  • Outlines: PDF for each letter of the alphabet, plus Names. Each page is one entire graphic, with a text block at the bottom; this is to ensure that your word searches cannot include any words contained in the notes that accompany some of the outlines. (112 pages total)

  • Text list repeating all the text blocks in one file. (7 pages)

  • All are laid out as A4 pages, and if printed back to back will make a folder of 62 pages.

You can either consult both lists each time that you need an outline, or use the Update to mark up your copy of the dictionary. Marking up will save you time in the long run, as that will enable you to go straight to the main dictionary first, instead of consulting the Update first to see if it is a different outline. The Update portfolio can be viewed in Adobe Reader (www.adobe.com) where you can use sticky notes to mark up each relevant outline in the Centenary dictionary PDF. The full Adobe Acrobat programme will give you a greater choice of marks - circles, boxes, underlines, arrows and sticky notes. Sticky note icons do not print, but the other marks do.

Amendments: The lists were compiled by reading through the Centenary dictionary and noting any outlines that do not conform to New Era theory. Further revision will only be made for omissions and errors, but not for missing dot or dashes, extraneous ink marks, or for variations in modern pronunciation, as these may be quite numerous. Any future amendments to these PDFs will be listed in a separate file in the PDF portfolio, and also indicated separately on this website, so that you can re-download or mark up any paper copy or notes that you have made.

I invite you to use the Guestbook to report any errors or omissions in the Update.

The Update is for your non-commercial personal study use and may not be republished in any form. Please also see the Internet Archive Terms of Use http://www.archive.org/about/terms.php

Part of Update page  Update - part of page

DESCRIPTIONs OF VARIOUS DICTIONARIES

To help you make an informed purchase, I have described below the Pitman's New Era Shorthand dictionaries that I own. I have not come across any others (within UK), but there may similar editions in different colours.

Although these dictionaries do not give the latest words and jargon, there are sufficient to enable the writer to create new outlines intelligently. They are no longer in normal print (to my knowledge), as demand is no doubt too low. The only one of these that I believe is still in print is the small white pocket dictionary. This is just about sufficient for learners, but not enough for the serious shorthand writer.

I have seen the big dictionary available online for sale "New" but I noticed in one excerpt that it said "Centenary", so this seems to be the same as the free Internet Archive download above, the "new" description probably referring to the paper "print on demand" copy that is being offered. I suspect also that sometimes "publishing date" may refer to the date of production of the newly-printed hard copy, rather than the original date of the work. Caution and close inspection of the details would be prudent on all of these, whether dictionaries or other shorthand books, and if in doubt you can always search for it first on Internet Archive to check up on the exact details.

Second-hand bookshops and Ebay are where you will have a choice of the bigger dictionaries, and thankfully still at reasonable prices (Ebay UK has the most Pitman's books). When buying secondhand, ensure that the book is described as New Era. Either the cover, spine or title page will have the words New Era on it. Book No.2 below is the only one of the five that does not have the words New Era on the cover.

Any book called "Pitman Shorterhand" will contain Pitman 2000, as this was the name that it started out with in 1971. The version called "Shorterhand" is very slightly different (regarding thick and thin vowel signs) from the subsequent Pitman 2000 editions that followed, so it would seem better to study the latter if you are doing that version of Pitman's, to ensure compatibility across your study books.

It is convenient to have the definition alongside the word, but not essential. Having the maximum number of shorthand outlines available is absolutely essential and you will never regret your purchase. A voluminous shorthand dictionary is far more valuable than any amount of shorthand pens, but I sincerely hope that you will be able to own both of these treasures.

Making do with guessed-at outlines through lack of a dictionary will produce a diluted, less efficient and less reliable version of shorthand. It is always possible to make up an outline from theory, but you may find it ends up having awkward joins, or clashes with another when the vowels are left out, or is just too long and straggling. Pitman's many revisers have found this out over the years and this is why some outlines depart from basic theory is in order to produce compact outlines, and you will sometimes see instances in instruction books where certain outlines are justified purely on the basis of convenience/speed in writing, which is the main purpose of shorthand.

As well as using the dictionaries, there are many thousands of outlines throughout this website and the shorthand blog, and you can use my search page to find the one you are after. All shorthand on the sites has its text underneath.

Shorthand books (and maybe even pens) have a way of emerging from dusty storage when friends and family realise you are studying it. Time for an extra note in your email signature text "Rest your typing fingers and send me your latest news and chat in a sound file so I can practise my Pitman's Shorthand!"

If you are not learning, but have Auntie's old unused shorthand dictionary/instruction book gathering dust, please consider making it available to today's upcoming writers, either through Ebay or your local charity shop, some of which have branches that specialise in books (e.g. Oxfam), and this is a good place to ensure the copy is handled carefully and made available at a reasonable price, benefiting everyone involved. The committed student/writer will not mind the condition of the copy, the scribbles or the ink blots, they will see past that and really value the information that they gain. The marks in my books remind me of their history, the student toiling to master each page, and they give a sense of continuity of learning.

Old shorthand book ink marks
The fastest writer had to start somewhere. Did the person who wrote these laboured marks enjoy their lessons, or indeed did they have a choice? Did they relish speed victories, have an encouraging teacher, and finally achieve a usable speed? Did they actually use their shorthand in later life? Maybe it was a child drawing the marks, exactly what I would have done in very early years if I had had this book to play with!

Five Pitman's Shorthand dictionaries

Dictionaries 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, given in size order.
Dimensions given below are width x length x thickness, the ruler is 30cm/12 inches.
Pictures of the page spread show fingers in order to indicate scale.

(1) THE PITMAN DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH AND SHORTHAND New Era Edition

Publisher/Date Pitman Publishing Ltd 1974

ISBN 0 273 36137 6

Dimensions 14 x 22 x 5.5 cm

Cover Red, Hardback

Spine Stitched

Introduction 32 pages giving in detail examples of the application of the rules, some special outlines, and how proper names should be written.

Index to Introduction 10 pages longhand alphabetical list, plus page numbers, of all the words used for illustrating the shorthand principles.

Dictionary 836 pages containing 100,000 shorthand outlines (all with a dotted line showing the position), longhand word and meaning. Short forms and contractions shown in italics.

Appendix of Proper Names 42 pages of town, country and personal names.

NOTE: The dotted lines occasionally obscure the dot vowels in some places.

The dark blue version contains Pitman 2000 outlines, and it does say this on the cover and spine. It is the same size as the red one, but three-quarters of the thickness, with 75,000 outlines. It also lists the differences between Pitman 2000 and New Era.

(1) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary cover

(1) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary pages

(1) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary words

Pitman 2000 Shorthand Dictionary cover
Dark blue = Pitman 2000 dictionary

(2) PITMAN’S ENGLISH AND SHORTHAND DICTIONARY New Era Edition

Publisher Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd (no date shown)

ISBN None shown

Dimensions 12.5 x 19 x 4 cm

Cover Pale blue, Hardback

Spine Stitched

Introduction 34 pages pages giving in detail examples of the application of the rules, some special outlines, and how proper names should be written.

New Era Changes 4 pages showing how New Era differs from Centenary shorthand.

Index to Introduction 8 longhand alphabetical list, plus page numbers, of all the words used for illustrating the shorthand principles.

Dictionary 740 pages containing approx 60,000 shorthand outlines, longhand word and meaning. Dotted line is only shown for 1st and 3rd position short forms. Short forms and contractions shown in italics.

Proper Names 37 pages of town, country and personal names.

Full List of Grammalogues 3 pages showing all the short forms in stroke order.

Contractions 3 pages of the commonest contractions plus a third of a page with some common phrase logograms.

Latin Prefixes 2 pages showing the prefix, meaning and examples. No shorthand.

Greek Prefixes 2 pages showing the prefix meaning and examples. No shorthand.

Foreign Words, Phrases and Sayings 11 pages giving the phrase, language and translation to English idiom/equivalent.

Appendix 36 pages of new words.

NOTE: Does not state number of entries, so the entry count is my own average; I believe the number of entries is probably identical to the slimmer volume below. The print size is very clear, helped by the bold main words. An educated guess at the date of my copy is 1950's, going by the new words in the appendix.
 

(2) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary cover

(2) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary pages

(2) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary words

 

(3) PITMAN’S SHORTHAND DICTIONARY
Eleventh Edition (New Era)


Publisher Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd

ISBN None shown

Dimensions 12.5 x 19 x 2 cm Hardback

Cover Light blue, Hardback

Spine Stitched

Introduction 34 pages pages giving in detail examples of the application of the rules, some special outlines, and how proper names should be written.

New Era Changes 4 pages showing how New Era differs from Centenary shorthand.

Index to Introduction 8 pages alphabetical list of all the words used for illustrating the shorthand principles.

Dictionary 290 pages containing 60,000 shorthand outlines. Dotted line is only shown for 1st and 3rd position short forms. Short forms and contractions shown in italics.

Proper Names 37 pages of town, country and personal names.

Full List of Grammalogues 3 pages of all the short forms in stroke order.

Contractions 3 pages of the commonest contractions plus a third of a page with some common phrase logograms.

NOTE: The main dictionary part is probably identical to No.2 but without the definitions.

There is another reprint of this dictionary that includes a 32-page Appendix of additional words. ISBN 0 273 40956 5, with royal blue cover, which would date it to not earlier than about 1970.

(3) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary cover

(3) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary pages

(3) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary words

 

(4) POCKET DICTIONARY NEW ERA – Pitman New Era Shorthand

Publisher Addison Wesley Longman Limited.
First published 1975, Reprinted 1985, 86, 87, 88, 90, 92, 93, 96, 97

ISBN 0-582-29890-3

Dimensions 8.5 x 13.5 x 1.25 cm

Cover White with red and black titles, Softback

Spine Glued

Dictionary 217 pages giving shorthand outlines for 20,000 words. Dotted lines given only for 1st and 3rd position short forms. Short forms and contractions shown in italics.

NOTE: Very clear shorthand. The book does not lie flat, as the spine is glued, not stitched.

(4) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary cover

(4) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary pages

(4) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary words

(5) PITMAN POCKET SHORTHAND DICTIONARY New Era Edition

Publisher Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd

ISBN 0 273 40954 9

Dimensions 7.5 x 12.5 x 1.25 cm Hardback

Colour Royal blue

Spine Stitched

Dictionary 217 pages giving shorthand outlines for 20,000 words. Dotted lines given only for 1st and 3rd position short forms. Short forms and contractions shown in italics.

The book illustrated is about 1970, but there is an earlier version in a dull matt blue cover, which additionally contains lists of Short Forms (Grammalogues) and Contractions.

NOTE: This book does lie flat, and the print is slightly smaller than the later white-covered version.

 

(5) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary cover

(5) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary pages

(5) Pitman's Shorthand Dictionary words

 

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