From times dating as far back as 63BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero, thinker of all things meaningful and philosophical, revolutionised the way that notes were taken during political Roman debates.

Wanting a faster, more dependable way of covering everything that was said, he and his housemate, it is argued, came up with a method to do just that.

As a result, the Tironian alphabet was assembled, made up of lines and curves that resembled original characters, making it the earliest form of Shorthand.

However, the method was tarnished significantly following accusations of witchcraft or secret coding, meaning it was lost for many centuries. That is, of course, until Sir Isaac Pitman created the modern day Pitman Shorthand. A similar concept to the Tironian Shorthand, the Pitman method is a series of original lettering that is representative of phonetic sounds and characters of the English alphabet.

This particular method (alongside the later invented Teeline Shorthand) was one of the most popular and sought after skills between the 1920s and the late 80s, with it being in its prime around the 1950s.

However, some argue that the ever-modern machinery that surrounds us in the 21st century is killing the skill of Shorthand and although some still use it today and pursue courses in it, the debate highlights the question of whether it’s relevant in a technical world.

Education and Learning

Today, some universities and training programmes put Shorthand as a requirement in their modules for students to learn and use, particularly in journalism. If a portion of students are still using it and find that it is a valuable skill within their own courses, and continue to use it in the future, then surely – the art of Shorthand is still alive.

Similarly, it’s not only journalism students that benefit from the art of Shorthand. Students of all degrees can profit from using it, especially in lectures where copious amounts of information is being rapidly thrown at them. It allows students to write as much down as possible so they can then look back on accurate notes with ease. Again, why wouldn’t you try to learn and use it when it makes note-taking so much easier?


It’s hard to deny that technology has made some gigantic leaps over the past few decades. From the invention of the internet back in the 1980s, to highly sophisticated systems like iOS and smart phones, it’s evident that digital age is dominating. Developments in technology are constantly thriving, spreading across the world, and in many cases, we’re wholly dependent on it.

So, wouldn’t you say that it’s easier to tap little buttons on a screen than whip out a note pad and pen? Some people have difficulties typing accurately on these devices and would maybe then find it easier to adopt the a method of written Shorthand.

It can also be argued that voice and handwriting recognition systems are still not that sophisticated and cannot produce text automatically, or with the reliability of Shorthand.

Therefore, if you want to know that you’re taking notes quickly and correctly, it makes sense to learn and use Shorthand for your own peace of mind, especially when it comes to important documents.


Not only is Shorthand something that makes note-taking and life generally easier, but it is still regarded as a great skill to possess. Employers are impressed when they see that individuals are fluent in Shorthand as they know information can be taken in swiftly and efficiently, reducing pressure on both parties.

Likewise, it’s well documented by people that are able to use Shorthand that the skill is relevant and can be used in everyday situations.

Whether it be shopping lists, important reference documents or reminders, Shorthand comes in handy whatever the circumstances and is worth learning. Therefore, is it appropriate to say that it is less relevant when it can be such a valuable skill for many people? Yes, Shorthand is not as popular as it used to be, but it’s relevant and useful in many cases. Shorthand isn’t going anywhere.

Pitman Shorthand Tips:

If you’re in the process of learning Shorthand, check below for tips and tricks on making the learning process easier:

  • Practise for at least 45 minutes-1 hour a day. If this is not possible, then practise little but often.
  • Get to grips with the method. Make sure you know the Shorthand structure in depth before you try writing quickly with it. Remember, slow and steady always wins the race (when you’re still learning anyway).
  • Refresh your memory. Keep your knowledge updated. Eventually it will become second nature to you.
  • Make practice interesting by writing Shorthand to your favourite TV programmes or music. This will also make your Shorthand much quicker.

Interested in learning the valuable art of shorthand?

Visit to see further details about the courses and benefits of being able to use shorthand.

This article first appeared in The Pitman Training Magazine, which features a great deal of articles, hints & tips etc.

You can read the magazine online by clicking this link:
Read The Pitman Training Magazine Online