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Type Alphabet Shorthand
Spoken languages English
Created by Emma Dearborn
Time period 1924–present
Parent systems
→ Speedwriting
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
Common abbreviations in Speedwriting
Symbol/Letter Word
. the
· a
+ and
v of, have, or very
f for, if
b by, bye, or buy
r are, re-
u you(r)
s is
k can
t it
underline last letter -ing
overline last letter -ed
- -ment
a -ate
j 'g' in age or judge

Speedwriting is a shorthand writing system developed in 1924 by Emma Dearborn, an instructor at the University of Chicago. It uses alphabetic characters and was originally designed so that it could be written by pen, or on a typewriter.

Speedwriting is phonetic with a ‘k’ used for a hard c, ‘C’ for ‘ch’, ‘j’ for ‘g’ in ‘age’. It condenses words by omitting silent letters and only writing long vowels, and initial short vowels. Sentences are ended with ‘\’ and a ‘/’ is used for omitted syllables. There are other abbreviating devices, including capitalisation, and the use of punctuation marks to denote combinations of sounds. It uses around 100 abbreviations for common words and suffixes. Newer speed writing methods such as EasyScript Speed Writing utilize a smaller set of abbreviating rules to reduce memorization and increase efficiency.

Speedwriting uses a stylized script made in 1942 for faster handwriting, in which the ‘t’ is uncrossed (l is looped to distinguish them), ‘i’ is not dotted, ‘m’ is a simple curve like a stretched ‘n’ and 'w' is also a simple curve like a stretched 'u'.

Speedwriting is more than twice as fast as longhand, due to using half the letters, but it is nowhere near as fast as symbolic shorthand systems. Speeds of up to 120 words a minute are possible for short periods of time, with speeds of 80 words a minute being regularly attained. It is therefore more useful for someone wanting a simple system to speed up handwritten note taking than for reporting.

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