How To Write Faster – Teeline Shorthand

Teeline is a relatively new way for shorthand writing mainly used in the UK and other parts of  British Commonwealth. There are also Teeline applications for teelinesome Germanic languages like German and Swedish. The Teeline Shorthand System is recognized by the British National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Teeline was created and introduced in 1968 by James Hill, a shorthand writing teacher. With Teeline, a rate of 150 words a minute is feasible, and usually journalists who use the system have created their own groups of word to increase their writing speed.

Teeline is speed writing system that is using all letters of the English alphabet that we are already familiar with, and streamlines the text. Just think of what nowadays is known as ‘text language’, used by teenagers when they’re writing their text messages.

They have removed the ‘silent’ letters from a word, usually vowels, as in hello (abbreviated to ‘hlo’) and in (shortened to ‘bi’). Which letters are written depends on how the words sound when spoken. Teeline uses a similar system.

Teeline is using a self-taught approach that requires a minor learning load. The system is ideal for busy working professionals and is perfect for transcribing spoken words quickly by taking out unnecessary (silent) letters from the words so the letters themselves can be written faster.

Unless they are a word’s first or last words, vowels are usually removed and silent letters are often ignored, and suffixes, prefixes, and letter groupings like ‘ing’ and ‘sh’ are reduced to a single symbol.

Teeline differs from Pitman (and other shorthand systems) in that it is not based on phonetics, but on spelling, and that it can be learned in a pretty straightforward way. There are instances, though, when Teeline is using phonetics spelling, such as where the ‘f’ is used for ‘ph’. The word ‘phone’ is in Teeling written just like it is spelled (or spelt) as ‘fone’.

As with most shorthand writing systems, Teeline comes with only few strict rules on its writing. Users can just make their personal adaptations for individual use which they understand. Specific letters may also have certain meanings while they’re at the same time carrying their traditional alphabetic indication. Just look at the following examples, modified quotes from the Ann Dix book ‘Teeline Fast’ (first published in 1990):

‘Tln is prty esy to lrn’

‘We wl go to Lndn nxt mth to do sm shpng’

‘It ws a brt and sny da td’

‘Pls pt th mny fr yr tcts in ths bx’

For people accustomed to text messaging, the above will already be like a second nature.

You may be thinking by now, what make Teeline so special then? It looks like it’s just about writing words in the way they sound and removing some letters.Well, what you see here is just the beginning. Teeline is indeed using letters from the English alphabet, but the system uses these in a way that they have more curves and flow, and that makes it easier when you take high speed notes.

The Teeline alphabet basics are quite simple. The system is using the shorthand letter version just like the longhand at the start of a word, but when words get more complex, the following letters need to be moving with the previous letters’ flow. Now the vowels.

They are smaller in shape than constants, and come in two different forms, the indicator and the full vowel, and remember that vowels are taken out, except when they are on the first or last position in a word. Most common simple words like ‘the – like – we – be – me’ are usually abbreviated to one stroke or one letter, called ‘Special Outlines’.

When I  initially began to research shorthand writing, I learned about Pitman, a well-known shorthand system. Later I came across Teeline, and let me explain the reasons why I opted not for Pitman, but for the Teeline system:

– Teeline could be mastered through a self-study approach, with Pitman this was not clear.
– Pitman is using different shades and stroke sizes, and was originally developed for use with a fountain pen. Now who uses a fountain pen?

If you want a few tips to learn shorthand writing, here are a few:

– Don’t immediately try to write fast. As always, speed comes with experience.
– Practice on a daily basis. It’s far more effective to practice half an hour every day than two hours per week.
– Always use a quality and comfortable pen. It should flow freely on your page and shouldn’t be leaking ink everywhere, and a sharp pencil will also do the job well.