Shorthand is any method of fast writing which uses abbreviations and symbols to represent letters, sounds and words to create a quicker way of taking notes accurately and efficiently.

With the speed of today’s world, shorthand is such a versatile skill that it’s worthwhile for anyone to learn but the people who benefit from it most tend to be journalists, admins, secretaries, PAs and EAs as they have to listen to, record and act upon the most information on a daily basis.

Shorthand for journalists

Despite today’s hi-tech digital technology, shorthand remains an essential skill for journalists, so much so that many employers will not even consider an applicant if their CV doesn’t include it.  The best journalists use their shorthand every day – for interviews, court reporting, press conferences, TV and radio broadcasts, story reporting, news gathering, any time, any place – to produce detailed, accurate and legally sound notes which are fast to write and quick to transcribe (it takes far longer to transcribe a recording than it does a shorthand note).

Shorthand also shows that you have the commitment, discipline and determination to learn a challenging skill, which are all highly desirable qualities that will give you the edge in a competitive market.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) delivers the premier training scheme for journalists in the UK and they include shorthand as a core part of their news journalism diploma.  They state that “shorthand is a fundamental skill for all journalists and an accurate shorthand note is vital”.  Trainee journalists on their accredited courses must achieve a speed of at least 60wpm to pass the diploma but ideally 100wpm is the industry “Gold Standard” and what employers are looking for.

Shorthand for business

The skill of using shorthand within today’s professional workplace is still incredibly relevant and has great benefits for performance and efficiency.  Administrators, secretaries, PA’s and executive assistants can all benefit from the following advantages.

Minute Taking

Accurately capture the conversation, have time to actively listen to the conversation and determine what needs to be recorded.  Far better, far more efficient and far less tiring than using a laptop or writing longhand – shorthand is designed to be used effortlessly over a long period of time.

To-do lists

Record requests and information confidently, reliably and quickly either face to face or over the phone, saving a great deal of time

Telephone messages

Use shorthand to take clear, concise, accurate records of conversations.


Quickly take a note of emails or correspondence to save time if your manager is on the move, out of the office, travelling or in and out of meetings all day.

Career development

In a competitive world where employers are inundated with job applications, having shorthand on your CV can set you apart from the rest and be the defining factor to get you an interview.  It’s worth remembering that shorthand isn’t always asked for on job descriptions but it’s certainly still seen as highly desirable.  It shows an additional skill set not many other applicants can compete with these days and reassures employers that you can confidently deal with meetings, instructions and communications.

There’s no denying that shorthand is a traditional skill that’s often dismissed as “old hat”, but it still remains a core skill in today’s world that can enhance, boost and improve your performance and employability.  You’ll hear people saying “no-one uses shorthand any more” but they tend to be the people who have never learned shorthand, have never seen it in action and therefore don’t know what they’re missing – a truly valuable skill for life.

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