What Is Shorthand Typing?

By Alexander Eliot

Shorthand typing is a technique of using shortcuts to reduce the number of keystrokes necessary to type a document. This includes software techniques --- which allow for custom preset typing shortcuts --- as well as shorthand writing techniques. Shorthand typing is used in both computer applications and mobile devices.


The benefit of shorthand typing is a reduced number of keystrokes required of the user. Abbreviations replace difficult words or phrases. The user programs other keyboard shortcuts to make unconventional words and symbols easily accessible by inputting a custom keystroke combination. Additionally, shorthand typing applications automatically correct misspellings and grammatical errors. This reduces the amount of time required for typing as well as revision.

Computer Software

A shorthand typing technique used in many computer software applications is known as an auto-correct feature. This feature automatically replaces certain abbreviations with words from a preprogrammed dictionary. Auto-correct features also make typographical and grammatical corrections as the user types. This reduces the number of keystrokes required of the user by eliminating the necessity of deletion and retyping. Additionally, auto-correct features can be programmed to underline or highlight typing errors rather than correcting them. This allows the user to easily catch mistakes during revision.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices such as cell phones also utilize shorthand typing features. In addition to auto-correct functions similar to those found in computer applications, some mobile devices utilize a feature that suggests commonly used words as the user types. This allows the user to select the word from a list of predicted options rather than typing the word fully. This feature is especially beneficial on cell phones that do not feature a complete keyboard, as otherwise the user must select each individual letter by cycling through them with a 9-digit numerical pad.

Speed Typing

Shorthand spelling techniques are also used in shorthand typing. This is sometimes referred to as speed typing. In speed typing, the user develops a system of abbreviations and symbols to replace common words. For example, the caret character may be used in a sentence as an arrow symbol to signify the word "therefore." Another method is to only type the first few letters of large, difficult words. This allows the user to quickly type a document for personal study later. Speed typing is therefore very beneficial in note-taking and transcription scenarios.