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Steno In a Nutshell

Quick, read this sentence out loud.

Now, try to type that same sentence. Which was faster? Most people can read much faster than they can type. Stenographers, on the other hand, can type as fast as you read!

But what is steno anyways?

Sometimes, steno feels like magic. Words. Entire words, magically appearing on the screen.

Steno is a method of writing that allows the user to press multiple keys at the same time to make an entire word.

Here's a video of me doing stenography.

Huh? Watch it again. Maybe you can understand it the second time around. Or maybe not.

Still confused? I was too. But it turns out, it's not as complicated as it looks.

Steno might look like playing a piano, and you're not wrong...

Piano and steno are actually quite similar. Both use chords to represent sounds.

Phonetic Spelling

You write in steno by typing words as they sound. You spell "cat" by typing "KAT" in steno. There are only 22 letter keys on the steno layout even though there are 26 letters in the alphabet. This is partly because letters like C, K, and Q usually make the same sound.

Steno Order

Read the layout from left to right. This is the steno order. It goes: STKPWHRAO*EUFRPBLGSTDZ.

We need this because we press the keys down at the same time. That's also why we see S, T, P, and R on both the left and right hand.

The steno order (source)
Let's look at the example "cat"
Correct way to spell "cat"
Wrong way to spell "cat". It doesn't follow the order. This is TKA.


Say "dawn". Think about how that sounds. First there is the "d" sound followed by a wide "aw" as in "want" and "taunt". Lastly, the word ends in the "n" sound.

Q: How do we do this in steno?

A: In steno, you press "TKAUPB"

Source: TypeyType

Eek! What is that!? How does the steno software take that jumble and translate that to "dawn"?

Let's break it down:

There is no "D" on the left side of the board for "dawn". So we can't start the word with "d" but we can use combos.

TK = The starting "d" soundThere is no D on the left hand so we use combos. "TK" represents "d".

AU = the "awe" sound. Vowels are located in the middle. Thumbs press these.

PB = the ending "-N" sound. Another combo here. "PB" represents "n" sound. Use the right hand because you're ending the word.

Easy, right?

And that's pretty much it!

There you have it. Steno in a nutshell.

For more resources check out the Resources page.


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