About five years ago a friend of mine gave me a book which I knew one  day would be very important to me in my journalism training.

Well today was the day I finally used it for the first time as I embarked on learning shorthand. It’s called ‘Teeline Gold: The Course Book. This particular edition was printed in 1991 but the principles and techniques involved in shorthand have not changed in the 19 years since its publication.

Shorthand is an important tool in journalism and one which, although may not be used as much today thanks to dicta-phones and other recording equipment, I still believe it’s an important tool to have. But anyway, today was the first time I tried my hand at shorthand and I thought I’d share my efforts with you and the way I went about it.

The easiest way to start off with was to have a go at writing the alphabet in an attempt to get to grips with basic shorthand. With the shorthand alphabet being very different to the traditional alphabet, copying each letter out five or six teams was the best way to develop my technique and get the letters correct in terms of shape and positioning on the lines.

After this an attempt at basic words which the book suggested was in order.

Something shorthand does is removes unnecessary and silent letters from words. Thus, the word light is just spelt ‘lt’ and cough becomes ‘cf’. When writing down what someone is saying, why bother with extra letters?

Most of the letters are fairly easy to write however there are one or two which I found harder to keep tidy, with ‘f’ in particular proving difficult to get correct, especially when I tried upping the pace.

However at this stage, technique is far more important than speed and I’ll continue to work at getting that right before attempting sentences and longer words. To pass the shorthand course at UCLan, I have to achieve 80 words a minute. However that test is a long way off yet so for now technique and ensuring what I write makes sense takes priority.

It’s going to be hard but it should be worthwhile and hopefully prove invaluable. Over the next few days I plan to repeat the alphabet and these simple words again and again before moving on to longer words and my first sentences.

Today’s first practise has been quite encouraging.

These may look like squiggles, but they are the first steps towards learning an important skill