Machine Stenography is the art of using a specialist machine in order to write at very fast speeds very accurately. This is achieved by writing syllables, words or even entire phrases in a single hand motion.

As a comparison, a fast QWERTY typist will be able to type at around 80 words per minute whereas a fast stenographer will be able to write around 260 words per minute.

The speed of human speech in the english language is around 180 words per minute so stenography can be used to type speech in realtime. Alternatively stenography can be used to write down your own thoughts as fast as you can think them!

Steno Keyboard

During a single hand motion on a steno keyboard, multiple keys are pressed at once. When these keys are released, the steno software outputs the word, syllable or phrase that was typed. This is called one "stroke" or "chord".

During one stroke on a steno keyboard, the hands are performing the following functions:

  • The left hand types the initial consonant of the syllable
  • The thumbs type the vowels of the syllable
  • The right hand types the final consonant of the syllable

The word "stop" can be written by typing "ST" with the left hand, "O" with the left thumb and "P" with the right hand. These keys would be pressed all at the same time and the word is written when all the keys are released.

As you may have noticed, the steno keyboard has less keys than a conventional keyboard. Not all the letters of the alphabet are represented on the steno keys so in order to type the missing letters, we use combinations of other letters. This will be covered in a later lesson.

Keep reading to find out how you can use your QWERTY keyboard to write steno!