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The following passage at slower speeds is read at 20wpm, 30wpm and 40wpm from Teeline for Journalists by Dawn Johnson. The pace allows beginners a little time to think before getting an outline down. Remember that you can always stop and restart the video to enable you to catch up. Check outlines you are unsure of in your theory book as you transcribe, and make a note of those you missed when taking dictation. Then drill them until they flow from your pen. When you feel confident and find it easy to get it all down at 20wpm, try it again at 30wpm and then 40wpm and then move on to the higher speed passages. Drill and check all new words that you meet using the Teeline Word List as reference.

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Remember the long / at the end of each sentence is a shorthand full stop. Be careful not to try and transcribe it as an R because of it's similarity, and note how it often touches down by accident to the line below. You can, however, write around it and so it shouldn't interfere with your transcription.


The passages read at higher speeds of 50 wpm, 60wpm, and 70wpm below are from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Fresh audio material for dictation is available from the NCTJ shop.

The key to embedding Teeline theory into your memory until it becomes second nature, which it must to achieve faster industry standard speeds, depends on repetition and practise which is why the same passage is read at three different speeds. When you feel you have mastered the higher speed, challenge yourself to hit the industry standard with ease.


Don't be afraid to tweak the outlines or amend them if they don't work for you as they are. Teeline has always been a flexible evolving system since its invention in 1971 by James Hill. It is designed to suit the user so in a sense there is no "right" or "wrong" in the way you write your outlines, but you must always be able to transcribe precisely what you take down in your notebook and it must be recognisable as Teeline.

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Having 80, 90 and 100wpm on your CV will give you a competitive edge when seeking work as a journalist in what is a very competitive industry. Thinking is death to shorthand speed but regular practise, and challenging yourself to hit higher speeds than you feel comfortable with, checking outlines and drilling words or groups that are difficult to write or unfamiliar to remember, will ensure that those outlines are at the tip of your pen the moment you need them.

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Having 100wpm will get you a job in journalism but having a more advanced speed like 110wpm or 120wpm will really impress editors and potential employers. Remember that an accurate, contemporaneous note is the best protection you can get from legal action or complaint about something you have written. If challenged to produce your shorthand notes by a disgruntled interviewee, or a court, you must be able to read them back and stand by them. A faster speed of writing will allow credibility and trust in your notes and if you have the competence to get to advanced speeds you will also have the confidence of knowing that your notes reflect exactly what was said to you in an interview - or what you recorded in shorthand notes from what you heard at a court, a meeting or an event was 110% to 120% correct.

Exam papers used by the Journalists' examining body the NCTJ expect students to pick out a particular quote from the third passage. This usually has a trigger such as "I want to say this about it... I want to make this known ... I want to make you aware of this ...I would like to make this point ... etc..." This dictation video below makes clear when the quote is about to be read but in an exam it isn't obvious so train yourself to listen out for it. For further practise, more passages of dictation that contain a quote in the third passage can be bought from the NCTJ shop


Once you have taken down your dictation always make sure you can easily and quickly read back every outline. Correct what you know you took down incorrectly, and look for ways to improve your note taking speed and ability to transcribe back. Change an outline if you have to and invent a new way of writing one if it helps with speed and clarification.

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Note my own changes circled in red. The GL blend is an invention of my own and helps me to write words like glass, gloss, glow, glue, etc.. and help me define them in transcriptions from words such as goals, gall, gale, etc.. I use PDS (for pounds) around a number to indicate currency rather than the dot next to the number suggested in modern theory books. It's a habit I adopted years ago but my outline in the Garbage Army passage was clumsy and open to mistranscription on the cost of the fine. There is nothing wrong with my outline for 5 O'clock but it's better if the oc for o'clock is closer to the number for easier transcription.

The outline "lined" (LND) troubled me because I confuse LN with the PL blend and wanted, therefore, to read the word I'd taken down in dictation as "planned". To avoid confusion in future, and limit my options in transcribing, I will use my own version of the PL blend using P with L through it for words such as planned, play, pleasure... etc...

If you have written down words such as "on the spot", which are not incorrect but you think sound as if there should be a group, check in the book Word Groupings and drill the group outline until it becomes natural to write quickly. Groupings will help to speed up your note taking so the more you can adopt and use the better.

More dictation is available here. Tips on building speed can be found here.

Tips from those who mark shorthand exam papers can be found here and are worth noting - especially the comments about punctuation.

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