The term stenography is often given to shorthand, being used synonymous with it, John Willis in 1602 publishing a treatise entitled, "The Art of Stenography." Phonography, tachygraphy and many other names have been or now are designations of this art.
There are numerous systems of shorthand, probably upwards of two hundred, but not more than ten of practical importance. The Pitmanic systems are the ones most used, others not having the following of these systems. There are three editions of the shorthand of Isaac Pitman, differing only in minor characteristics. This system is used extensively in England and to some extent in the United States. The Benn Pitman and the Graham system are both extensively used, and are very closely related, Graham using more devices for increasing speed than Pitman. The Munson system is used by a large number of shorthand writers.
The systems not Pitmanic vary from each other as well as from Pitman writing. The letters of the Cross Electic alphabet upon the form of an ellipse and there are five positions instead of three. The Gregg system is written on the slope of longhand, has no position, and joins vowels and consonants.
The speed at which shorthand can be written is a much discussed subject. The ordinary public speaker uses 130 to 180 words per minute, and 200 words per minute is very fast writing and can be reached by few writers for any length of time. Commercial speed ranges from 80 to 100 words per minute. Few dictate 120 words per minute.
The following cut gives, in the Benn Pitman system as in common use in the United States, a specimen of shorthand writing. The Graham system- most used by court reporters- is very similar to that of Benn Pitman, but uses contractions and other expedients to a greater extent.
Transcript of the above notes:
"For the third time the Congress of the United States are assembled to commemorate the life and the death of a president slain by the hand of an assassin. The attention of the future historian will be attracted to the features which reappear with startling sameness in all three of these awful crimes; the uselessness, the utter lack of consequence of the act; the obscurity, the insignificance of the criminal; the blamelessness- so far as in our sphere of existence the best of men may be held blameless- of the victim."