The Importance of Shorthand in Journalism, Legal and Medical Professions

In today’s fast-paced world, time is of the essence. Journalists, lawyers, and medical professionals work in industries where accurate and timely communication is critical to success. This is where shorthand comes into play.

We use shorthands in every aspect of life without even realizing it- common examples include the use of “LOL” for “laugh out loud”, “BRB” for “be right back”, and “AFK” for “away from the keyboard.”

Shorthand is simply a method of writing that uses symbols and abbreviations to represent words and phrases. It is an essential skill for those in journalism, legal, and medical professions, because it allows them to quickly and accurately take notes during interviews, meetings, and other important events.

In this blog post, we will discuss exactly why this ancient form of writing maintains such importance in these careers.


Journalists must work on tight deadlines and gather information as quickly and accurately as possible. This is where shorthand comes into play. 

Shorthand allows journalists to take notes quickly and efficiently during interviews and press conferences. It helps them to capture quotes, key phrases, and important details that can be used in their articles. Without shorthand, journalists would have to rely on memory or use longer note-taking methods, which could slow them down and potentially lead to mistakes or inaccuracies in their reporting.

Similarly, journalists usually carry audio recorders to capture what has been said in the events. However, listening to the tape recordings later can be an issue, since background noise can make it difficult to understand what is being said. It would also be double work for journalists to transcribe and then again write the article or report on the same thing. Therefore, shorthand plays a significant role in replacing the difficulties created by audio tape recorders. 

Students studying journalism can also benefit from learning and applying shorthand. It helps students take notes faster during classes and review them later. Students using shorthand can take more accurate notes and avoid confusion. 

Shorthand is particularly useful when covering court cases, where reporters must take notes on lengthy legal proceedings. Court reporters are often required to produce transcripts of the event, which means they need to be able to take accurate notes quickly. Shorthand makes this possible, allowing them to capture everything that is said without missing important details. In addition, shorthand will enable journalists to be more efficient and produce their work quickly, which is essential in the fast-paced world of journalism.

Let’s say a journalist is covering a speech by a politician. As the politician speaks, the journalist can use shorthand to quickly take notes on what the politician is saying. For example, instead of writing out the politician’s full name every time it’s mentioned, the journalist could use shorthand to jot down the word quickly. The journalist might also use shorthand to note important points or quotes from the speech.

Here’s an example of what the journalist’s notes might look like using shorthand:

● “LM. B. Richford speaks on healthcare reform:
● B. R: support healthcare reform
● Opp>>> too costly
● But we can’t afford to not reform
● Everyone deserves access to care.”

In this example, “LM. B. R” is a shorthand way of writing the politician’s name, “Lawmaker Blake Richford” The shorthand notes make it easier for the journalist to quickly capture the main points of the speech and use them to write an article later. Similarly, “Opp” means “opposition”, and the symbol “>>>” indicates “saying.”

Therefore, learning shorthand courses can be a real value for money for journalists, journalism students, and reporters. It helps to save time, make notes efficiently, and gather information accurately. 

Legal Profession

In the legal profession, shorthand is also an essential skill.

Lawyers, judges, and court reporters use shorthand to take notes during trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. This is crucial because legal proceedings can involve complex arguments and technical language, making it difficult to keep track of everything said. Shorthand allows lawyers and other legal professionals to take accurate notes in real time, which can be used to prepare briefs, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments in court.

Some lawyers use video or audio recordings from their court proceedings to review the cases later. However, this will add complexity since the lawyers must spend many hours transcribing the audio. On average, transcribing an hour-long audio recording can take up to four hours. With court proceedings lasting anywhere from several hours to every several days, that amounts to many audio transcribing hours. Shorthand significantly reduces the waste of resources here for lawyers- be it their own time, or money spent on legal assistants.

Similarly, when lawyers use shorthand in live scenarios, they can be more present and attentive, which will help to gather information faster and store it better. They can review their notes instantly by simply flipping through their legal pads.

For example, a lawyer may use shorthand to write down the testimony of a witness during a deposition. Instead of writing out every word the witness says, the lawyer may use symbols and abbreviations to capture the key points of the testimony. This lets the lawyer take notes quickly and accurately without missing important details.

Some common shorthand symbols that a lawyer may use include:

● “&” for “and.”
● “$” for “dollars”
● “#” for “number”
● “@” for “at.”
● “w/” for “with”
● “w/o” for “without.”
● “w/i” for “within”
● “p/” for “per.”
● “e.g.” for “for example.”

Moreover, shorthand can help legal professionals to save time, which is critical in a profession where time is money. By using shorthand, lawyers and court reporters can capture information quickly and accurately, allowing them to spend more time analyzing and interpreting it. This can be particularly useful during trials, where lawyers need to think on their feet and respond quickly to arguments made by the other side.

Medical Profession

In the medical profession, shorthand is used by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to take notes during patient consultations, procedures, and other medical events. This is important because medical terminology can be complex and difficult to spell, making taking notes quickly and accurately challenging. Shorthand allows medical professionals to take notes efficiently and accurately, which can inform treatment decisions and track a patient’s progress over time.

For instance, medical professionals can use ‘x’ to indicate an accident instead of writing accidents, saving them time during patient diagnosis. Their main work is to diagnose their patients as fast as possible and relieve them of their discomfort. Therefore, we can only expect doctors to take notes briefly.

As well as their responsibilities for diagnosis, medical professionals need to communicate with their patients. Not just in getting to the root of the problem, but also in explaining its consequences and potential treatment. When they spend a long time taking notes, it can make an uncomfortable situation even words for the patient. Therefore, shorthand plays a big role in medical professionals’ lives to help them save time and focus on the more important tasks.

A doctor might use the shorthand “SOB” to document a patient’s symptoms of shortness of breath. A nurse might use the shorthand “PRN” to indicate that a medication should be given as (“PRN” stands for “pro re nata,” which means “as needed” in Latin).

By using shorthand to write down commonly used medical terms and phrases, medical professionals can create a standardized system that can be easily understood and used by others in the field. Moreover, shorthand can help medical professionals to communicate more effectively with each other. Doctors and nurses often work in teams, and shorthand allows them to share information and collaborate on treatment plans quickly. This can be particularly useful in emergencies, where time is of the essence, and quick decision-making is critical.

If you’re interested in learning more about shorthand, you can explore some shorthand courses offered by Pitman Training.


In conclusion, shorthand is an essential skill for those who work in the journalism, legal, and medical professions. It allows them to take notes quickly and accurately, which is critical in industries where time is of the essence. 

Shorthand can help professionals save time, communicate more effectively, and produce work more quickly and efficiently. 

It also allows them to capture important details and information that might be missed with other note-taking forms. 

If you are considering a career in any of these professions, it is worth exploring shorthand courses. In fact, even if you aren’t, you may find it a useful ‘hack’ that stands you in good stead in whichever direction your life takes you!