Basic Number Bar

The final key on the steno layout is also the biggest one. It lies on top of the whole layout, accessible with any finger from the top row. The number bar is used in steno to produce digits.

The number bar is functionally just one key. On some steno machines it is split into many parts for comfort or aesthetics.


Single Digits

Pressing the number bar alone doesn't do anything. Instead, it behaves sort of like a shift key that turns keys into numbers. If you just press the bare number bar, unless you have it mapped to some translation, you will just get the pound symbol #. You need to hit the number bar with certain steno keys to get digits.

The mapping from steno keys to numbers is as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 0 6 7 8 9

Subsequent strokes made with the number bar will attach to each other. So if we stroke #S the output is "1". If we stroke #S #T #P the output is "123".

Note that the order is pretty predictable, except the 0 which is sitting in the middle of the layout. It can be remembered by noticing that the O key looks like a zero.

For fingering, you can hit the number bar with any finger you like. Some people hit it with the letter they are using (for example, #S would be the pinky in the crack between the number bar and the top S key), and others hit it with the same fingers all the time (such as the middle finger, which is the longest).

Multiple Digits

If you hit multiple steno keys at the same time as the number bar, you will get the equivalent of pressing them all in steno order. "123456" can be written in just a single stroke with #STPHAF.

Using multiple digits, we can break down large numbers into just a couple strokes by writing down the parts that are in steno order. For example, "1384257" can be written in three strokes with #SP-L #H #TAP.


The last tool we will learn about for the number bar in this introduction is reversal. By adding the chord EU to our number stroke, the steno order of the numbers is reversed. #TP is "23", #TPEU is "32".

In Plover's dictionary, only pairs of numbers (10-98) are reversible by default, but you can get the rest of the possible number chords by adding a supplementary dictionary. This will allow you to go up to #STPHAOEUFPLT: "9876054321".

Now we can write complex numbers like "602208" in just two strokes: #TOEUF #TOL.


1. Translate

Write the English sentence represented by these outlines, including punctuation.

  1. E H #TO OR SO TP-PL

2. Find Outlines

Find steno outlines that will write these English sentences, including punctuation.

  1. She is 40.
  2. He had 500.
  3. Step 1: start.
  4. 90210.

Can you write 90210 in just two strokes?

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