Chorded Keyboard

Stenography uses a chorded keyboard. On a chorded keyboard, you hit multiple keys at once, instead of one at a time. All keys are released simultaneously and the order that you hit them in doesn't matter.

Steno Order

Steno keys are always processed in the same order. No matter if you hit "H" then "U" or "U" then "H" on the keyboard, the chord is always processed as "HU".

The full steno order is:

#STKPWHRAO*EUFRPBLGTSDZ

The left-hand side gives us the starting sounds (onset), the center gives us the vowel sounds, and the right-hand side gives us the ending sounds (coda).

Most stenographers will memorize steno order, either in study or as a consequence of reading raw steno notes. For now, you can refer back to this lesson while you are still learning. If you are ever on your machine and want to know steno order, just mash every key then release, and steno order will pop out!

Home Row

Unlike a keyboard, stenography's entire layout is almost fully covered by just its home row. The home position for stenography is between the cracks for each set of keys.

The only keys not covered in the home row are *, -D, and -Z. To hit these, your fingers will need to shift to the side during writing. Otherwise, your hand position never changes which makes for great ergonomics.

Finger Position

Each finger is responsible for just two keys, except:

  • The left pinky which only has one: S
  • The right index which has three: *, -F, -R
  • The right pinky which has four: -T, -S, -D, -Z

Of note, some users use the left index finger to hit *. It is a matter of personal preference. It is okay to use either or both hands.

Backspacing

Instead of backspacing letter-by-letter, stenography backspaces one chord at a time. To "undo" the last stroke, simply press the * key (the asterisk key).

Practice

1. Pattern Recognition

For each raw steno chord, identify whether or not it is in steno order.

#STKPWHRAO*EUFRPBLGTSDZ

  1. SKTA
  2. SPA
  3. TSUN
  4. PAP
  5. AH
  6. TKPBAODZ
  7. KAT
  8. TAC
  9. ZAOPL
  10. SOS
  11. HROF

Remember, steno order is firm and is never broken. Without a consistent order stenography would be much more ambiguous and confusing.

Solutions

  1. SKTA Nope, K comes after T.
  2. SPA Yes!
  3. TSUN No, S comes before T and there is no "N" in steno order at all.
  4. PAP Yes!
  5. AH Nuh-uh, H is always on the left of the vowels in steno.
  6. TKPBAODZ Negative, the "B" doesn't exist left of the vowels. If we changed the B to a W it would be okay.
  7. KAT Yes!
  8. TAC Wrong, no C in steno order at all.
  9. ZAOPL Incorrect, Z is the final letter in steno order, it would never start a chord.
  10. SOS Yes!
  11. HROF Yes!

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