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Speed Typing

13,000 abbreviations free / ABCZ Abbreviation System by Jon Knowles / Jon Knowles' Website / A nonmedical abbv system, Braden / Another nonmedical abbv list, Tony / Comments from forums and Email / Speed typing discussion 1997 / When to Learn Speed Typing / Smartype Homepage / Instant Text / Examples of Abbreviations / More Examples / Using Steno for MT Work / Homepage

2/99, Mary: Instant Text Glossary now available with the 13,000 abbreviations. QuickScript usable in Email and on message boards.

9/98, Mary Morken. Just received release from Smartype to post my 13,000 abbreviations here; they are now in public domain and free to anyone to use with any program. Smartype still sells them installed in Smartype format. See link above to "13,000 abbreviations" for the list.

5/98, I'm now looking for the best program to use on the Internet, in E-mail, message boards, and web sites. I've tried Abbreviate! and found it very usable, but am hoping PRD+ for Windows will go faster, when it comes out. Always hoping for sharper tools! I'm still using Smartype and PRD+ together for transcription in WP5.1. Search MT Daily for many more comments about speed typing on message boards.


5/96, Please see the Smartype Homepage listed above for information about Smartype. The information below is about my own project of customizing my copy of the old Smartype, and should not be confused with the Smartype program now available. Smartype gives a 30-day trial with return privilege.
12/2/95, I have been using my customized copy of the old Smartype vocabulary for several weeks now, and I am sure that I am going faster than ever before, sometimes keeping up with the dictator. Of course, it will be months and maybe years before I make up for the time lost adding the abbreviations, but I sure enjoy typing this way in the meantime. Very few words have to be typed out completely, and very few words have to be added. Now I am renewing my WP51 dictionary to use as second spellchecker after Smartype, filling it with new drugs and terms (see spellchecker lists) so it does not stop unnecessarily. Now that it rarely finds a new word, I'm filling the supplemental dictionary with the doctors' names, local names, and letter-number combinations the doctors use so it won't stop on those either.

For DOS WP51, I still think Smartype is the fastest; for Windows, Instant Text is going to be exciting, but Windows is still slower than DOS, in general.

8/28/95
I have begun to believe a complete speed-typing system is going to be the fastest text generation, at least until continuous voice is available. I have learned that the steno system of court reporters and scopists was created in 1860 or so and that it is a basic system with room for personal adapting with variations possible. Court reporters share ideas about different ways to phrase things, just as we are doing. Hope to pursue this further to learn from their example. Who knows, some day we may be called "Medical Reporters" with the mystique of our own typing language like them. I have learned that it was the actual machine that standardized the system for court reporters. It takes a year of training to get up to a good MT speed, however.

I am still completing my vocabulary for my own version of ST and have received good ideas by email. Am now using copd=COPD, copdx=chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc., with x remembered as standing for "expand" which seems easier to remember than the next letter of the last word.

Headings are now done this way:
hpi=HPI
hpix=history of present illness
hpic=History of Present Illness: (c remembered for "colon") (:)
hpib=HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS: (b remembered for "big")

I tried using a different starting letter for some terms and found this very awkward. I decided that the phonetic flow of abbv language is important to speed; thus, I'm sticking to using the same first letter of the word for the abbv. I am finding letters faster than numbers, tos=2/6, ooc=1 o'clock, etc. It seems that abbreviations which can be said like a word, though nonsense, are easier to remember. I am now using th for the, tha for that, with better accuracy.

I dream of all the abbv software owners adopting the same abbvs for future upgrades, so people could change software and not have to memorize new ones. I am encouraged at how many hundreds of words are abbvd by the same principle of the first two letters of the first part of the word, first two letters of the last major part of the word, phonetically determined; and the first two letters of each word for two-word phrases. My work is ideal for the broadest medical vocabulary since I do general hospital typing, including psychiatry and including histories and physicals. I don't do many letters though. I think it is best to have a complete vocabulary, since every specialty includes some of it; perhaps specialty vocabularies can also be created in time.

I am no longer using single letters for any abbreviations as they are needed so often for initials or L, J, U, M for measurement units, etc. I am mailing my vocabulary off to the Smartype programmer for debugging and consultation. They are very interested in this project for a future upgrade and encourage our open brainstorming. Joe Weber and his wife created Smartype several years ago when they suspected voice would never become popular but would cause us to want to type faster. Remember, this is only for WP5.1 and WP5.1+.


July 1995

After I learned to combine words commonly used together to make a semicontinuous, voice recognition system, I realized the potential of a more extensive abbreviation system for typing, for both speed and better accuracy. Wanting the flexibility of using the fastest typing and voice, I have been working on a complete typing abbreviation system.

I still do not know whether voice can go faster than this kind of speed typing, because of the need to redictate and pause between phrases when using voice. This abbreviation system works well with voice as well--that is, the words that are combined and spoken as one utterance can be the same, or the abbreviations can be spoken as words. I now have an estimated 40,000 words and abbreviations, with room for a total of 58,000. Using Smartype and PRD (until Smartype is updated), I have created a system where the great majority of words and phrases are abbreviated by using the first two letters of the first word or major part of the word, and the first two letters of the second word or part of the word. Many other phrases are simply abbreviated using the first letters of the major words. It is a five-tiered system:

1. Memorized abbreviations which I have added (and anyone can add their own to smartype) of words and phrases based on a logical system, with reminders on the screen to aid recall. Sometimes there is more than one abbreviation for the same word or words for handier recall by different logical patterns. (50% of typed words are abbreviated.)

Example: As the abbreviation is typed, it appears on the screen separate from the typing line: hygl=hyperglycemia, albu=albumin. Thus, you can proofread before you enter the whole word and change it before it expands.

2. Typing the first few letters of the word until the right word pops up by statistical frequency of use. This is the basic method of using Smartype. (10% of words are typed this way)

3. Typing all but the last 1-3 letters of the word. (10%)

4. Choosing the word from the word list at the bottom of the screen and typing the number of the word to have it inserted. (1%)

5. Typing the whole word out. (Used only for small words that cannot be reduced, words that are proper nouns, and new words not yet in the vocabulary which are easily added without retyping.) (29%)

Abbreviation system:
1. Slang: thot=thought, wud=would, altho=although

2. Single letters for initials and measurements, and p=pain.

3. Two letters for very common words: al=also, bc=breast cancer, wi=with

4. Three letters for a few five-letter words, omitting vowels: lvl=level, vst=visit

5. Three letters for three-word phrases or first three letters of word: con=contraction, sob=shortness of breath

6. Four letters for most long words, using the first two letters of the two main syllables: hytr=hypertrophy, hogl=hypoglycemia

7. Four letters for most phrases: tpwp=the patient was placed

8. Added letters when needed to distinguish from similar terms. Less frequently used terms have more letters added.
Example: t=the, th=that, tha=than, thal=thallium

9. Endings are attached to the words: s=s, ed=d, ing=g, ion=j, ment=m, ous=us, ly=y, t=ist, ive=v, able=b, er/or=r, ful=f
Example: estas=establishes, estad=established, estag=establishing, estam=establishment.

10. Letters for numbers in combined terms: lfso=L5-S1, and j used for a marker: sjo=S1, sjt=S2.

11. Lowercase for uppercase: copd=COPD

12. pk for %, kp for +.

13. Exceptions to the rules where necessary for easier memory: zl=approximately, app=approximately


Example: These are the keystrokes for the start of an operation:

Tpwp int prpo. Thba wpdusf. A 4inc wama itm and cado ttf. Thfa waspl itm wi boca. Asrr wapl and bles wecau.

Text printed: The patient was placed in the prone position. The back was prepared and draped in the usual sterile fashion. A 4-inch incision was made in the midline and carried down to the fascia. The fascia was split in the midline with Bovie cautery. A self-retaining retractor was placed and bleeders were cauterized.


I would like to compare my abbreviation system with others and encourage those using abbreviations to use them to full capacity. A comparison of 3-4 abbreviation systems created by different MTs showed many abbreviations in common, and my hope is that we can pound out the best consensus of a system that students could learn right from the start of their training, thus training for speed as well as learning vocabulary. Perhaps continuous voice or some new technology will make it unnecessary for us to create abbreviations some day.
3/15/96, Kathy Karjala, Testing Mary's Abbreviations
As some background, I had never used any abbreviation programs before. I had customized my WP5.1 keyboard (I use 5.1 in a Windows environment) to make macro execution easier, and I was using approximately 1500 macros regularly. I was typing at speeds in excess of 120 wpm, with a full-day hourly average of well over 80. I was experiencing some discomfort in my hands and arms.

Except for a minimum number of words and phrases that I needed to enter as unique to my clientele, virtually every word I ever wanted always came up for choosing whenever I wanted it. Within about three days, I was typing steadily, and within a month my speed had returned virtually to its pre-Smartype level, but with none of the physical discomfort. Over about six weeks, my speed gradually increased.

During this time, I was still very much drawn to Instant Text, so much so that I eventually ordered it. I thought that I would use it for, perhaps, e-mail entry, or for another client of mine, which requires very detailed scientific typing on an arcane subject, with very specific vocabulary. And I longed for sentence continuations. However, when I got it I was disappointed with the way it worked. I returned it, but my return crossed in the mail with the new version, 1.03, so when it came I decided to give it another try.

Here are some of my thoughts on comparing the two. I would hope that these discussions will enable future users to be able to not have to try both, but perhaps that is what it will always come down to, because what seems to be important is how each user responds to the very different techniques of input and the requirements of each person's production.

One thing I like about both IT and ST is that the end result of any combination of letters typed shows up on the screen. Thus, you don't have to remember any particular abbreviation; you can try out several combinations and see what is going to be produced. Also, you can see several of those choices (10-12 on the first screen, and with ST you can Page Down to see more at once. With ST you either keep typing to bring your choice up, or you type a number to do so. Once it is on top, you execute with a space or with punctuation.

With IT, you have a choice of either phrases or words. If you want a word, you simply keep typing--and it's nice that you don't have to type all the letters, just the next unique one. You execute with a slash. If you want a phrase, however, and you see six different phrases all beginning with the same combination of letters, you must hit either Ctrl or Shift to highlight your phrase, and then must execute with a semicolon; I think you also have choices of [ or ].

Well, that was the first thing that set me back. Mary said IT did not flow naturally as language; I think that IT does not flow naturally as typing. I don't like to have to add the thought in that sometimes I use a slash, sometimes a semicolon, and sometimes a space (if I have typed out the entire word).

One reason I don't like Windows word processing programs is that, for a speed typist, taking hands off the keyboard to handle a mouse slows you down enormously. Likewise (for me), having to learn to use a semicolon instead of a space between words seemed like something I would not choose to change to.

With IT, I used a large document group to create my glossaries, but many common phrases (like "CBC, differential, platelets, and liver function") didn't come up at all. Also, many words weren't there. Now, I know that part of this (the words especially) would have been the same had I started out with ST without Mary's vocabulary, but it still just didn't act the way I thought it would. Even though there were many continuations, it was awkward to have to look down at the list and assess it and then use the Ctrl key to pick the one I wanted. I don't want to have to use my eyes so much; it slows me down.

I use a lot of hard spaces, and hard and discriminatory hyphens. I do not like to have months and days split, like "March" on one line and "13, 1996" on the next. I do not want x-ray to split at the hyphen, but I do want through-and-through to split at the hyphen. Because IT put everything into generic text, I lost all the hard spaces, and the hyphens all became non-splitting. What I would gain in speed or ease of entry would be lost in the proofing. The way I type now is to type it right the first time, and then if line lengths change because of later spelling changes or editing, I don't have to worry about the splits being in the wrong places. Perhaps many other typists out there don't care about this, but it is important to me. Smartype can handle that need of mine.

With Smartype, even though you don't have to memorize abbreviations, if you do happen to memorize easily, then you don't have to look at what's coming up, because each phrase or word does in fact have a unique identifier. With IT, since many phrases would come up with the same combination of letters, there was no way to customize each. If the one I wanted wasn't the most frequent, and therefore on top, I couldn't just type to get to it, I was forced to use the Ctrl or Shift key, which breaks my typing flow. Also, with IT each phrase must always consist of exactly the first letter of each word. To me, that's awkward. I don't think in terms of exact words in that regard. In ST I have some abbreviations like that, for instance, ATCOTC for "at the completion of the case," but I find that, in terms of speed, typing out that particular phrase is barely worth it. So, while IT may in fact use fewer keystrokes, to me those keystrokes are not natural typing, and do not increase my speed.

Now, I will say that I'm quite sure anyone can learn anything and get faster, and so if I needed to, I could get fast with IT, too. Mary said she would use IT if she "were a non-typist," and I can agree with her; not that one would need to be a non-typist, but I wouldn't switch now unless I were disabled in some way and unable to continue typing in my present way. If I lost a hand or something and still wanted to support myself doing medical transcription, I would switch to IT in an instant. But right now, I don't see that it can offer me any more speed than I have, and it would require a big adjustment. To me, IT just doesn't "think" the way I do. That doesn't mean it's not a great program--it has many nice features and I'm sure will be terrific for many people--but for my individual style it's just not right. I wouldn't even use it with ST's vocabuary dumped into it--I don't like the semicolon and slashes instead of spaces, and I don't like not having the ease of creating phrases using more than just the first letter of the words.

There is no doubt that IT is easy to use and easy to set up, and has many different possible applications. However, for me personally, what I care about is producing my work accurately and as quickly as possible. ST and IT are both very good programs, with very different feel to them, and thus appealing to completely different people. Each has good points, each has drawbacks. . .In the first 20 minutes of using ST, I knew that it would work well for me, and I knew in the first 20 minutes of using IT that it would not, and I hope this will help others decide as easily as possible which group they fall into.


2/5/96, Kathy Karjala, new user of Smartype with abbreviations: I am now going slightly faster than 1:2, and probably now faster than I was going before I started to use ST. I really do like your abbreviation list and am of course still finding new and useful phrases. Even though some things were alien to me at the beginning (I never did any sort of speedwriting and so the J for "shun" was quite strange; I used to use N myself) and I changed a few things to match macros I have used for years, I can see that this system offers much more flexibility and comprehensive coverage than my home-grown earlier macro use (and of course I only had 2000 or so).

For me, being able to approach 1:1 means a real dramatic change in both financial and time possibilities. It used to be that a 1-hour tape would take me 1 hour to download and at least 2 hours to transcribe, thus 3 hours total. If I can approach 1:1 and thus keep the phone charges down to a reasonable minimum, then a 1-hour tape would take, say, 1.3 hours to do. Thus, the actual expenditure of time is 1.3 versus 3. The phone bill would be higher, but so would my ability to produce more work, and psychologically it's enormously more acceptable.

It's pretty exciting to think you're being successful at live transcription. For one thing, I so often couldn't hear something on my taped stuff, and when I would ask my colleague (who has the original dictation) to listen, or even play it over the phone, it was clear as day! So there will be time saved not having to fuss over that kind of stuff, too. My work is primarily for an outpatient surgery center. So I get a lot of podiatry, plastic surgery and breast reduction/augmentation, ophthalmology and cataract operations, orthopedic foot/knee/elbow/ hand/shoulder operations, hernia repairs, and voluntary sterilizations. That sort of stuff. Then I also do a dermatologist (I had to add in a lot of abbreviations for him), an ophthalmologist who no longer does surgery, and a neurologist. I also occasionally sub in the fields of endocrinology, plastic surgery, and physical medicine/rehab. Probably about 80 doctors fairly consistently, but about 150 possible. So it's pretty varied, and your wide experience really made it easier. I think if I typed in one specialty only I might not have wanted so many abbreviations, but I could tell as I went along that your experience and mine were very similar (yours somewhat broader) and also that your lines of thinking were quite similar to mine, or if not similar at least consistent enough that I can often guess at what abbreviation you might have.

In terms of importing whole paragraphs or standards (we call them "templates"), there are three eye specialists who do have a batch of templates that we use, and a number of others who dictate the same thing so often, and are so hard to understand, that I often just copy the last one and make changes as they speak. However, with these new speeds and transcribing live, I don't think it's worth it any more; I can go faster just typing what they say this time (assuming I can tell what they are saying!). I have found that small common phrases are better than long ones simply because they are so often said in such subtly different ways. You know, "the patient was brought to" and "the patient was taken to," and then suddenly "the patient was first brought to." If you have only the long phrase, it takes too much time to back up and put the odd word in, so I make more use, I think, of the 2- and 3-word phrases since I type for so many different doctors.

I was able to use blocks to add hard spaces after the names of the months and Dr., Mrs., etc., like I wanted. I also use blocks to put in hard hyphens like in x-ray so it won't split.

The only thing that is currently hard for me is that many of my macros were real words, so I've had to give them up in this system (or use your abbreviation, which is longer). But since ST uses so many fewer keystrokes, it's not a bad trade, just a lot to unlearn.

I do love the "j" (sjo) abbreviations. The only part I still use as my macros is for 2-0, 3-0, etc., because I have to have the hard hyphen and because my macros are "20," "30,", etc., and I can't yet use the numbers in ST. (Apparently we may be able to at some point.) I also separately macro the suture type, V for Vicryl, P for Prolene, etc. But I will probably switch over on this soon, too, and just block them all for the hyphen problem, because as you said it's a lot easier to use the letters than the numbers. But my one-letter macros are still tempting!


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