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Plover Theory

Updated 9 days ago

Plover Theory: Learn Stenography

Stenography is the fastest way to input text. Court reporters have used machine stenography since the early 1900s to take down spoken word in realtime.

Nowadays, stenography is used for:

  • live TV captioning
  • realtime transcription of conferences and lectures
  • court reporting, especially in high profile cases where accuracy and turnaround time are important
  • coding, writing prose, chatting online, and other indirect places you would use a keyboard
  • a fun hobby

Why Plover?

Thanks to Plover, there hundreds of people who have self-taught themselves stenography with free resources online and now use stenography for different purposes at different speeds. You don't need to reach 225WPM (certified court reporter speed in the United States) to get a speed and ergonomics boost over a conventional keyboard.

The purpose of this book is to teach you Plover's steno theory. There are many different theories you can use and learn, but Plover comes with a perfectly competent dictionary for free that evolves over time. Plover theory is built on top of the personal dictionary of Mirabai Knight, the inventor of Plover.

What about other theories?

If you know about other steno theories, Plover theory is most comparable to StenEd but with more briefs, spelling disambiguators, and folded-in endings. On top of that, there are a bunch of proper names, technical terms, and medical terms that you usually wouldn't find in a student or general-purpose dictionary.

Other popular theories include Magnum, Phoenix, Philly Clinic, StenEd, and StarTran. They are very competent theories in their own regard, but their dictionaries cost money, as do the lessons. Plover Theory, on the other hand, comes from the hearts of volunteers who just want steno in the hands of everyone. You can also suggest changes to Plover's dictionary and benefit from improvements crowd sourced from the open source community.

Why this book?

I'm a self-taught hobbyist stenographer. I learned from fantastic resources on the internet, including QWERTYSteno, Learn Plover!, and many other learning resources. However, the lessons, I always felt, were dense and lacked real-world utility for me. I read through Learn Plover! three or four times, trying to grasp every subtle line, but while it teaches core theory very well, it just dumps on a bunch of briefs for common words, punctuation, and affixes as an afterthought.

My goal is to make a textbook that can be read cover to cover, with or without steno hardware or Plover running, that teaches you everything from where the keys are on the steno keyboard, to basic theory and word forming, to real-world briefs, to advanced techniques to help you squeeze the most out of stenography.

The book is incomplete as I'm writing it and reworking it all the time. I'm not an author, I'm a software developer, so feedback and corrections are appreciated, though I might not get back to you as I'm reworking the format of the lessons over and over again. You can mail me at [email protected]

I'm writing this entire book exclusively using stenography.

All the best,

Ted Morin