How to use the number bar like a steno fiendI don’t know what it is about people. They may talk smooth and slow while they’re carrying on a conversation, and then — WHAM! They hit a list of numbers and they’re rattling them off  like it’s nobody’s business. Umm…hello, I’m trying to take it down over here!

While I was reporting, numbers always made me nervous. Not because it was hard for me to hit the number bar, I was just anal about being accurate. If a plaintiff testified he incurred $595,998 in damages and I wrote $59,998, somebody’s gonna come after me. It’s one of the reasons why no matter how confident I was I had gotten every word in a depo or hearing, I would always carefully listen to the audio in that number section just to be sure I wrote it right.

Now that I’m captioning, it’s even more important I write it accurately and FAST. I tend to have weak pinkies, so my ones and nines usually end up translating as # because I don’t hit the number bar hard enough. And when numbers are flying by me so fast, a separate stroke for each number really brings down my speed.

Now that it’s summertime, the weather has been particularly challenging when it comes to being accurate and fast. Most of the country has been experiencing 90 plus degree heat. Forecasters whip out temps pretty quickly. Because of my weak pinkie, it’s not unusual for my ninety plus temps to come up #6, #4, etc. 

Last week, the subject of weather and numbers and an easy way to handle it came up in a Facebook group I belong to. One captioner shared an amazing number trick that has just blown me away. I wish I had learned this it school, because it would have made my career so much easier when it comes to the number bar. I’m going to (hopefully) explain this well enough to make it understandable. If you were lucky enough to learn this in school, consider yourself blessed.

I think we can all agree that certain numbers are easy to write in one stroke because they’re in chronological order on the steno keyboard. Numbers like 24, 13, 48, 39, and 18 are a snap to write because you can write them all at once.

How to Write Numbers Easily on the Steno Machine

Numbers like 76, 92, 84, and 99 are harder to write (and less efficient) because it requires two strokes. We all know that more strokes equal less speed when it comes to steno writing. It also opens you up to potentially hitting the wrong number. (writing 92 when it should be 93)

My friend’s trick makes writing numbers quicker and more accurate by being able to write two numbers in one stroke by adding short i to the outline to reverse or double the numbers.

For instance, say you want to write 97. To write it all in one stroke, define 7 EU 9 as 97 in your dictionary. 81 would be written 1 EU 8. 44 would be 4EU.

Here’s an example to make it easy to add to your dictionary.

A shortcut way to write steno numbers

21      1EU2 
22      2EU2 
31      1EU3 
32      2EU3 
33      3EU 
41      1EU4 
42      2EU4 
43      3EU4 
44      4EU 
51      1EU5 
52      2EU5 
53      3EU5 
54      4EU5 
55      5EU 
60      0EU6 
61      1EU6
62      2EU6 
63      3EU6 
64      4EU6 
65      5EU6 
66      EU6 
70      0EU7 
71      1EU7 
72      2EU7 
73      3EU7 
74      4EU7 
75      5EU7 
76      6EU7 
77      EU7 
80      0EU8
81      1EU8 
82      2EU8
83      3EU8 
84      4EU8 
85      5EU8 
86      6EU8 
87      7EU8 
88      EU8 
90      0EU9 
91      1EU9
92      2EU9 
93      3EU9
94      4EU9
95      5EU9
96      6EU9
97      7EU9 
98      8EU9 
99      EU9

I know it looks like a lot to add, but I was able to add them in about 10 minutes. I started out using this method when the weathermen was speaking at a normal pace. It only took me about a week for it to become automatic. Now I can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing numbers. I’ve gained so much speed now writing numbers.

If you find me clear as mud, leave me a comment and I’ll try to clarify it better. This is such a great way to handle numbers, you should definitely give it a shot to see if it will work for you.