Hi, all,
I've been reporting since 1993, and I was wondering if anyone has ever "changed" their writing theory? I'm sure we've all "modified" our writing styles, to some extent, to suit our needs, but I'm curious if anyone has actually switched over to a totally different type of theory. (Like we have time to learn something totally new, right?)

I had heard of the Phoenix theory a while back, and I must admit it piqued my interest enough to make me consider at least researching it further. And then someone else mentioned the Philadelphia theory... Hmmm.... Just curious... I'm always trying to further improve my writing.

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I just wouldn't sweat the computer issues.

I've never had a Stentura, but did you figure out where you turn it on?? Did you figure out how to thread the paper?? Is the ink getting to the paper clearly and evenly?? Do you know how to charge it?

Just worry about those things. If you need to type something up, read your own notes just like I'm assuming you did to get up to 185.

To my utter dismay, I was told there were more students taking the CA CSR in October typing from their notes than using CAT (computer-aided transcription), so I don't think you're too much away from the norm.
Does anyone know of any students or court reporters on this web site located in Florida? Or who know them personally.


We learned an old theory prior to real-time coming about. I freelanced for several years and then wanted to move onto CART. I had already been teaching the Roberts Walsh Gonzales theory. Instead of giving up on my original theory and starting over to accomodate real-time requirements, I decided to gradually convert it with the help of Roberts Walsh as well as a few tips from the Phoenix theory. Over the years I added other tips, tricks and strategies to make my writing air-ready for broadcasting.

I would recommend working with someone who can help you evaluate your current theory and add to it and convert it if possible. It can be done without starting over. Please email me privately if you have a question.

Best wishes!

Dawn :)
Well, as far as a "pat" dictionary, I think they're an awesome idea in a "normal" situation.

I was a reporter about six or seven years before I went on computer, and back then I "cheated" and took another reporter's dictionary who was a former classmate of mine. It was small -- think about 30,000 -- but it sure saved me a heck of a lot of wasted time.

I know there are reporters who disagree with me, but I really think you should put the emphasis on realtime/computers off for a while. I think you should just get on that new machine of yours with all your old books and tapes and start writing.

Before you enroll back in school, make sure you can write anything thrown at you -- even if you have to use longhand. If you can get your hands on a Stenomaster theory book, it probably would work so smoothly with your existing theory. It's a combination of all the old great theories with Mark Kislingbury's brilliance as icing on the top. (Try Magnumsteno.com and ask about it.)

Both Roberts Walsh and Phoenix theories will probably have you writing a whole lot more strokes than what you originally learned. I personally do not think those theories are the ones you want to incorporate into your own.

Actually, right now I really think "theory" shouldn't even be a topic of conversation for you. You learned one. You got up to 185. I'm sure it's going to come back to you quickly, even if your speed drops down to 110 or 120.

If someone gave me the choice to learn those two theories that I mentioned or my 30-year-old theory, I'd take mine in a heartbeat. Yes, I pretty much have given mine a significant overhaul, but it's such an awesome foundation theory, and I'm thinking yours falls in the same category.

Keep me posted!
Tami, and all of you who have helped me deal with this, thank you. I will take all of your advice and just get my equipment and break out the old books and practice, practice, practice... I will also look into the Stenomaster theory and well as Mark Kislingbury's .

Thanks again,

p.s. hopefully I should be getting my stuff tomarrow.
Just so you know, Therese, Mark Kislingbury is Magnumsteno.com, and he was the author of the Stenomaster theory, which hopefully you can still purchase through Magnumsteno.

Good luck!
I am a 180 student currently. I learned Sten Ed in theory class. When I was in 80 WPM, I decided I wanted something shorter. I bought the Stenomaster book and incorporated almost all of it, changing almost my entire theory, though some things are the same. It was the best thing I have ever done! I definitely believe in writing short.

If you are starting from the beginning and really need to learn theory, you'll want the Stenomaster book. It is laid out in lessons like any theory book and starts with easy principles. The Magnum Steno book is for more advanced writers. It is not laid out in lessons, but is simply a collection of briefs that is not organized the same way. It doesn't necessarily start with the easy stuff and go to the hard. It's just one big pile of very helpful briefs for those who want to modify. So which one you need depends on where you are in your journey.

Good luck!
I realize this is a very, very late reply but I felt this had to be said.

I think it's extremely tempting to blame not passing a speed or getting stuck at 180 on one's theory. I've seen it more times than I care to count, especially with Phoenix students. They hear that reporters seem to disapprove of it and jump on the bandwagon, saying they haven't passed 200 because their theory is "too long." I'd like to respectfully say that those students don't know what they're talking about. First of all, 140/180/225 are the plateau speeds that everyone since shorthand time immemorial (including pen shorthand) has gotten stuck at. Is it the fault of Phoenix? Hardly.

I'm a graduated Phoenix writer. I passed all three skills tests of the RPR 18 months after I started and now I'm a realtime CART provider and CSR less than two years after I began school. The changes I made to my theory were the ones that every single new reporter must eventually do to make their job easier, regardless of their theory. I started modifying Phoenix in my 180s but I'm sure I could've passed 225 with vanilla Phoenix, learning the ample briefs and phrases Phoenix comes stocked with but that few students choose to learn.

Here's a factoid I'm sure most Phoenix students who bash their theories don't know: compared to StenEd, CCST, RWG, and RW/RT, Phoenix has LESS strokes on all accounts and often far less mandatory conflicts to memorize. Compared to StenEd in particular, Phoenix on average has 10% less strokes. And yet StenEd has been producing graduates for many years and is often looked at as an acceptable theory for students to learn, "If only I'd learned StenEd!" The reason I think people pick on Phoenix is because it's different, not necessarily inferior. -GS instead of -RB? -GZ instead of -GS? -FB instead of *F? Sticking and asterisk in every phrase? Blasphemy!

Ask any reporter who learned any theory if they write how they did when they graduated. They'll smile indulgently and explain the facts of life to you, because every CR student has to practically have a heart attack on the keyboard to pass 225s. Then they get working, they mingle with savvy, experienced reporters, and in a few years, their writing is sleeker and more efficient.

I get the impression Stenomaster tries to take the knowledge of these first few years as a new reporter and encorporate them into the theory itself. More power to them, but that doesn't mean every other theory is inferior because it's longer. Your theory now will invariably be longer than it is when you've worked for a few years. Reporters who bash on Phoenix for being long seem to have forgotten how long they wrote as students, too.

I did my own fair share of ripping on Phoenix, but that was really more my frustration at being stuck at a speed, like I think is the case with Wade and Denise here. Now that I'm actually working, I'm glad I have Phoenix as my theory, just like I'm glad I used Magnum Steno to shorten things up to make my job easier, along with reporters from multitudes of theory backgrounds.

Phoenix's main flaw is NOT its "stroke-intensiveness." Almost every vanilla theory out there is guilty of that. I would say it's its phrasing, the over-use of the conflict-resolution /R-R stroke, and the wishy-washy way the theory materials teach (or rather don't teach) briefs and phrases. But these are never in the laundry list of complaints students have, because they compare their writing to that of seasoned experts and bemoan how much longer they write. Hello???

It's just such a shame to see students who, to be blunt, have no idea what they're talking about with Phoenix being flawed, get their complaints parroted back at them by reporters who feel attached to their own theories and look down on Phoenix's differences while forgetting that they, too, once stroked out "money" and "injury" and passed their certifications just fine.


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