How it works

Thanks to modern keyboard technology, you don't need to buy a $3,000 steno machine in order to learn stenography. All you need is a modern keyboard that has N-Key Rollover (NKRO). Most gaming keyboards have this but we recommend the Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard.

But wait! You can still try stenography right now for free! All you have to do is use a technique called "arpeggiating".

As mentioned in the introduction - A steno stroke is finished when all the keys are released. When arpeggiating, you press the first couple of keys of the chord, then as you press the third key you release the first key. Then as you press the fourth key you release the second key and so on. This means you only have a couple of keys pressed at once and all keyboards will be able to cope with this. Some keyboards will allow certain keys to be pressed together up to 8 keys at a time, but it all depends on how your keyboard is wired.

When the final key is released, the steno software will take all the keys that were pressed and turn it into the correct output. You can practice this on the next page.

We recommend using Plover as your steno software as it is currently the only free stenography software on the market and can be used with Qwerty keyboards as well as most Steno machines.

Here is an illustration of how the keys of a QWERTY keyboard map to the keys of the steno keyboard.


Qwerty Steno Keyboard


Steno Keyboard

The next page will allow you to see this interactively by pressing Qwerty keys and seeing which Steno keys are pressed.

If you would like to continue learning stenography you can follow the lessons and practice material on this website.

Please note that there are many schools of thought on the best way of using the steno keyboard. Some are focused on raw speed and efficiency but require a lot of memorisation. Others focus more on consistency and logical rules to reduce the amount of memorisation and "on-the-job" mental gymnastics required.

The steno theory taught on this site is based on the NYCI theory which in turn is based on the StenEd theory. Our preference is that focusing on logical writing rules is the best way to learn steno because it requires less initial memorisation and will reduce the mental effort required while writing to a minimum.

If you learn your theory from this site you will immediately be able to apply it to the Plover steno software without making any alterations to your style or the Plover word dictionary.