Application Of Shorthand Skill In Today’s Business Offices

Project and Seminar Material for Secretarial Administration

Application Of Shorthand Skill In Today’s Business Offices


For the effective discharge of their duties, professional secretaries must have a mastery of the basic office skills. These skills include Shorthand, typewriting etc. of all these skills, shorthand happens to the most important and most challenging of all.

But in secretarial departments of most tertiary institutions, most students believed that secretaries no longer write shorthand in business offices with the invention and installation of such machines e t c.

This nation has contributed to their poor performance in the course since their interest is restricted to passing the course only and not in mastering the skill.

The purpose of the study is to determine whether secretaries still apply this skill in the discharge of their duties.
In order to achieve this purpose, the research as reviewed the contributions of some anthers on the research topic. This made up their literature Review. They also selected five business organizations in Enugu state for their study. The population of her study is all the secretaries in the area of the study. They also constructed questionnaires which were distributed to all the respondents in the area of the study. These questionnaires were letter collected and the responses analyses.

After the analysis, the researchers found out that shorthand is still an indispensable tool to the practicing professional secretary in spite of the modern office equipments at her disposal. They also found out that most executives do not give office dictation often never the less, they take it for granted that the practicing professional secretary is a wizard in the art of writing shorthand.

Based on their findings, they reprimanded that students should accept the challenges posed by shorthand, take measures to master the skill and devote more time to their studies. They also recommended that lecturers should review their methods of teaching often and on to ensure adequate supervision and guidance.

Having done justice to the research topic, the researchers suggested that other project researchers should investigate those areas

  1. Factors responsible for students poor performance in shorthand.
  2. Strategies for effective teaching and learning of shorthand.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title Page
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgment
  • Abstract
  • Table Of Content
  • List Of Tables

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background Of The Study
  • 1.2 Statement Of The Problem
  • 1.3 Purpose Of The Study
  • 1.4 Significance Of The Study
  • 1.5 Scope Of The Study
  • 1.6 Research Limitations
  • 1.7 Research Questions
  • 1.8 Definition Of Terms

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 History Of Shorthand.
  • 2.2 Development Of Shorthand
  • 2.3 Usefulness Of Shorthand
  • 2.4 The Vale Of The Secretary In A Business Office
  • 2.5 The Secretary And Other Modern Office Equipment And Machine

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Area Of The Study
  • 3.3 Population Of The Study
  • 3.4 Sources Of Date Collection
  • 3.5 Method Of Date Collection
  • 3.6 Analysis Of Research Instrument
  • 3.7 Description Of Research Instrument
  • 3.8 Validation Of Research Instrument

Chapter Four

4.0 Presentation And Analysis Of Data

  • 4.1 Presentation And Analysis Of Data
  • 4.2 Presentation Of Respondents By Organization
  • 4.3 Analysis Of Data

Chapter Five

5.0 Finding, Recommendations And Conclusion

  • 5.1 Discussion Of The Findings
  • 5.2 Implication Of The Study
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 5.4 Recommendation
  • References
  • Appendix 1

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study:

Shorthand, sometimes called stenography, is a system of writing by sound; that is phonography. The New Age Encyclopaedia (1977:455) defined shorthand as “an abbreviated system of writing that utilizes symbols or short alphabetic combinations to facilitate rapid recording of the spoken word”. It is thus the system of using signs and symbols to represent sounds. This has succeeded in promoting fast writing, labour saving and time-saving phenomena. As the adage says “time is business”. Shorthand writing facilities speed and saves a lot of time when taking down spoken words. It also makes possible a verbation record of spoken words as much the same time as the speaker speaks. The benefits of shorthand writing have enhanced its general acceptability and popularity in the world of business.

With the growing interest in efficient system of business management, he inventors of shorthand feel it necessary to develop a system that would facilitate speed writing and help to reduce the problem of communication for management. They made a close study of the phonetic structure of the English language and this formed the basis of the various shorthand system in existence.

Many people are now earning their living through the use of shorthand skill. They have learned it and use it everyday. The skill would be found in business offices, courtrooms, government offices, at committee meetings – in fact wherever it is desirable to have a record of the spoken word. As a result, here are many jobs or careers in which the study of shorthand is compulsory or important. These careers include; confidential secretaries, stenographers, shorthand typists, parliamentary reporters, verbation reporters, court reporters, journalists etc.

Today’s business office is like a bee-hive with so much work, which consists principally of the secretarial and clerical activities associated with handling information. The information is needed for many decision making and therefore, it (information) needs to reach the ‘right persons’ in the ‘correct form’ at the ‘appropriate time’. Here is where the role of the professional secretary comes into play. She is primarily employed to assist the manager/executives in correspondence, literary work, getting information and other confidential matters. Her duties are categorized into primary and secondary functions. The primary functions have to do with the basic secretarial skills such as, typewriting, taking dictations, answering telephone, handling mail etc. The secretary functions involve knowledge in other areas like correspondence, communication, human relations, committee procedures etc.

The mastery of shorthand as an office skill is ‘sine qua non’ to effective and efficient discharge of secretarial duties. The competence of a secretary hinges on her ability to take shorthand notes and transcribe accurately. In fact, a secretary who cannot take accurate dictations and transcribe correctly is tantamount to a typist. That is why so much emphasis is laid on the study of shorthand as a ‘core’ course in secretarial study. It has the highest allocation of credit loads which students must excel into graduate successfully.

That notwithstanding, students continue to fail the course fearfully. It seems as if the course is a burden to most students. Inspite of their love for the profession, some students desert the secretarial department to other departments like Mass Communication, Purchasing and Supply, Business Administration and Management etc. for fear of shorthand. When asked, they would confess, ‘I can’t cope with shorthand’. True to their words, most students cannot cope with shorthand, no matter how hard they try to practice and study the course. They treat the course with disdain and even hate their lecturers calling them ‘enemies of progress’. It is important to note that shorthand is the only course (as far as I know) a student stand to get zero in, simply because he/she missed some lines during transcription. For that, students resort to several means to pass the course and not to master the skill. As a result, a great number of students graduate from the department as bad as they entered as far as shorthand is concerned. They no longer regard shorthand as the secretary’s stock-in-trade”. Most of them believe that they only have to deal with shorthand school and nothing more.

The assertion that shorthand is an indispensable tool to the secretary is to them but an age-long principle which has lost its credibility because of the advent of technology into business offices. Most of the students interviewed (which necessitated my writing on this topic) maintained that the secretarial department is merely being old fashioned by giving shorthand a ‘monarch’ position among other course. They believe that shorthand should give way for such courses as data processing, word processing, office information system, etc. and other courses that are better suited to this jet age.

The researchers being so much interested in this issue, intend to investigate the secretarial profession vis-à-vis business offices in order to determine, whether the secretary still apply this skill in performing her duties ,whether the use of modern office equipments have in any way displaced this skill

The result of this research project will go a long way in determining the importance of the skill to the secretary and its position, in relation to other courses, in the secretarial department.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

In recent times, shorthand writing enjoyed wide acceptability and applicability due to the benefits inherent in I its use. An advantage of shorthand lies in the area of its cost effectiveness. The system also helps in facilitating secrecy in business transaction and for quick recording and processing of information. The need for shorthand writers increased daily with the increase industrial and business activities. It was expected that in so far as business organizations exist; speeches being delivered; that shorthand shall continue to enjoy a pride of place in business offices.

But today, technology is taking the world by surprise. Modern office machines and equipment are being produced. These machines include the1.4 computer, word processors. Tape Recorders, Dictating machines etc.
The problem of this study of determine;

  1. Whether technological developments have affected the application of this skill in business offices.
  2. Is the practical skill of shorthand (and type writing) still a starting point for defining the role of a secretary? Is the skill still the secretary’s stock-in-trade?
  3. Do bosses/Executives give office dictations?
  4. What is the secretary’s attitude to applying this skill is it one associated with pride or contempt? Do they feel that the course should be encouraged or phased out?

1.3 Purpose Of The Study:

The purpose of the study is basically to investigate the secretarial profession in order to determine whether shorthand still maintain its role as a vocational tool that enables the secretary to obtain and hold interesting and rewarding position in business. Does the secretary still report to shorthand as a relief to the burden of writing cumbersome longhand during note taking? OR has she employed alternative measures like using Tape Recorders, Dictating Machines, Computer etc.

1.4 Significance Of The Study:

This study will help to define more clearly the importance of the skill to the professional secretary, in establishing or destablishing the importance of the skill in business today. It will also help to clear some deluding notions already conceived and nurtured by lazy students and at the same time influence students’ attitudes to this course.

1.5 Scope Of The Study:

This study is restricted to five business organizations in Enugu state; Nigerian Breweries PLC 9th mile corner Nsude, Anambra motor manufacturing company, Emene, EMENITE Ltd, Emene, Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, (Regional Office), okpara Avenue, Enugu and Nigeria Bottling Company plc, 9th mile corner, Ngwo,
The researchers intend to construct questionnaire based on the research questions and distribute to all the secretaries in these organization.

1.6 Limitation Of The Study

The major problem encountered by the researchers was that of time constraint. We would have loved to cover many business organizations for more valid and better investigations.

Secondly, most organizations refused to admit students for reasons best known to them E.g ANAMCO, Emene; Also some organizations hire typists in place of secretaries, Example Union Bank and Nigerian Bottling Co.

Thirdly, because of the limited number of secretaries, the researchers got back some questionnaires blank.

1.7 Research Questions:

The questions below were constructed by the researchers to enable them collect data for the study.
The data obtained would be analyzed (using percentages) to arrive at the findings of the project.


Is the shorthand skill an indispensable tool to the practicing professional secretary?


Has the advent of technology into modern business offices affected the application of the skill?


Do Bosses (Executives) give office dictations?


Do secretaries enjoy taking shorthand

1.8 Definition Of Terms:


The system of rapid writing special signs; stenography.


Employee in an office, who deals with correspondence, keeps records, make arrangements and appointments, for a particular member of staff.


(Rooms) used as a place of business.


Informal business communication usually without a personal signature, on paper headed “memo”.

Sine qua non:

(lat) condition or qualification that cannot be done without, essential. Condition.


Writer of shorthand; shorthand typist.


Electronic device which stores information on e.g. magnetic tape, analyzes it and produces information as required from data on tape.

Word processor:

Computer based device that have specialized programs for creating editing and printing text.

Dictating machine:

An electronic recording machine used in recording routine dictations instructions and even minutes of meetings.

Tape Recorder:

Apparatus for recording sounds on magnetic tape and playing back the recording.


Use of automatic equipment and machine to do work previously done by people.


Scientific study and use of mechanical arts and applied sciences e.g. engineering, application of this to practical tasks in industry

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