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Steno Theory

Roberts, Walsh, Gonzalez Theory

General Overview  
Support Material for Students    
Support Material for Educators      

General Overview

Theory textbook Computer Shorthand:  Realtime Theory (3rd Edition) by Allen Roberts, John Walsh, and Jean Gonzalez (better known as the Roberts Walsh Gonzalez theory textbook) is a theory textbook that has been used for many years because of its ease of learning.  Although the textbook has not been widely marketed, it has an established following. 

The theory textbook consists of 60 lessons.  The presentation of the material enables readers to write new material with ease. 

Within each lesson is a theory presentation section that clearly describes the theory principles, a drill and practice section for additional reinforcement of the writing principles, and a realtime writing section that demonstrates realtime writing principles. 

Realtime writing principles are demonstrated in the appropriate lessons but are kept as distinct sections to delay the introduction of realtime principles until readers are comfortable with writing the basic theory principles.  The realtime principles are organized in distinct easy-to-locate sections.  This methodology also enables home study students to easily learn the concepts. 

The fact that students are able to grasp the theory and progress in skill development is attested to by the number of students who have learned the theory and who have successfully passed the California Shorthand Reporters Examination.

The theory is a solid realtime theory that is endorsed both by court reporters and captionists.  It utilizes realtime principals that are logical and can be applied consistently with little or no hesitation.


The theory textbook is easy to read and understand.  Each of the lessons has a presentation portion section that clearly explains a theory concept and the keys involved.  The format of the text makes the principles stand out.  For example:


Write a -Z for words ending in a z or in the sound of z as in as (AZ), has (HAZ), and haze (HA EUZ).

In addition, a learning methodology has been painstakingly applied to expedite the process of automating the theory.

The theory lessons have been carefully prepared to allow students to reinforce theory principals by applying theory patterns.  The textbook is unique in a learning methodology constructed for skill development has been applied to the actual theory.

Note the theory patterns in the following two segments.


Short  a   Write short a with the left thumb.

   Write each of the following words in one stroke from left to right,
   such as Sal, sat, sass, at, and so on.  Read your notes after each

Be sure to practice writing the words in order from right to left.

Sal (SAL)  sat (SAT)  sass* (SAS)   at (AT)
tat (TAT)  pal (PAL)  pat (PAT)   pass (PAS) 

*Note:  Write a single consonant for words ending in a double final consonant.

Explanation to Readers:   The fingers move in a logical progression from left to right.


Long a  Write long a by stroking the vowels A EU simultaneously using the left and right thumbs.

Be sure to practice writing the words in order from right to left.

say (SA EU) sail (SA EUL) sate  (SA EUT)

ate (A EUT) tail (TA EUL) Tate (TA EUT)

pay (PA EU) pail (PA EUL) pate (PA EUT)

Kay (KA EU) case (KA EUS) 

Explanation to Readers:  The same logical progression from left to right is used with the same consonants and a new vowel.

Only single vowels are presented in each lesson with the same patterns applied as illustrated previously for ease of learning.

Support Material for Educators  

The instructor’s manual to the Roberts, Walsh, Gonzalez theory textbook is a viable tool for obtaining the best possible use of the textbook and important teaching suggestions for theory presentation.

Excerpt from the Instructor’s Manual

The approach suggested when using the textbook is to stress learning the theory during the theory class.  Many people try to teach theory and speedbuilding simultaneously.  The philosophy on which the textbook is founded is that before you can write fast, you need to know how to write.  Accuracy builds speed.  The main reason students plateau at particular levels is that they have a weak theory foundation.

This textbook was designed to help students develop a strong theory foundation through the use of theory patterns.  It contains different types of material that can be used in a cyclical fashion for reinforcement purposes.  After Lesson 5, each lesson contains presentation material, challenge material, and realtime writing principles.  It is not recommended that all this information be taught at once.

In the first pass through the textbook, it is highly recommend that you teach only the presentation material.  The presentation material does not include the resolution of conflicts.  Words are written one way.  For example, when pair is introduced, it is written PA EUR.

When the student goes into speedbuilding (skillbuilding) courses, a second pass can be made through the theory lessons introducing these concepts and the challenge material.  Additional testing material is presented in this instructor’s manual.

The cyclical approach may also be used with the lessons.  Lessons 1-30 should be completed before the student is introduced to the tape lessons.  At that time, the student should begin with Lesson 1 of the theory tapes.  That way, the student is being introduced to Lesson 31 and reinforcing Lesson 1.

The instructor’s manual also contains the following:

1. Suggestions for teaching each lesson.
2. An overview of the concepts for each lesson
3. Dictation tests for each lesson.
4. Outlines for all  self-check lessons in the textbooks.
 (These lessons can be used as review tests.)


The following supplementary materials are available:

1. READ-IT BOOKS  Practice transcription material. Students practice transcribing perfect notes. Each lesson corresponds directly to the lesson in the theory book. 
Note:  Students often can write the outlines, but they cannot always read them. 

2. COMPUTER TUTORIAL Theory lessons that correspond to the software.

3. THEORY TAPES/CDs Theory tapes/CDs that correspond to the theory lessons.



Clark State University  Robin Henegen
Ohio     937-328-8080  Extension 6037

Cerritos College   Mary Balmages
California    562-860-2451 Extension 2792

College of Marin   Thomas Holub
California    415-883-2211 Extension 8226

Downey Adult   Irene Weston
California    562-940-6242

South Coast College   Yolanda Krieger
California    714-867-5009


For further information regarding materials, please contact:  Ramon Gill at