How to Write 225 Words Per Minute With a Pen

But whenever I get a little too smug about my clever use of this hybrid technology, I like to think about the great court reporting contests of the late 1920s when legends of shorthand, like Charles Swem and Martin Dupraw, competed head-to-head against one another. They took dictation in categories like “jury charge” and “testimony.”

By 1927, the last of the National Speed Contests just between pen writers, the testimony category was conducted at 280 words a minute. That’s more than four words a second, fast even with a smartpen.

Dupraw won, for the third year in a row, with a fountain pen.

The 1919 National Speed Contest (Internet Archive)


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Dennis Hollier is a writer based in Honolulu. 

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