How Steno Students Can Build a Strong Foundation with Pyramid Sentences

Pyramid sentences are an excellent strategy that steno students can use to boost their writing skills and eliminate hesitation words. This method reinforces the strokes and cements briefs and phrases in your mind, leading to enhanced accuracy and speed. By breaking down sentences into smaller, more manageable parts, pyramid sentences enable you to write with ease and without mistakes.

You can breakdown most any sentence you have heard in a dictation down into a pyramid sentence. You can also create your own sentence by using power sentences.

When you have found the sentence you want to use, put them in a word processor and do follow the steps:

Building the Pyramid:

  1. To break down the sentence, identify the different parts of the sentence like phrases you want to use, brief forms, multi-stroke words, and challenging words you need more practice with.
    • phrases
    • briefs
    • multi-stroke words.
    • challenging words
  2. If you’re not sure how to write a particular word or phrase, take the time to look up the correct way.
  3. Format your sentence. Underline the phrases, bold the briefs, italicize multi-stroke words, and highlight challenging words.
  4. To build your pyramid, simply copy and paste your formatted sentence several times, pasting it on a new line each time. The number of times you paste it should match the number of words in the original sentence. However, you may paste it fewer times if you want to focus on specific phrases. To build your pyramid, you’ll need to delete words from each line except the last one. It may seem ironic, but that’s how the technique works. To start building your pyramid, the first line should only have the first word of the sentence. The second line, directly below the first one, should have the first two words, and the third line should have the first three words, continuing this pattern until the final line.
  5. Sometimes you might have a sentence that has a string of words that can be written as phrases. You can choose whether to write the whole phrase on one line or break it down into individual words on each line. For example, the sentence “She can do it that way” can be written as “she can” in one stroke, “can do” in one stroke, “can do it” in one stroke, or “do it” in one stroke. Decide beforehand how you will write the sentence and which phrase(s) you will use, so you can practice it that way in your pyramid exercise.

She can do it that way.

She can do it that way.

She can do it that way.

She can do it that way.

Practicing the Pyramid:

  1. Start at the top of your pyramid and write the first line of the sentence. Take your time and write it until you feel extremely comfortable and accurate.
  2. Once you’ve nailed down the first line, move on to the second line and write those words without any errors.
  3. Progress to the third line and continue until you’ve written the entire pyramid.
  4. Once you reach the bottom of the pyramid, challenge yourself to write the full sentence three times without any errors or hesitation.

If you make a mistake on any line, take the time to practice it several times before moving on to the next. It’s important to correct any errors, whether they’re a shadow, stack, or just a moment of hesitation, before continuing. Remember, the goal of this exercise is to complete the pyramid without any mistakes or hesitation. So take your time and practice each line until you feel comfortable before moving on to the next. When using pyramid sentences, focus on the fluidity of your writing. Make sure each part of the sentence flows smoothly into the next. If you find yourself hesitating or stumbling, slow down and focus on the individual parts of the sentence before moving on to the next.

Try adding a pyramid sentence to your daily practice routine! Just pick one sentence to pyramid-ify each day and spend anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes perfecting it.

Just as the pyramids were built over time, with each layer carefully constructed upon the last, so too does a steno student build their knowledge, stroke by stroke, word by word. And just as the pyramids stand as a lasting symbol of human ingenuity and achievement, so too will a skilled stenographer’s work endure the test of time, capturing the words of the past and the present for generations to come.


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