Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Field Notes Steno Book

At the recent Long Island Pen Show I picked up some Field Notes Steno Books. Slightly bigger than a regular stenography notebook at 6" x 9", Field Notes has really given this classic notepad a stylish upgrade. The rounded edges mimic the traditional pocket-sized Field Notes notebooks, while the cover is a very sturdy chipboard in a deeper brown. The ink is Dictation Smudge, if anyone is interested.

Inside, the paper is ruled in the traditional steno notebook manner, with one horizontal line in the middle. I like that the color of the lines is the same as in the Field Notes notebooks: soy-based Double Knee Duck Canvas light brown ink.

As I understand it, the Gregg system of stenography, which became the standard taught in almost all US public schools by the early 1900s, had a line in the middle because when taking dictation it was easier to lift your pencil from the middle of the line than from the end. So shorthand used two columns, rather than the entire page.

As always, Field Notes provides a back cover dedicated to the relevant minutiae: A Brief History of Stenography, Steno Book specs, and an Abbreviations Guide that is illuminating (MBCC: Migratory Bird Conservation commission; SWLC: Salt Water Leak Check; DLP: Dairy, Livestock and Poultry Division).

The paper is Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 70# "Bright White" which really doesn't seem that bright. It's great for gel ink and oil based ink, not so good with fountain pens (a touch of bleedthrough), and obviously works well with a pencil. I like the old-fashionedness of this notepad and the quality of the design. Definitely consider adding one of these in your next order.


  1. Thanks for that review. I have been interested in getting one of these, though I am slightly less keen now than I was, because of that vertical line down the page dividing it into two columns. The fact that there's bleedthrough with fountain pen ink is another mark against it. Still, it looks to be a quality product...I'll think about it.

  2. The line down the middle doesn't distract much, it's a pale tan and isn't very noticeable. But the ink bleedthrough is something to consider. It's not bad, actually, but you will see it on the other page. But I like using this too much to be annoyed by that.

  3. i have used several of their products through the years and have found them serviceable

  4. The line down the middle is the classic format for a true stenographer pad. As a trained stenographer, I like it. But, I can just as easily write right over it when warranted. The weight of the paper makes fountain pen bleed-thru a non-issue for me, and I use a thick nib with plenty of ink-flow. This is a very nice, expensive steno pad.

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