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800 Most Common Depo Phrases
Introduction and Instructions:

800 Most Common Depo Phrases is designed to help increase speed by focusing on the practice of some of the most common phrases heard in depositions. The phrases, layout, Q & A, and briefs are all designed to offer specific, detailed, and effective practice for the beginning student to the advanced student. Volume II offers more detailed practice on heavy, expert, and technical material commonly heard in depositions.

Imagine if you could have the “Test” to practice with ahead of time. Well, up to 40% of Q & A regular material is made up of these 800 Most Common Depo Phrases. By mastering these phrases, you are effectively getting a 25 to 40 percent advantage on Q & A tests! (Use 1350 Most Common Words for an even greater advantage, Book 6 in the Mastering Machine Shorthand Series).

In Court Reporting schools across the country students and teachers have used the 1000 or 1350 Most Common Words as a favorite practice tool of some teachers and students. Now you have the 800 Most Common Depo Phrases, the most common phrases heard again and again and again. This book will introduce you to many of the Most Common Depo Phrases compiled over years of listening to depositions. This list is not exhaustive nor definitive. It is the result of many years of ongoing notes and suggestions from working reporters and actual depositions.

Even up to the weeks before final printing, reporters were suggesting more phrases that by all rights could be included. Approximately 5 years of research went into selecting these 800 phrases in this book, out of thousands of choices. They are a great representation of some of the most common depo phrases. In future editions more phrases may be added, or removed.

Not every permutation of a phrase is included. Obviously, if a phrase includes a "he," it could just as easily be a "she." In these cases a "he" or a "she" is representative of either pronoun. There could also be many ways to end phrases such as "and how..." Yet only a few of the more common phrases are included: "and how long," "and how many," et cetera.


All books in the Mastering Machine Shorthand Series are designed to give the student specific and detailed practice, yet provide enough variety and creativity in design to allow students from multiple theories and speeds to use the books, CDs, and tapes as part of an effective practice routine. This will better be explained below.

Volume II of 800 MCDP is split into 12 parts, 17 through 28. The common phrases are listed on the first page of each part in groups of approximately 30. Also on that page is a list of all briefs found in the following Q & A practice pages. Following the first page of each part you will find specially designed Q & A practice pages containing every phrase found in the group on the first page. Following parts 17 through 28 is a Categorical Index of all briefs used in this book as well as Volume I and many other helpful briefs used in the Mastering Machine Shorthand Series. Volume I contains an Alphabetical listing of these briefs.

Follow these instructions for each part, 17 through 28: Practice the group of briefs, going down the column, then left to right. Then try to write each column without error; if you make a mistake, go back to the beginning and start over. If a word or phrase causes you hesitation, you can look below for a brief for that word or phrase, if there is one available. However, do not be too quick to add a lot of briefs (more on this later). You should be able to write the group quickly, without error, at your goal speed and push speed. To practice at speed, show this book to your teacher, and he or she may be happy to incorporate reading the lists of Phrases and/or Q & A Practice as part of their warm-up routine. For personal practice at speed, purchase the accompanying CDs or cassettes. Also see "Alternative Practice" below.

The Q & A practice is a fictitious deposition created by using all 800 Most Common Depo Phrases. The Q & A is displayed in a similar format to the average deposition transcript. Each phrase is underlined in the Q & A for easy reference. Many times all or part of an underlined phrase can be briefed. All brief possibilities are in italics; However, this does not mean that phrase or word should be briefed. (See “The Briefs” sections below).

Practice the Q & A from the Book and review your notes after each part. While checking and correcting your notes against the transcript, pay close attention to the underlined phrases in the Book. If you find errors, misstrokes, or drops on any of the underlined phrases, be certain to practice that page or section again. In this way you can hone in on your problems areas and master the more regularly occurring words. If you misstroke or drop an underlined phrase, there is a greater chance that that phrase will come up again sooner than some other non-underlined words or phrases. Practice and correct everything, but focus on the underlined 800 Most Common Depo Phrases first.

Throughout the Q & A you will notice many italicized words and phrases. These are most all the words and phrases that can be briefed; however, not all the italicized words and phrases should be briefed. It is recommended that you not brief all italicized words and phrases. Here are some reasons for this caution: You may see the phrase I can be in italics. "I can be" as a whole cannot be briefed. "I can" and "can be" can each be briefed separately. You will have to choose to one brief or the other (or neither) depending upon how you write or hear the sentence. So all the italicized words and phrases in the Q & A cannot be nor should be briefed. They are mainly included as a reference to give you the option and idea of what could be briefed. Choose Wisely.

Throughout the book and Index you will find multiple theories represented. Not all briefs will work for your theory. But they are all included because another theory may have a different, better, or quicker way to write some phrases. For Example, regarding the word "and," some theories use APBD and some use SKP. By switching to SKP, if you don't use it already, you can one-stroke many common phrases, "and I," "and you," "and he," et cetera. Example: "do you" phrases. By learning the "do you" phrases you can one-stroke many of the common phrases, "do you recall," "do you know," "do you mean," et cetera. Once you learn the "endings" for "do you" phrases, you can apply them to many other phrase combinations like "I don't," "can you," et cetera.

All the briefs incorporated into this book and the Mastering Machine Shorthand Series are helpful suggestions rather than a definitive list. For this reason the briefs are listed stenographically rather than phonetically. Example: “exactly” is written as KPAEL rather than XAEL. The reason for this is so you can more intelligently learn how other theories work and decide if you want or need to change a portion of your writing. You can pick up different ways to write common words and phrases such as: KP for X, STK for “dis” or KWRO for “I don’t,” et cetera. Stick with your own theory; but if you get stuck, can’t get over a hesitation, or find a shorter or better brief, try other stenographic briefing examples provided. Another example is “intersection,” which is stenographically briefed as TPHEGS or SPW*EBGS. By giving you the actual steno strokes rather than the phonetic representation of NEKshun and INT EKshun, you can more easily understand and modify the brief for your use depending upon your own theory.

Also, it is expected that, as a court reporting student, you have the knowledge and ability to understand, modify, and incorporate these suggestions into your own theory and writing style. Newer students should stick more closely to what is taught them, but more experienced students will find they want to add, change, and/or modify their writing. An exhaustive list of briefs that matches exactly every theory across the United States is an impractical undertaking. Therefore, the actual stenographic strokes are represented so you can analyze, breakdown and/or modify the brief suggestions to fit your own writing style.


How to use the Progress Chart: When you have completed each part, put a check mark or date in the top left box of the Progress Chart—this will allow you to track your practicing habits and have a visual display of completion. When you've finished the book once, return to page 1 and start once more, this time filling in a second box of the Progress Chart as you complete each page. Some parts you may want to come back to more frequently and others you may have already mastered.


Use briefs wisely, don’t get hung up on them. Use the Brief boxes as a reminder to write the word or words in one stroke whenever possible. However, if these briefs do not make sense to you as written out, or if they cause you more hesitation by trying to remember what to stroke, it is advisable that you not incorporate that particular brief into your writing, or come back to it at a later date. The briefs are suggestions. Your writing may, and most likely will, change as you progress in speeds. If a brief doesn’t work for you now, it may make more sense at a later date or be easier to stroke once your dexterity has improved (get “Finger Drills Plus” - Book 5 in the Mastering Machine Shorthand Series).

Using all the briefs, phrases, and squeezes in this book will give your dictionary conflicts. However, the CAT systems of today are incredible at recognizing conflicts, sentence structure, word usage, et cetera, and choosing the correct word when the conflict arises. This allows you to still have a strong, clean realtime display even though you may have conflicts in your dictionary. A reporter in Los Angeles consistently has a 98.5 to 99.3 percent translation rate on almost every job; yet, she does not have a realtime theory and does have conflicts in her writing. It is best to avoid conflicts whenever possible; yet, don’t let that get in the way of increasing your speed and accuracy, especially when the computer can help you tremendously.

Students have different theories. Sometimes the suggested brief either doesn't make sense or won't work well with your particular theory. Because there are many theories taught for machine shorthand, this book contains an easy, common brief suggestion and many times a second brief suggestion is offered to accommodate multiple theories. Many theories have been researched and every effort is made to accommodate multiple theories. However, it just isn't possible to put out an all-inclusive briefs list. If the brief suggestion does not match your theory or writing style, do not be discouraged. Take the opportunity to use that suggestion and change it to better fit your writing style. The briefs are suggestions to help you write quicker and cleaner. They are not set in stone; use them and modify them to fit your writing style.

Alternative Practice: For beginning students: You may not want to identify the speakers or use the Question and Answer banks. This will concentrate your practice towards common words & phrases rather than Speaker IDs. For all students: If you think you've mastered the book, try practicing to the rhythm of a metronome or try listening to music and writing to the beats! One stroke per beat, include asterisks and corrections as a beat. This will increase accuracy, which will increase speed. It’s important you stroke once per beat, including misstrokes, errors, corrections, et cetera—no exceptions. Vary your music for faster or slower tempos.

For mid to advanced students, try practicing with the Categorical Briefs Index found at the back of Volume II (Volume I has an Alphabetical Briefs Index). Find the groupings and phrasings that you currently don’t use and begin to incorporate one grouping at a time to enhance your writing. Example: the “and” grouping; the “I don’t,” “I can’t,” “did you,” or “do you” groupings; “police,” legal,” or “directional” groupings. You will find many clusters of briefs that, with a little practice and effort, will save you time and strokes. Also, you may find it fun to be able to consistently and easily write phrases like “have you ever been” in one stroke. Once you learn the common endings for one grouping such as “have you,” you can apply them to other groupings. Be careful not to add too many groupings too quickly

Listen to the accompanying Q & A CDs or Tapes. Currently offered in 20wpm increments. All speeds from 60wpm to 250wpm will be available. Also, “Triple Speedbuilding” CDs will be available. A Triple Speedbuilding 80wpm CD will read a section at 80wpm, then 90wpm, then 100wpm, and finally at 80wpm again. By the fourth time through the material and coming back down from a higher push speed, your accuracy and speed should increase faster than a straight 80wpm Speed CD.


All the Q & A sections’ material is cut by Word Count and by Syllabic Word Count. The / symbol occurs every 25th word. The \ symbol occurs every 35th syllable—average word is 1.4 syllables. Therefore,
1.4(syllables) X 25(words) = 35 Syllabic Words.

Each Part, 17 through 28, can easily be read for a dictation practice. Each Part contains 3-6 pages of Q & A Material at varying levels of difficulty. Generally, the higher the Part number the more difficult the material. At the beginning of each part the Phrases used in that part are presented and easily used for dictation practice as well. There is also an accompanying Practice Card available which contains Only the 800 Most Common Depo Phrases which can be used for sustained or alternative practice. Also, read through the Introduction to understand the book and get additional practice and dictation ideas.

Daily Classroom Practice Format: Practice one Part per day — the group of approximately 30 Phrases and the corresponding Q & A. If your school or students can incorporate extra briefs, review the briefs box for Part 1 and select a few briefs you feel would help your students most at their current speed. Write them on the board before class for them to practice as they are being seated, if applicable.

Dictate all phrases for that part. Also try reading the phrases Left to Right rather than down so the students can’t anticipate what similar phrase is coming next and for greater dexterity. Read the list of Phrases at push speeds and beyond. Lists can be stenotyped much faster than a goal speed. Students are always encouraged to learn that they just wrote at speeds higher than their Push Speed!

Each phrase in the Phrase section will be used at least one time in the following Q & A. Some briefs in the Briefs Box will help with the phrases, but they are mainly provided for the Q & A Section. All Briefs in the Briefs box are used in the following Q & A only. Each Part Contains different Briefs used in that Part’s Q & A material.

After the Phrase and Brief Practice, dictate the following Q & A pages. Use the Word Count or Syllabic Word Count marks. Many parts of the Q & A material are taken directly from actual depos with changes made to fit the Phrases for each part. Therefore, some misspeaken words, odd phrasings, choppy and confusing interchanges are left in for a more realistic deposition experience. Volume I contains easier material and Volume II is much harder and more technical. Both strive to give a realistic feel to the Q & A material while maintaining the Common Depo Phrases framework and providing a teachable and easy to dictate product.

- Now Let's Get to Work!

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Last modified: 08/27/12