Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Looking for The Perfect Shorthand Notebook

Years ago, in an earlier job in the civil service, I had a shorthand notebook which was just about perfect. It was made by HMSO (Her Majesty's Stationery Office - now called The Stationery Office after privatisation in 1996). In all senses this was a conventional shorthand notebook: it was wire-bound, and had feint lined paper. But the reason I liked it, was this: it had thick cardboard covers, with a hole cut into each, near the bottom. When the covers were turned inside out, and a 8cm treasury tag attached to brace them, it could be stood up to enable the typist to read what they had written whilst typing the text on a PC. I particularly liked this function, but also the light-blue cardboard front cover. The cardboard used was robust so it could be used anywhere dry and could withstand a battering in the briefcase.

Recently, I have been looking around for a similar shorthand notebook but to no avail. Most have the thick cardboard back cover, but the front cover is usually a thin sheet of glossy paper which simply is not robust enough to be used as a stand for anything at all. Even Clairefontaine's version is not up to spec (though the paper is as nice as ever).

If anyone could point me in the direction of a shorthand notebook which is similar to that old HMSO notebook, I'd be grateful for the information. I only wish now I'd ordered a few more and created a stash of them.


  1. I guess I am not entirely sure what you're looking for, although the handheld notebook ubiquitous to newspaper reporters (similar to this) might do the trick, with maybe a trip through an industrial hole-puncher?

  2. I remember those.
    I left the civil service in 2005 and by then HMSO no longer supplied stationery so these books seem to be no more.
    All the reporters'/shorthand books I see now have a rigid back cover and a soft card front so the system won't work.
    If you ever find a real one, I'd like to know.

  3. I have seen a few different ones, but they are all with a soft cover, too.

  4. Field Notes just announced a new product — the Steno. I’m not sure if it has hard covers (it’s sort of hard to judge from the photos), but it might do. Worth an email to them to ask, at least.

  5. @Koralatov: thanks for the comment; sorry I did not reply sooner. I've just found the Office Supply Geek review, and it's available here in the UK. I've admired Field Notes from afar for a while now, this may be the one...

  6. HMSO's private sector successor, Banner, does still supply them - code 910-0017. (The website is though I think you need to set up an account to order.)

    They vary; sometimes they have the stiff back and front covers; sometimes they have a flimsy cover but *two* sheets of greyboard at the back, punched, which achieves the same thing with an india tag.

    I bought a stack of them a while back and I wouldn't mind posting a couple to a fellow stationery aficionado if you wanted to e-mail me at garethbfs - at -

    The Banner ones are A5. Niceday did something similar - not punched, but that could easily be remedied - in 8" x 5", code no 183108, though I am not sure if they are still available.

  7. Hi. If anyone is still interested I have posted a picture of the aforementioned HMSO shorthand notebook on my ukmade website at ukmade at Are the office supplies and stationery in your workplace made in the UK

    1. ukmade - thanks for the picture, yes that is exactly what I had

  8. Gareth - many thanks for this - sorry it's taken me five years to notice your message. I may be in touch...