Stenographic Machine – How Do Court Reporters Write So Fast?

Court reporters are people who transcribe spoken words verbatim to written text. This means that they need to type fast to accurately record the proceedings and actions of a court case or other event. Some court reporters type using a regular keyboard, but many use a stenographic machine, which allows them to transcribe dialogue in real-time very quickly. In this article, we’ll detail how a stenographic machine works and how do court reporters write so fast with the help of stenographic machines.

What Is A Stenographic Machine?

A stenographic machine is a set of keys and a roller. The roller is connected to the machine and rolls across the keys as the stenographer types while simultaneously recording the typing on film. The roller then moves back to the stenographer to be replaced by a fresh one.

There are many different machines, but each has an identical roller and keys layout. The stenographic machine also has a keyboard, which is precisely the same size as a regular keyboard.

However, instead of using letters and numbers on keys, the stenographer uses punctuation symbols such as commas and question marks. Each punctuation symbol is marked on the roller and film with its symbol to help the stenographer identify it quickly.

How Is A Stenographic Machine Used?

Court reporters in Miami, FL, are trained to stand next to the stenographer during the court case or event and listen for dialogue. The stenographer then types the words as the speaker speaks them.

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Since a stenographic machine is a keystroke, not a letter, this means that typing speed is irrelevant. What counts is how quickly you turn and press each key and how many spaces (or characters) you can type per second with accuracy.

A court reporter’s speed depends on the type of stenographic machine used and how well they have been trained to use it. Even then, they can only transcribe speech at about 220 words per minute (wpm). However, with the proper training, a court reporter can reach speeds of up to 400 wpm.

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How Do Court Reporters Type So Fast Using A Stenographic Machine?

The most common stenographic machines are called “2- and 3-roll” machines. The reason for the two rolls is that some words are commonly used in court reports, such as articles, prepositions, and contractions. These are used repeatedly in different sentences and can be typed very quickly using a typewriter or computer keyboard.

This means that the court reporters can type faster if they don’t use these familiar words. However, with 2-roll machines, it is possible to type even faster by using techniques such as “double typing.” Double typing involves typing two sets of the same word using one hand.

Starting with the left hand, type the word slowly once. Then, using your right hand, try to type it even faster than you did with your left. The trick is to learn which words can be double-typed and which words can’t and to ensure that the stenographic machine can still read all of them correctly.

How Can You Become A Court Reporter?

Court reporting is a very niche profession, and it will only be possible for you to become a court reporter if you have the proper training. There are several courses available both on the Internet and in brick-and-mortar court reporting schools. The best way to determine the most suitable course is to search “court reporting” in your local area or visit your local trade association.

The cost of these courses varies from region to region. In the U.S., most courses are priced in the region of $3,000 to $5,000, with some available for free or very cheap. Suppose you’re still interested in becoming a court reporter after reading this article. In that case, we recommend that you look at your local court reporting association or search for more information on court reporting on the Internet before taking any courses.

Do Court Reporters Use Shorthand?

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The short answer is, “Yes.”

Many Court reporters use shorthand as part of their job.

This means that they write notes on a piece of paper rather than just transcribing the dialogue verbatim.

However, not many court reporters use shorthand for large parts of their job since it is not accurate enough to be used in court proceedings.

In addition, it is also complicated to learn shorthand correctly, and most stenographers haven’t been taught how to do this properly.

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How To Read Stenography?

Reading stenography isn’t as easy as reading standard text since the letters change depending on where they are in a word. However, it is possible to learn how to read stenography without much difficulty with a little bit of practice.

The best method to learn how to read stenography is to start by typing and re-typing some common words. It’s also advisable for you to look up some online resources to help you with the different punctuation symbols your stenographic machine uses most often.

Additionally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with shorthand for dialogue that is often said in a courtroom. Court reporters will often abbreviate common phrases used by lawyers, jurors, and judges as a way to improve their writing speed and efficiency.

Still, these abbreviations might not make much sense to those with minimal experience in stenography. There are some valuable resources online, and the best people you can learn from are those who have done it or are currently still doing it as their profession.

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Final Thoughts

Stenographers are a special breed; they work in a niche profession and can type at approximately 200 words per minute or more. This is no easy feat, and it all comes down to years of practice and dedication.

If you’re engaged in becoming a court reporter, we recommend doing some research before attending any courses. And remember: the only way to get better is by practicing regularly!

If you want to improve your writing ability, a stenographic machine might be a bit too much of an investment and won’t likely be realistic for the writing you’ll likely be doing.

Featured Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

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