How Do Court Reporters Transcribe?
Court reporters fill an essential role in all types of legal proceedings. These professionals are highly skilled in their craft and can compile accurate transcriptions at lightning speed. But how do court reporters transcribe so well? They rely on skills learned through extensive training. At Kusar Court Reporters, our team of dedicated court reporters takes pride in consistently providing our clients with accurate transcripts. You can learn more about how we can help you with our services by giving us a call at (800) 282-3376.
What Do Court Reporters Do?
Court reporters (also known as stenographers and shorthand reporters) capture the spoken word during all types of court proceedings, depositions, and other legal meetings. They produce these transcripts by using written shorthand, machine shorthand, and voice writing. Most court reporters work with private law firms and insurance carriers, but court reporting is also useful for nonprofits, government agencies, and trade associations.
The job duties of a court reporter may vary depending on the client they are working for, but some of the everyday responsibilities include:
- Attend court hearings and other legal proceedings to officially document the event in writing
- Prepare and review transcripts, ensuring that they are completely accurate and written clearly
- Capture the spoken word from multiple attendees in the proceedings
- Send transcripts to lawyers, clerks, and other court officials
- Administer oaths
What Training is Required to Be a Court Reporter?
The prerequisites for becoming a court reporter vary depending on the state the reporter plans to work in. Some states may require associate’s degrees, while others require certificate programs. Many states also require aspiring court reporters to pass the Court Shorthand Reporter (CSR) Exam. These exams are created by state organizations (such as the Texas Court Reporters Association and Court Reporters Board of California) and the specifics of the exam may vary from state to state, but they generally assess the same skills.
Regardless of whether the state requires formal education, those who wish to work as court reporters should strongly consider enrolling in a training program. Court reporting requires a toolset of several difficult skills, so a formal program is necessary for most aspiring court reporters. Classes in a typical court reporting program may include machine shorthand, legal terminology, medical terminology, proofreading, court reporting standards, and more. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) provides a list of nationwide programs that the organization approves.
What Equipment Do Court Reporters Use?
Courtroom reporters are responsible for transcribing every word in courtroom proceedings, along with nonverbal communications such as gestures and pauses. These professionals must keep up with the proceeding as it goes along, so typing accuracy and speed are key.
Court reporters use computers in conjunction with stenotype machines. Laptops can be connected to machines to produce real-time captions for the hearing impaired. Transcripts can be uploaded to the laptop for translation and preparation before being sent to the client through secure file share links. Some court reporters also use software programs in their daily duties for tasks like billing and scheduling. If you are wondering “how do court reporters transcribe,” you can learn more by contacting Kusar Court Reporting.
How Does a Stenotype Machine Work?
Stenotype machines are designed for shorthand writing, which is a necessity for court reporters. The machines type in syllables instead of letters and consist of just 22 keys, compared to a normal keyboard of between 70 and 105 keys. These keys are set up as two rows of consonants on each side with a number bar up top and the four vowel keys in the front. The keys on the left side are used to capture the beginning syllables and those on the right are used to capture the ending syllables. The court reporter uses their left hand to type the beginning consonant sounds, the right to type the final sounds, and their thumbs to type vowel sounds.
Do Court Reporters Type Every Word?
Court reporters press multiple keys at once – commonly in groups of three known as “chords.” This chording process allows reporters to capture entire syllables, words, and phrases with just one movement of the hand. By using this system, court reporters are capable of transcribing at a rate of up to 300 words per minute. The National Court Reporters Association’s Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) exam evaluates stenography skills in three categories: literary at a minimum of 180 words per minute (wpm), jury charge at a minimum rate of 200 wpm, and testimony/Q&A at a rate of 225 wpm.
Court reporters do not type every word. This is a shorthand system and the shorthand symbols will not be legible to those who are unfamiliar with machine shorthand. However, court reporters take this shorthand transcript and convert it to plain English before providing it to their clients and the court.
What Skills Do Court Reporters Need?
Fast typing and a working knowledge of machine shorthand are not the only necessary skills for effective court reporters. Some other important skills include:
- Consistent punctuality – showing up on time or early
- Confidentiality with information from the court proceedings
- Neutrality when transcribing without any editorializing
- Assertiveness – sometimes court reporters need to clarify unclear statements
Contact Our Experienced Court Reporters
If you are in search of a court reporter for a deposition or other court proceeding, the team at Kusar Court Reporters is here to help. We can provide answers to common questions and any other concerns you may have. To learn more about how we transcribe accurate proceedings, contact Kusar Court Reporters today at (800) 282-3376.