How Do Court Reporters Type So Fast?
We are often asked, “How do court reporters type so fast?” Well, the answer is quite interesting to those who are unfamiliar with the stenograph machine.
The Man (or Woman)
First, there is the highly trained court reporter, stenographer or transcriptionist going to school for several years with constant training throughout their careers afterward.
Then there is the machine. The stenograph is the key to the speed and accuracy of every court reporter. The court reporting professional or transcriptionist must learn to separate themselves from how words are spelled and think purely phonetically. The key presses on the steno represent sounds rather than words…crazy huh? It is actually more like the chords of a piano than it is a typewriter.
With its 22 unmarked keys split into halves, one side for each hand, it is surely not your normal Qwerty keyboard. There is also a second level of keys that the thumbs rest upon making for one interesting machine. The left-hand side of a court reporting machine contains initial phonetic sounds like the hard K sound of the word kite. The right-hand side of the court reporting machine contains final phonetic sounds like the N sound at the end of the word woman.
Then we come back to the court reporter. They do not care nor even think of how a word is spelled, the meaning or even context. They only think of what sounds in the words that can be translated into finger movements. Thanks to this machine, the required 225 words per minute with 90% accuracy is all in a day’s work. Some Court reporters have been known to reach speeds of 375 words per minute and 90% accuracy. Kind of makes you wonder if there is anything a court reporter cannot do.