Court stenographers have been an integral part of the courtroom for over two centuries. A court stenographer (also called a court reporter or shorthand reporter) transcribes spoken or recorded speech into official written transcripts. To do this effectively, these reporters use shorthand and a machine called a stenotype.
Shorthand and the Stenotype Machine
While transcribing, court stenographers use shorthand. Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing technique, and it helps increase the speed of how fast a stenographer can type. In the past, handwritten shorthand was performed in courts and other legal proceedings. Now, stenographers mainly use the stenotype machine.
A stenotype machine has 22 keys. By using multiple key strokes at once, this machine helps court stenographers type over 225 words per minute. The world record is at 360 words per minute at 97% accuracy! This is much faster than what most people can type on a normal QWERTY keyboard. Being able to type fast is crucial, because court reporters must accurately capture every word spoken by all individuals during a trial or deposition. Having a verbatim record of the legal proceeding is critical, because these official transcripts will be used by the court and may be released to the public.
Stenographers and court reporters go through training that can take years to complete. Licensed court reporters must also attend continuing education courses to keep their licensure. Additionally, some important skills that court stenographers and reporters must have are the following: professionalism, attention to detail, the capability to focus for extended periods, and excellent communication skills (both written and verbal).
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