What stenographers do is create real-time transcripts of court cases, meetings, or television programs as quickly as possible, for TV closed captioning or for official records. Stenographer typists typically work with a typewriter-like stenotype machine. This’s different from other stenographers who use a steno mask. Stenographer typists undergo extensive training, and court stenographers must have a license. In some cases, some stenography typist positions require the ability to type 225 words/minute. Although a stenographer’s main job is to create fast transcriptions, there are other duties they’re meant to perform as well.
What Does Stenographer Mean?
The word “stenography” is probably older than any modern stenotype keyboards or machines. It comes from the Greek “steno” which means narrow and “graph” – meaning writing. “Narrow writing” described by systems as shorthand, back when conversations were transcribed by hand. Hence, a “stenographer” is simply, a shorthand writer who does stenographic court reporting. Modern-day stenographers use shorthand typing machines called stenotypes in writing. Stenotypes allow stenographers to type at rates exceeding 300 words per minute. In contrast, to an average speaking speed which is about 150 words per minute. This fast rate of writing allows high-quality stenographers to keep up with conversations that’s complex, even when multiple people may be speaking in a court or event setting, at the same time.
How Does Stenography Work?
Today stenographers use stenotype machines to write shorthand. A stenotype machine works by typing in syllables rather than letters. An example is writing a word like a calendar which only requires 3 strokes; instead of the 8, we use on a regular keyboard. Going forward, to create complex and varied sounds as quickly as possible, each stroke of a stenotype will typically involve numerous keys. By pressing three keys at once (called a “chord”), they can make the syllable “cal”, then en and dar. In the time it takes to type three individual letters, a stenographer can easily type words with the help of a stenotype machine.
Stenography involves a condensed form of typing, a stenotype keyboard has only 22 keys, compared to normal computer keyboards, which have between 70 and 105 keys. The stenotype machine can be so condensed because of the chord system — by combining keys, you have hundreds of combinations to make different syllables quickly.
What’s the Difference Between a Stenographer and a Court Reporter?
Court reporters are stenographers, but the trick is not all stenographers are court reporters. Stenographers can offer services beyond court reporting, services that include but are not limited to; medical transcriptionists and real-time TV captioners among others. Stenography services are widely varied in terms of difficulty and the importance of accuracy.
Court reporters are specialized and highly trained stenographers. Considering their extra training and certifications; they make the documents that are admissible as evidence in court. So, a court reporter must be completely accurate in their typing – especially in shorthand, so no important words or phrases are missed; that could make or break an attorney’s case. More so, court reporters must learn an entire process and set of legal vocabulary that they can use in the courtroom while in turn navigating the stenotype machine.
Responsibilities of a Stenographer.
Here are the main responsibilities of a stenographer;
They edit Transcripts.
Once a dictation session is over, stenographers review the computer-created transcript in search of errors. This includes; ensuring the use of correct terminology, editing spelling mistakes, and correcting other inaccuracies.
They Help in Filing and Distribution.
Stenographers’ responsibilities include filing electronic or paper copies of a given transcript and providing access to the transcript to qualified parties. Stenographers also respond to queries about specific transcripts then print and email copies when necessary.
Stenographers are required to be Trustworthy.
A stenograph typist who works in a court has a great responsibility of being trustworthy. A stenographer must remain accurate and objective at all times, a stenographer produces legal documents that could, in some cases – be a matter of life or death. In the case of taking a deposition outside a courtroom, a stenographer is responsible for administering the witness’s oath, more so responsible for taking proper custody of a resulting statement.
A Stenographer Must Be Knowledgeable
A stenographer typist goes through a series of rigorous training processes in which a stenographer learns how to use the stenotype machine and gets training in general writing skills and legal proceedings. More so, a stenographer must also master a specialized vocabulary – either legal or medical term. After completing their training, A stenographer typist is then certified by the National Court Reporters Association and in turn, is licensed to practice stenography.