How are Court Reporters Such Fast Typists?



One of the greatest skills of an experienced court reporter is the ability to type quickly and accurately. If you’ve ever been to a courtroom, you may have noticed a court reporter recording transcripts during proceedings. Typing quickly without any errors is a skill that court reporters or stenographers learn and gain over time. They are able to note down what is being said or dictated at up to 200 words per minute without making any errors. This brings us to the big question ā€“ how are court reporters such fast typists?


Well, the average stenographer is able to type what is dictated with an accuracy of up to 98.5%. They go through a high level of training that requires them to learn how to type quickly and accurately in a unique and special way. They do not use ordinary typing machines. Their entire training is done on a machine that is very different from the regular QWERTY keyboard.


Court reporting machines are tailored to allow for fast dictation and typing speeds. They differ from the average QWERTY keyboard found on a computer. Their unique designs enhance and facilitate fast typing speeds. Moreover, the keys on these court-reporting machines are phonetic, meaning they have sounds represented on them rather than words. This means the reporter must type using phonetics rather than actual words.


There are 22 keys on a court-reporting machine and they remain unmarked. In addition, the keyboard is divided into different halves to make it easier for the reporter to type. One half is for the right fingers while the other half is for the left fingers. Meanwhile, the thumbs rest on a special second level. The left of the keyboard produces the phonetic sounds like hard K that are commonly used while the right side of the keyboard produces sounds like ā€œnā€.


The second level, which is also the middle of the keyboard, has vowels. Apparently, there are only four vowels on this keyboard but a combination of these keys produces all English vowel sounds. The most intriguing part about this machine is that the court reporter must listen to sounds and type certain keys accordingly.


Since court reporters use phonetics rather than mere letters or words, they are able to type quickly with utter precision. Using phonetics significantly reduces the amount of time required to type, but the reporter requires adequate training to gain this skill.

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