How Does the Stenograph Work?



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How Does the Machine Court Reporters Use Work?

The average person can type somewhere between 30 to 70 words a minute. That speed is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but when one then learns that court reporters are trained to type over 200 words a minute with an accuracy rate of 97.5%, they are floored. Court reporters go through intense schooling to develop this skill, but they work with a special tool that allows them to hit these speeds: the stenograph, or shorthand machine.

The stenograph is a special machine that allows court reporters to record what is said during a legal proceeding phonetically. The keyboard, made of 22 keys, is separated into three parts:

Initial keys

The left side of the keyboard, also known as the “initial keys” consists of initial phonetic sounds. For example, the starting sound in the word “can,” the “K” would be on this side.


Final Keys

The right side of the keyboard is referred to as the “final keys.” This side consists of the final phonetic sounds. For example, in the word “can,” the final ending sound is “N.”

Second Level

Below the initial and final keys is the second level. This is where the thumbs rest to record vowel sounds. While there are only four vowel keys, court reporters can represent all vowel sounds using these four keys.

There is one final key to mark the occasional error– an asterisk. With these 22 keys, court reporters are able to record exactly what was said, how it was said. This ability is what makes court reporters a valuable resources, even as audio recording technologies exist. Only certified court reporters can provide transcripts the clearest transcripts in the correct format, precisely on time.

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