One of my court reporting nightmares is getting back an errata sheet and seeing that the witness has simply corrected typos. “But I read that transcript!” you might say. Everyone can make mistakes or miss the obvious, as we know, so the following are the extra measures that I personally utilize to provide court reporter quality. My goal is to consistently produce the most accurate, readable, and understandable transcripts.
Know your rules and be consistent
Whether you turn to Morson, Gregg (Sabin), Wakeman Wells, some other guide, or a combination, your own personal standards for punctuation are essential to producing a great transcript. We each have to also decide what level of quality we’re going to demand from ourselves. How much or how little will you let slide?
Run spell-check in CAT software
This is the most basic spell-check, at least if you’re on Case CATalyst. I rely on this to catch spacing errors, repeated colloquy, missing punctuation, and sometimes wrong words.
Run spell-check in Microsoft Word and, even better, Grammarly
With these tools, I’m looking for incorrect words and the occasional punctuation corrections. It might seem excessive, but I run both spell-checks because they catch different word and punctuation errors.
A word of caution: I realize some Grammarly suggestions are not correct; however, it is really great whenever you can find a wrong word that was previously missed. Personal example: “Manly production” instead of “mainly production.”
I use the free Grammarly for Microsoft Office app, and there are other options available for using Grammarly. Two advantages of using Grammarly for Office are that there is no page limit (on the website, the limit is 60 pages at a time), and you’ll only have to copy and paste the transcript once.
Here’s what you do: Copy the transcript from your CAT software, paste it into Word, and run that spell-check and Grammarly. As you find any corrections you do want to make in the transcript, go back into your CAT software and make the correction there. Time-consuming, yes; but, again, fabulous when it saves you from missing the obvious and potentially embarrassing mistake.
Trust no one when it comes to proper nouns and ANY unfamiliar terminology
This applies to the entire transcript and should be practiced from the beginning. When I perform quality control on a transcript, I look up all unknown names of people, places, companies, etc., as well as all unfamiliar terms. I never assume that how it sounds phonetically is correct or that no one will notice if I leave it spelled incorrectly because I didn’t look it up. Google is one of my best friends.
Even when it comes to the title and appearance pages, I don’t trust the notice of deposition or the attorneys’ business cards. Names can still be wrong in the caption, and I go to the firms’ websites for each appearance. Websites can be outdated, too, but often it’s the most up-to-date contact information.
I’m always grateful for the chance to fix an error before the final goes out, so I hope these suggestions might be helpful to provide court reporter quality to you and your clients. As always, THANK YOU to all of our Pittsburgh court reporters, affiliates, and clients. “Your best deserves ours.” Click here to schedule our best.