What is steno? What is stenography? What’s a stenographer? How does a person type fast enough to keep up with what someone says word for word in real time? How fast can someone type? What is that weird little machine that stenographers use to type?
If you don’t know what stenography is all about, this is your chance to find out! 🙂
Steno: Using a shorthand machine to phonetically “type” (we actually call it “write”) what people say word for word.
1 ) Certified court reporters use a steno machine to transcribe every word that is said during an examination for discovery, deposition, arbitration, live trial, and hearing to later prepare into a transcript. Transcripts are used to argue a case for lawsuits and other legal proceedings. Court reporters can write (we don’t call it “typing”) up to 225 words per minute at 97% accuracy.
2 ) Stenography is also used for live captioning for accessibility purposes and anyone who wants to read the subtitles when watching a TV show or movie or video. Those live captions that you see on TV? (that people tend to make fun of about being inaccurate because a word or two is misspelled?) The captions are actually really accurate; 98% accurate most the time (that’s only two errors per every 100 words spoken). Most people tend to get caught up on the funny mistakes only.
The captioner uses a steno machine to write these words to be posted on your screen (no, it’s not a robot that does it and AI/voice recognition software will never get that good anyway).
Captioning TV program from the comfort of your own home(Photo from https://asraonline.com/)
3 ) Deaf or hard-of-hearing students may need the assistance of a stenographer (CART provider) to help them succeed in school by providing instant transcription of what is being said in a classroom or meeting. Fun fact: Some stenographers who CART for an entire course sometimes receive an honourary degree for doing so!
A CART provider helps provide instant captions for those in a classroom setting(Photo from https://www.deafinc.org/cart.html)
A CART provider in a classroom setting(Photo from https://dcmp.org/learn/270-working-together-for-families-and-schools-pepnet-and-the-dcmp)
To say the least, stenographers are VERY important people. It’s necessary that more people become educated about this field and what this amazing keyboard can do.
Learning how to steno professionally (it takes 2 to 4+ years to get up to speed) can give you unlimited potential to work anywhere in the world and make a six-figure income.
So how is it done?
This short video below shows Stan, a talented stenographer, explaining how steno and shorthand is done.
Here’s a 4-minute video that briefly explains how a steno machine is used in the courtrooms:
A 81-second video that explains how a steno machine is different from a regular QWERTY keyboard:
Try your hand at typing steno using your computer keyboard with this cool interactive website to see what it feels like to be a stenographer.
For anyone who wants to learn how to steno (type faster than a QWERTY keyboard) for fun in a non-professional setting, you can do so by purchasing a simple steno keyboard that you can connect to your computer (without the bells and whistles of a professional steno machine). Visit openstenoproject.org or Google “Plover steno” for more details.
Otherwise, if you want to become a professional stenographer and get a job as a court reporter, live captioner, or CART provider, you can attend the course at NAIT in Alberta, Canada (apparently one of the best steno schools in North America) or one of the many schools in the states. There are also many online schools in the USA that you can attend to become certified.
For fun, you can also read about a few of my early steno experiences below:
- Meeting Jade King, Superwoman of the steno world, December 2011. She can stenotype at up to 250 wpm! I was inspired to say the least.
- Attending my first ever NCRA Annual Convention in Philadelphia in August 2012.
- Job shadowing Jade King at the Lamma boat inquiry in Hong Kong, March 2013.
- My experience at the 7th Annual Asian Film Awards with Jade King, March 2013.
- Teaching Phoenix Theory to court reporting students at my school, September 2012-August 2013.
- My experience at the NCRA Convention 2013 in Nashville, August 2013.
Since I started steno, I have been working as a freelance stenographer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can read about some of my steno work ramblings here.
Thanks for visiting! 🙂
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at email@example.com or comment below! I love talking about steno! I can talk about it all day if someone was interested enough.
Fantastic article – can I share this information on my blog on subtitles?
Thanks again. Yes, you may share this information on your blog. I look forward to seeing your post. Feel free to do a link back too. 🙂
Thank you so much! Glad that you enjoy it. 🙂
So informative! This is one of the coolest this we’ve learnt this week – Thank you!!!
Woohoo! Thanks again for dropping by and browsing through my blog! Stenography is really such an amazing career path that lets you learn so much while on the job. So many people don’t know what it is that I just hope this page is informative enough to shed some light on the topic. Feel free to chat with your friends about it too!
I always wondered how someone could transcribe so quickly in court, I’m not sure I could get used to this though lol
You know what, like with everything in life, it just takes practice. I started studying it in 2008 and it’s been… 6 years now (wow, even I didn’t realize that). Although I’m still learning and building my speed to this day, my response to steno has become so automatic that my fingers just write when I hear the words. You could become used to it too if you are serious about learning it. 🙂
6 years! that’s quite the long time to be learning it. A silly question if I may? why not the regular keyboards? Or are those not accurate enough in hearings? 🙂
Well, it takes 6 months to learn the shorthand theory and then at least another 2 years to build up speed. The rest of the time is to perfect the writing. Think of it like a piano player — they are never done practicing. 🙂
The regular keyboards are simply not fast enough to keep up with the speed at which people talk! On this steno keyboard, we ‘write’ phonetically what is being said. In one “stroke”, we can write out an entire word or phrase whereas on the QWERTY keyboard, one stroke only is one letter of a word. That’s how we can keep up with speakers of 225 wpm and higher! It’s all about being fast enough to stay on top of what everyone says to provide an accurate transcript. 🙂
225 wpm, Wow. I go at 180 but that’s only because I’ve been typing on the old school keyboards since I was 8 or so. :O
Hey, wow, 180 on the QWERTY keyboard is actually incredibly impressive. Way to go! But yep, we have to hold high standards if we are to take down the record lol. We need to make sure there is accuracy and speed at all times! 🙂
What’s the record at now? is it 200+? the goal you’ve set? mmmm..come to think of it, what would be the ultimate prize if you break the record for fastest? 😀
Haha, the world record is actually at 360 wpm! It’s held by a very respected man who can steno amazingly well! I’ll be happy if I can get to 250 wpm in the next five years. 🙂 The ultimate prize would be to gain lots and lots of respect all around the world, especially from those that steno. 🙂
I’m very confident that you’ll go well beyond 250, you have passion and that alone will get you there 🙂
Haha, thank you very much. I appreciate that. 🙂
I have ALWAYS wondered what the difference was between a normal typewriter and a stenograph! One of those question that just sat in the head but never got Googled. I shall watch the vid. 🙂
There’s a world of difference! Let me know if you have any questions after you watch the videos. 🙂
I saw the vid. V. interesting.
Nice! Any questions that you have about it? It’s like playing a word piano essentially! 🙂
Not immediately although I’ll probably think of something when I’m trying to sleep!
Feel free to come back and ask me if you think of anything. 🙂
so very fascinating I will have to check out the clips and referenced content with children at my early learning centre they are so amazed my the computer and type writer getting their minds and ideas around another literacy tool with a specific purpose and job will amaze them too I think they are into superheros and It would be nice to explore a community service that gets little expose of a second thought as helping out in the big wide world. Thanks for sharing your knowledge
This was fascinating reading. Glad I clicked the link — I was here for the photo challenge. I learned shorthand when I was 17. Even though I wouldn’t have any speed today, it’s a bit like bicycling — you never forget.
Thanks for stopping by! I’m definitely sure if you picked it up again, you would be able to do it again with just a little bit of practice. 🙂
Thank you for this nice blog
You’re welcome! Thank you for stopping by! 🙂
I am a verbatim reporter trainee in Nigeria and this is the first time such training is being held in my state I.e lagos state. Please can you recommend online sites where I can purchase a good dictionary that transcribes english words into steno forms.
Thank you and sincerely look forward to your reply.
Try http://briefpedia.com 🙂
Fantastic article, it’s great to learn about what you do and how stenographers around the world do what they do!
Hi Jesscia! Thank you for your comment! Yes, indeed! I’m glad to shed some light on this field! 🙂
Oh! you’re amazing!
Lol, wow! Thanks for the compliment! 🙂
Wow this sounds fascinating! What a great ability to do this. Bravo!
Thank you! It definitely is a unique skill and trade. 🙂
can u tell me how many type of steno in world
Hi there. There are many theories of steno out there (theories and outlines of learning how to write out the words). Phoenix Theory, the one I learned, is one of them. Is this what you mean by “type” of steno?
how can i write steno in a different form??
Are you currently learning steno? What theory are you using right now? If you can clarify your question, I’ll be able to better understand it and answer you. 🙂
This is so cool, Karen. I still don’t get it (how u can type hello with 2 strokes instead of 5). I do type pretty fast but definitely not fast enough compared to you. U are too pro.
Haha, thank you, Grace. One day I’ll bring my steno machine to show you exactly how it works. Watch the steno video to see if it makes more sense. Basically, we’re combining all the sounds of a word onto a keyboard and sounding out a word to type it instead of typing out each letter.
I know, but I still don’t get it. lol for example, if I wanted to type “computer”
And there’s 3 sounds to it, how do u know it will actually show up as COM PUT TER, because u don’t have the exact letters of the words?? It’s amazing how fast your brain can process so much. Omg.
I’ll explain to you sometime in person with more examples. The word “computer” would be written as “/KUPL/PAOUT/-R” in steno. I know that looks like gibberish to you, but those were the three strokes I used to “write” the word (each stroke was separated with the /). More commonly used words actually only take one stroke to write out (phrases like “thank you” or “ladies and gentlemen” only take one stroke to “write” out). After we learned how to write out the words in full, we learn to memorize the common words and write them out together as “/KPAOURT”. Again, I know that doesn’t mean anything to you… lol.
Omg that’s like a different language! And Karen, this is the first time I am using the phone to respond to a comment. It is so cool! I downloaded the WordPress app. Omg I am so amazed by technology (I know I am five years behind) haha. Have a safe flight later! Love u!
Thanks Grace. Yes, it is shorthand lol. Only people who have learned it can “read it”. 😛 Haha, you are so silly (and behind!) Thanks! Talk to you later!
And that’s what happens when you get a new phone! Hahaha 😛 You are caught up with technology 🙂
what are the parts of steno machine?
I’m not exactly sure what you are trying to ask, but the steno machine has individual keys, a screen, stands on a tripod, and is connected to CAT software for transcription.
Interesting to read about the steno machine. When I trained to be a secretary, ages ago, I learned stenography too (system Groote) , but written by hand. Afterwards we had to type out the manuscript, so much more work than using the machine.
Yes, it is a lot more efficient now but we still use shorthand essentially as the foundation. The only difference is that the stenotype machine is connected to a CAT (computer aided transcription) software so that the translations appear immediately in text on the computer.
Wow, that’s efficient!
Yes, it really is! That’s how captioners and CART providers work as well.
Is steno good for making career in India !?
It can be good if you can reach realtime speeds to work anywhere in the world but the skill is good also just for transcribing purposes.
Wow! This is one of the best thing I’ve learnt about. All power to you, I just simply love the way you present the information to your audience.
By the way, what’s your current record of stenotyping?
Thank you! 🙂 Probably around 230 or 240 wpm in bursts.
OMG! You’re amazing!
Thank you! 🙂
how i can prepare of steno
where did you get your wave customized at?
I’m not sure what you mean. I use a Diamante machine, not a Wave.
I like this very much. Your writing and the resources shared here are exemplary.
I came here because my mom used to tell me about steno when I was little. She however described it as “hand writing steno” ( I don’t know if that exists) : a particular way of writing symbols so she can take notes ( my mom was a secretary in a hospital) and transcript it later.
Ah, welcome! Your mom did shorthand writing, the precursor to the steno machine! 🙂 It’s a dated method of transcription for sure, but there are still some shorthand writers around.
I don’t know if she still can shorthand, but she is always making fun of me because I don’t use the right fingers when typing on my computer keyboard ^^
Ask her if she still uses it. I’m sure she recalls it easily. 🙂 Haha, learning QWERTY keyboard is indeed a valuable skill to have in the modern world! Your kids may make fun of you one day as well! 😉 (Assuming you aren’t already a parent!)
I thought that it was a great idea to ask her to write me anything in steno, but unfortunately she doesn’t 😦
Who made the transparent and light-up steno machines, and where did he/she/they get them?
I wish I knew the answer, but I don’t know.
wow! this is amazing, how much does it cost to get it?
You mean the steno machine?