The Art of Stenography: Mastering the Keyboard for Court Reporting

July 25, 2023 2:14 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The Art of Stenography: Mastering the Keyboard for Court Reporting

Court reporting is an essential component of our legal system, providing an accurate and detailed record of court proceedings. To do this, court reporters rely on their mastery of stenography, a unique method of typing that allows them to capture every word spoken in the courtroom. In this blog post, we will explore the art of stenography and the techniques used to master the keyboard for court reporting.

What is Stenography?

Stenography is a method of shorthand typing that uses a specialized machine called a stenotype or stenograph. Unlike conventional keyboards with individual letter keys, stenography machines have a limited number of keys that represent different phonetic sounds, syllables, or entire words. By pressing multiple keys simultaneously or in different combinations, court reporters can create stenographic outlines that capture spoken words efficiently.

Mastering the Keyboard

1. Key Placement

One of the first steps in mastering stenography is becoming familiar with the layout of the stenotype keyboard. The stenotype machine has fewer keys than a standard keyboard, usually around 22-24 keys. Each key represents one or more phonetic sounds. Take the time to understand the placement of keys and their corresponding sounds to build the foundation for efficient stenographic writing.

2. Phonics and Finger Assignments

Learning the phonetic sounds of the English language and how they relate to stenographic writing is crucial. Much like learning a new language, court reporters need to understand how specific sounds are represented on the stenotype machine. Additionally, assigning certain fingers to specific keys or combinations of keys can help speed up writing and streamline the process.

3. Building a Stenographic Dictionary

Creating a personalized stenographic dictionary is an integral part of mastering the keyboard for court reporting. The dictionary includes customized outlines for frequently used words, phrases, and legal terminology. As court reporters gain experience, they continue to expand their dictionaries, making note of new words and refining existing outlines for maximum efficiency.

4. Practice and Speed Building

Like any skill, practice is essential to improving stenographic writing speed and accuracy. By dedicating regular practice sessions to stenography, court reporters can develop muscle memory and increase their writing speed. Additionally, using specific exercise drills and speed-building techniques can help court reporters become even more efficient in capturing spoken words.

Challenges and Tips for Success

1. Multitasking

Court reporters face the challenge of multitasking during court proceedings. While typing the stenographic outlines, they must also listen, process, and comprehend the spoken words in real-time. Developing excellent multitasking skills and the ability to remain focused is crucial for mastering the keyboard and excelling as a court reporter.

2. Maintaining Accuracy

Accuracy is paramount in court reporting. Court reporters must strive to capture every word accurately while maintaining a consistent high typing speed. One way to improve accuracy is to type in brief spurts and then pause to review the transcript. This allows court reporters to catch any errors or omissions and make necessary corrections promptly.

3. Continuing Education

To stay up-to-date with legal jargon, technology advancements, and industry best practices, court reporters must engage in continuous learning. Attending seminars, workshops, and joining professional organizations can provide valuable networking opportunities and access to resources that can help court reporters improve their keyboard mastery.


Mastering the keyboard for court reporting is no small feat. It requires dedication, practice, and a strong understanding of the art of stenography. By learning the key placement, familiarizing with phonics, building a stenographic dictionary, and continuously practicing for speed and accuracy, court reporters can excel in their profession. The art of stenography plays a vital role in our legal system, ensuring that every word uttered during court proceedings is recorded accurately and faithfully.

Working With Bartelt | Nix Reporting, LLC

Bartelt | Nix Reporting, LLC is the oldest court reporting firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Our experience in the industry has earned us a reputation to be proud of, and we have an experienced team who is dedicated to our clientele. Serving the entirety of Arizona, and even having clients nationwide, we are able to help every case that comes our way. We offer many different services including court reporting, video conferencing, videography, and virtual depositions. We are here to record testimony and other legal proceedings in the most thorough and precise way possible. You can count on our trained and experienced legal court reporters to take care of the legal details of your case. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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