What is a Stenographer?
And How Do They Type So Fast?
If you are like me, the first time you heard the word ‘stenographer’ your thoughts may have jumped to visions of white washed walls and an operating table or a geologist using special equipment to survey land.. alas, stenography has nothing to do with the either of those fields.
A stenographer is actually a trained transcriptionist, meaning they record spoken word into written copy; and they do it fast.
Stenographers, court reporters & transcriptionist use a specialized keyboard called a stenograph machine which has fewer keys than a conventional alphanumeric keyboard. This machine works by pressing multiple keys simultaneously (known as “chording” or “stroking”) to spell out whole syllables, words, and phrases with a single hand motion. Remember when I said they do it fast?
Stenographers are required to type at a minimum of 200 words per minute with some reaching speeds of up to 375wpm! If you want to know what that kind of speed looks like, check out this video:
This speed allows stenographers to do incredible things when it comes to live reporting: ever wonder who does close captioning? Or who those people you see pecking away at their keyboards during court hearings are? You guessed it-stenographers.
The utility of a stenographer isn’t limited to court reporting however, they are also used in live press conferences and speeches and because of their accuracy the documents they generate can be used as permanent records and legal reference.
So next time you see those subtitles at the bottom of you tv screen or see quick quotes appearing in your twitter timeline from a news story you’ll know the work that goes on behind the scene to get them there.