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Characteristics of an Outstanding Transcriptionist
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What are the Characteristics of
an Outstanding Transcriptionist?
by J. Marie Moran, CET

Being an outstanding transcriptionist requires more than simply typing quickly and accurately. Those skills may make you a good transcriptionist. Becoming outstanding requires going that extra measure.

Be prepared. If you are prepared to begin your new job, you should have everything you need at your fingertips in order to fill in the appropriate information and to be able to look things up quickly and efficiently. Review any log notes prior to doing the job. Make sure you are using the correct template for the job, and fill in the proper and correct information on your cover pages. Do your research on terms and names, and verify everything in order to be accurate and consistent.

Have reference books nearby or links to the same bookmarked. A couple of reference books that I use often are Morson's English Guide for Court Reporters, Second Edition by Lillian I. Morson and One Word, Two Words, Hyphen-ated? by Mary Louise Gilman. Save as favorites those web pages where you feel you can locate the most accurate information, including Black's Law Dictionary and other helpful charts for quick reference, i.e., for Roman Numerals or if you might need to translate military times.

A second computer monitor that can display log notes or other pertinent information while you are typing can save precious time, and you can easily keep an internet search engine open for looking things up online.

Research. Research is probably one of the most important things you can do in order to produce an outstanding transcript. Verify spellings, check punctuation, and make sure that consistency is always ensured throughout the document. When you verify something, make sure to add it to your word dictionary if it consistently rejects it. That way you will not be distracted each time you have to type it, and if you do spell it wrong, your dictionary will catch the misspelling.

Proofread. Proof your own work every couple of paragraphs to check your spelling and punctuation. Make sure what you heard and typed makes sense. By doing this frequently, you will be able to back up easily to re-listen and make any necessary corrections immediately.

Punctuate properly. Make sure your punctuation makes sense too. It's important that you understand proper punctuation. It can make all the difference in how a document is interpreted later. Your job is to type everything as it's heard and said verbatim. One incorrectly-placed punctuation mark can change the whole meaning of what was said.

Strive for no "indiscernibles." If you have to use an "indiscernible" parenthetical, make sure you time stamp it if you have a proofer but only after you have listened numerous times by isolating the channel of the speaker and are still unable to discern what a person has said. These should be used sparingly.

Never, ever guess at what was said. If you must, use a phonetic parenthetical. By making that notation, you are telling the reader that that is what you did. You couldn't verify the word, so you spelled it phonetically. If you have a proofer, make sure you time stamp the phonetic so that the proofer can listen also. Sometimes a second set of ears can discern what you could not.

Sharing information. Now, the characteristic of what it takes to be an outstanding transcriptionist is why we are all a part of this organization. We share information. Possibly, if you are lucky enough to work with other transcribers and reporters and proofers, you have the support of your colleagues and professionals. In addition, we have our community of court reporters and transcribers via our professional organization, AAERT.

AAERT is made up of people like us. Members are always willing to collaborate and help someone through a process to ensure that we are consistent in our efforts to offer superior products. You have years of experience at your fingertips to tap into including the message boards where you can have your questions answered by people who have helped shape our industry and have successfully done a similar job for years. You have the newsletters and forums loaded with helpful tips and information, and by taking advantage of these tools, you have a leg up on being a successful transcriber.

So to wrap up: Be prepared; use your tools; research everything; be consistent; and finally, do not be afraid to reach out to your colleagues for help when you are unsure. If you follow these simple rules, you should have no problem integrating the characteristics of what it takes to be an extraordinary transcriptionist into your daily work life.
J. Marie Moran, CET

Marie Moran is an AAERT-Certified Transcriber. She resides in Barre, Vermont. Her work career started at a law firm in Rutland, Vermont, 28 years ago. She then moved to Barre, Vermont, and worked for a legal firm in Montpelier for two years. After years of learning new jobs and trying her hand at a number of careers, including a stint in health insurance sales and working for Social Security, she returned to the legal field six years ago doing transcription full-time and working from home for a transcription company based out of Burlington, Vermont. She started working as a self-employed contractor in November of 2011 and now transcribes cases from all over the country. She has one son who is 23 years old and works in the granite industry. Barre is considered the Granite Capital of the World with the main Rock of Ages quarry located nearby. Marie can be reached at



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