California Official Court Reporters Association

Read / Write Like a Court Reporter


The stenowriter keyboard is no “accident,” but the result of months of painstaking research by its inventor – because on the keyboard rests the efficiency of the machine itself. Twenty-three keys and a number bar have been scientifically arranged to give maximum speed and unvarying accuracy.

All keys can be struck at the same time, like a chord on a piano. Thus, whole words, even groups of words, are written in one stroke. The fingers operate the top two banks of keys, the thumbs control the vowels.

Thanks to this scientific keyboard, the speed possibilities of the stenowriter are almost unlimited – the present official record being 375 words a minute. Operation is by touch, and comfort for all-day use is ensured by the feather-light, silent response of the keys.

This is an exact reproduction of the stenowriter keyboard:

Stenowriter - Paperless Stenowriter

Steno Alphabet

Beginning Steno

Read the notes straight across and down, and pronounce by sound. Can you imagine anything simpler?


Advanced Steno

Read the notes straight across and down. Steno outlines are unique to each reporter. In addition to the spoken word the reporter writes steno outlines to identify speakers; punctuate; insert parenthetical phrases, “notes to self,” cues for computer translation. Some reporters invent new steno outlines “on the fly” as needed.

Real-Time Steno

Reporters use the term CAT (Computer-Aided Transcription) to describe the technology that electronically links a stenotype machine to a computer. Stenographic symbols are recorded digitally and on paper. Software translates the stenotype notes into English text.

Reporters use this technology to offer instant real-time display of proceedings. Real-time can be expanded to include systems that provide video captions for deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, and into Braille for persons who are blind or have vision loss. This helps courts meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Computerized Transcript

The Commission on the Future of the Courts released a report entitled “Justice in the Balance 2020.” The Report is a blueprint for setting court goals and objectives through the year 2020. Relative to technology and the concept of paperless courts, the Report reads, in part: “The court used real-time transcription of testimony, which became available several seconds later in plain English. The trial transcript was computerized, allowing immediate full-text searches for testimony… the judge reported that technology had reduced trial time by 50 percent.”

Judges and attorneys connect their computers to the court reporter’s computer to receive real-time transcripts. The network allows them to highlight (in yellow) transcript excerpts and mark (in green) issues during the proceedings. This technology then generates an electronic database and index to search and organize information about the case.