How Stenographers Type Faster Than the Speed of Speech

Written by Lauren N. Lawrence, RPR

January 25, 2023

Have you ever wondered how stenographers, also known as court reporters, can write (type) so incredibly fast?  How do they manage to capture every word uttered during a court proceeding or a deposition without missing a beat?  It’s no small feat, and it takes years of hard work and dedication to perfect their craft.  Let’s take a look at what makes stenographers so special!


Training and Practice


Though stenography is an impressive skill, it’s not something you can master overnight.  It can require years of dedicated practice and training before you can become proficient enough for professional use.  Stenographers spend countless hours honing their skills in order to achieve accuracy rates over 96%.  They must have excellent auditory and dexterity skills in order to accurately capture speech and strong language comprehension abilities in order to understand complex legal procedures and terminology.

All the training and practice involved in becoming proficient is most definitely worth the time.  Both courtroom (“official”) and freelance stenographers can earn an income upwards of six figures without a college degree!  Aside from high-income potential, this career actually boasts a wide range of highly sought-after career benefits, including flexibility, and autonomy.


The Tools of the Trade


Stenographers are equipped with a unique keyboard called a “steno machine” that allows them to type faster than the speed of sound!  Steno machines have fewer keys than a traditional QWERTY keyboard.  The keys are configured differently as well, allowing the court reporter (stenographer) to quickly enter words by pressing multiple keys simultaneously, much like a chord on a piano.  This is the key to capturing speech at lightning speed!  It enables stenographers to enter words phonetically, writing parts of words, a whole word, or even complete phrases, like “I don’t know” at once instead of having to press individual letters in succession.

Stenographers also must stay up to date on the latest steno machines (paperless writers) and CAT (Computer-Aided Transcription) software, which converts the stenotype input into standard text immediately as the stenographer is writing.  Stenographers also use CAT software to quickly index exhibits, send rough drafts, and even stream live, real-time feeds to attorneys locally in the room, to remote locations, and even internationally across multiple countries!  Contrary to what some believe, modern stenographers are extremely tech-savvy, using the best and most accurate methods of verbatim reporting.

Smart stenographers also learn how to be excellent project managers, using tools like Stenovate to stay organized, as well as find, vet, hire, and collaborate with subcontractors, individuals called “scopists” and proofreaders.  Stenovate empowers court reporters to easily manage their various transcripts’ deadlines and details and efficiently delegate the “homework” (editing and proofreading tasks) so they can focus on their special craft:  Stenography.

By outsourcing scoping and proofreading, reporters can maximize their earning potential while actually working less, striking a comfortable work-life balance despite the high demand for their unique skill.  (Are you a court reporter?  Start a 30-day free trial of Stenovate by clicking here.)




In short, stenographers are modern marvels who type faster than the speed of speech!  It takes years of hard work, dedication, and practice for them to achieve such amazing accuracy rates with their writing skills.  From steno keyboards to auditory acuity and language comprehension, there’s no shortage of impressive traits when it comes to these highly skilled professionals.  So next time you notice or come across one in action, take a moment and appreciate just how incredible they really are!


Interested in Stenography?

The National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) holds FREE “A to Z® Courses,” which is a six-week intro to stenography, offering an opportunity for potential students to learn the alphabet in steno, write on a real machine, and decide if pursuing an education in court reporting or captioning is the right choice.  Learn more about NCRA’s A to Z program and sign up for this free six-week online program today.

Another reputable and informative introductory program is Project Steno’s Basic Training course, a free hands-on intro-to-steno course where you will learn the rudiments of machine shorthand theory.  In just six sessions, you’ll discover how the magic is done! Inquire at




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Stenovate simplifies transcript management to help busy reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to produce more pages with less hassle.

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Designed for Individuals or Transcript Teams

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More Pages. Less Hassle.

Stenovate simplifies transcript management to help busy reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to produce more pages with less hassle.

All-In-One Transcript Management Collaboration Platform

Share Files with Ease

Track Progress from Start to Finish

Built for Individuals or Transcript Teams

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