The Old Way of Writing Steno Doesn’t Work Anymore

The Old Way of Writing Steno Doesn’t Work Anymore

As a court reporting student, there is something crucial you need to know. If it hasn’t become apparent to you by now in your stenography schooling, then it will very soon.

The old way of writing stenography doesn’t work anymore. In fact, it will do nothing but harm you if you stick to its philosophy.

The previous generation of court reporters had it so much harder than the current crop of court reporters and students. They had to rely on nothing but their paper notes. No tapes (or at least not until recently), no synced audio, no automatic backup of their notes, no real-time English translation. None of that.

So back then, the idea was that as they were learning and trying to keep up with dictation, they had to “get a stroke for everything.” Even if the words were slightly mis-stroked, or wrong altogether, they would have to look back on that stroke and spend time figuring out based on context what they were trying to write at that moment so that they could translate it properly.

This constant struggle to keep up with the dictation led to the philosophy of getting a stroke for everything, which can potentially destroy all semblance of accuracy and readable notes.

If you find yourself writing this way just to keep up with the speed you’re working on, you need to stop immediately if you want to progress into higher and higher speeds.

Trying to simply get a stroke for everything hurts your precision. As modern court reporters, what truly matters is the accuracy of strokes, how clean you can make your every stroke.

Focusing on accuracy automatically increases your speed as you get more and more subconsciously comfortable with your strokes and theory. You can’t help but gain speed as you write as clean and accurately as possible.

Yes, you will have strokes that you slightly mess up. Yes, you will have dictations where you are consistently making errors. Every court reporter experiences that. What matters is what you are constantly striving for – to make strokes you can actually read (and that actually translate into English), or to just get a stroke for everything, even if it’s nonsensical.

Students who have followed me for even a short amount of time know how much I talk about how critical it is to focus on accuracy, instead of just focusing on speed. Why?

Because real-time court reporters, the ones who make over six figures a year, the ones who get to participate in amazing job opportunities, the ones who help the hard of hearing with incredibly accurate steno writing – these writers have to make sure that what they’re writing isn’t just fast. They don’t have that privilege of just focusing on that one aspect.

They have to make sure that everything they’re writing is accurate, is translating.

As a student, you should be, too. At all times. Even if you’re theory, make your strokes CLEAN, STRONG, and as accurate as possible. And if you mess up your strokes, that’s okay! Mess up with strength. Put some conviction into your error. Stroking strong is always better than writing strokes with a half-hearted indecision.

There’s more I need to tell you about how to not only get through school quickly but also how to easily pass your certification exam. You’ll really want to make sure you have the inside secrets to obliterating your steno tests by reading this.


About the Author:

Cale McCabe is a Texas-certified court reporter who specializes in helping other court reporting students pass their certification exam the next time they take it. Visit the website today at