4 Skills That Make For A Good Court Reporter


Many have relinquished the study of Stenography
on account of difficulties appearing at first sight to be insurmountable...

-From the book Stenography: Or A Brief and Simple System of Short-hand
By Morris Coleman, 1858

Important Court Reporting Skills

So you want to be a court reporter? Court reporters have an incredibly important job. They take the spoken word and capture history in the making. There are a multitude of skills required to become a court reporter. This article - while not exhaustive - is a good place to start to see if you have what it takes to become a court reporter.

1. Court Reporters Strive For Accuracy
Are you a detail-oriented person? Court reporters need to be conscious of the finer points of several subjects including grammar, transcription and the stenograph machine. You'll be a great court reporter if you're good with details and enjoy striving for accuracy.
  • Are you a person who is detail oriented?
  • Are you a person who shows up on time?
  • Are you a person who likes to be professionally dressed?
  • Are you a person who is easily stressed out?
  • Are you a person who is confident in front of others?
2. Court Reporters Have Good Grammar Skills
Much of what a court reporter does is punctuate what others say. As a court reporter you will be spending almost as much time punctuating and proofing transcripts as you will be in court or in a deposition. A good court reporter needs to have excellent English grammar skills. One simple rule is to use short sentences. In other words, use a period as soon as possible and avoid the over-use of the comma.

3. Court Reporters Strive To Be Excellent Though Not Perfect
Court reporters strive to be excellent listeners as well as stenographers; however, nobody is perfect and an unhealthy sense of perfectionism can actually be a hindrance to becoming a court reporter. Are you a perfectionist? Successful court reporters strive for excellence instead.

4. Court Reporters Are Diligent
Like learning any new skill, becoming a court reporter requires diligent effort. And once one becomes a court reporter, diligence and hard work are expected. If you are a person who perseveres and consistently can work towards a goal, becoming a court reporter just might be the right profession for you.

These four skills are just some of what it takes to become a successful court reporter. The good news is that any individual can learn these skills even if they don't happen to posses all of them in the beginning. With patience and hard work, you can become a court reporter and enjoy the many benefits of working in the legal field.
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

  Comment by Felicia | Monday, October 26, 2015
What is opinion for a brand spanking newbie in court reporting school supplementing with the Magnum Steno?
  Comment by Felicia | Monday, October 26, 2015
What is opinion for a brand spanking newbie in court reporting school supplementing with the Magnum Steno?
  Comment by Dorothy Jean Oliver | Sunday, November 29, 2015
Mr. Olivas (Todd):
Thank you for that 2008 blog on what it takes to become a good court reporter. Every now and then, even a seasoned reporter would benefit from going over those simple suggestions.
I am currently in Florida working as a court reporter with two court reporting firms. We have been notified that we will be transferred back to Texas in February of 2016. We will be located in Georgetown, and I would like to cover the Georgetown to Waco area.
Your firm has been listed on Stenosearch as a firm that covers those areas. Would you please consider my visiting you for an interview? We will be in Georgetown, as currently scheduled, on January 1. Thanking you in advance.
Dorothy J. Oliver
(713) 835-7159

  Comment by Annie Frances | Thursday, May 19, 2016
It makes sense that court reporters should have good grammar skills. They are writing everything that`s going on in the courtroom and therefore need to be understandable. I like that you differentiate between excellence and perfection too. A court reporter is a stressful job and I can see why they shouldn`t get distracted by what they can`t do. Rather, they should focus on what they do well and keep improving. Great post!
  Comment by Alex Dean | Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Being in the courtroom lately, I was curious to know what it takes to be a good court reporter. I like how you pointed out that one skill they have is that they are diligent, since they are doing nothing but listening and making sure that everything being said is recorded. That is something that I can respect when it comes to people who work hard every day.
  Comment by alena | Saturday, September 9, 2017
My sister is getting her degree in English and wants to do something with it after she graduates. She`s really into learning about the law, so I think being a court reporter would be a good option for her. Especially, since you need good grammar skills.
  Comment by Lillian Schaeffer | Thursday, April 26, 2018
Thanks for bringing to my attention the importance of accuracy when it comes to court reporting. That makes sense to me because they`re trying to get down everything that is being said in the court. Making sure every detail is accounted for would be really important. http://warereportingservice.com/court-reporters.html
  Comment by Lloyd Bronson | Thursday, October 10, 2019
I`m glad that you mentioned that it`s important to not strive for pure perfection, only opting for what is humanly achievable. My friend from college is looking to hire a reporter for a case. I`ll help him out by doing my own research on the subject. http://landlcourtreporting.com/services
  Comment by Lyla Peterson | Thursday, October 17, 2019
I`m glad you mentioned that court reporters should strive for excellence instead of perfection. I think it is common for high achievers to be perfectionists, but it may be healthier and more productive to simply strive to do your best. Thank you for the advice. Court reporting is a field I would definitely like to learn more about.

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