Some court reporters have professional proofreaders. Others cannot afford them or do not have time to wait for the turnaround. Here are a few ideas from some fellow court stenographers to make your proofreading a little more effective. The more accurate and clean a transcript is, the more faith a client will have in your final work product.
• After the initial translation of the transcript has taken place, a general edit is done on the transcript. Take your time going through it. An “I’ll check it later” attitude may result in missing it altogether. Either make a master list of things to resolve at the end or do it as you go along.
• After editing, set aside the transcript for several hours or even a few days to give your brain a chance to forget what it has already seen. Our eyes have a tendency to play tricks on us. Stepping away from it and looking at it with a fresh set of eyes will make typos and semantic mistakes more noticeable.
• Print it out on paper full size. This will make little things like extra spaces and misaligned tabs show up better. Squinting on a condensed version of two or four panels to a page may be the “green” thing to do, but you may miss spacing issues and commas versus periods.
• Some people read better on the computer screen, while others do better on paper. Try the method you don’t normally use, then ask a friend or family member to look it over for obvious typos. Have them check another transcript where you used your regular proofing method. See if there is a marked difference. You might even consider a paper read followed by a screen read to catch as many mistakes as possible.
• Read it printed out on paper in full size. Use a blank piece of paper horizontally on the page just below each line as you read. Drop it down as you go to the next line to uncover the text. This will block out any distractions from your peripheral vision and help you concentrate on the line at hand.
• Read it with the audio file or tape recording if you have it. This will prevent missing words, incorrect speaker identification and duplicate translations. Slow it down a bit if the speaker is fast.
• Use a red, orange or purple pen to mark written changes, then circle the line number. They stand out well and the mark at the line number is an extra flag to prevent distractions.
• Read out loud slowly, preferably in a place where no one can hear you. It may sound strange at first, but for technical or choppy witnesses, it may make more sense verbally than in writing.
• Slow down. One slow read is more effective than two skimming sessions. Incorrect semantics and inconsistent spellings will stand out better.
Taking the time to create a better product for a client will prompt them to use you again. What may be just another transcript to you is very important to the attorney’s client. Taking the time to get it right is part of the service that we as court reporters provide for our clients and theirs.