Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a scopist?
A. According to the NCRA, “A scopist is a professional transcript editor for court reporters.”
The term “scopist” derives from the earliest stages of computer-aided transcription. In An In-Depth Look at the Scopist Profession, William Sober said that back then steno notes were fed into a desk-sized computer resembling an oscilloscope. The screen that displayed the notes on it became referred to as a “scope,” and the people who translated the steno on it became known as scopists.
Q. What is the difference between a scopist and a proofreader?
A. Proofreaders usually receive near-perfect transcripts in PDF format, whereas scopists receive unedited CAT files.
As your scopist, I make sure all the steno has been translated into English properly. I fix any untranslates, mistranslates, and duplicates, and help reporters build their dictionaries along the way. It is also my job to fix any formatting, spelling, and punctuation errors, as well as research spellings and other terms.
Because no one is perfect, after a scopist has worked their magic, proofreaders polish the transcript. They look for small-scale mistakes -- misspellings, punctuation errors, and inconsistencies in capitalization and numbers -- and really make the transcript shine.
Q. What version of Case CATalyst are you on?
A. I'm on Case CATalyst Version 20.
Q. Do you read steno?
A. Yes. Reading steno is one of my favorite parts of the job!
Q. How clean of a writer do I have to be to use a scopist?
A. Probably not as clean as you think. While I shouldn’t be filling in half the transcript, untranslates and errors are expected. After all, it’s my job to fix them!
Q. How will using a scopist benefit me?
A. In addition to saving you the time and hassle of editing, a scopist can help increase your profits. The best way to demonstrate this is through a cost benefit analysis:
Q. What is the process of using a scopist?
A. If you are interested in working together, I will send you my rate sheet and schedule a phone meeting. This allows us to get to know each other a little better and helps me learn more about you and what your needs and expectations are.
Once we’ve determined we’ll be a good fit and agreed on rates, I will send you a reporter preference sheet to fill out so that I can better cater to your individual editing style. To minimize the stress of forming a new reporter/scopist relationship, I prefer that the first job be around 50 pages or less and regular turnaround.
From there you will upload the transcript files to Dropbox, and I will confirm when I’ve received them and get to work!
When I’m finished editing, I will upload the edited file, along with a dictionary of any globals I created, to Dropbox and let you know your job is complete.
Q. What references do you use?
A. Morson's English Guide for Court Reporters, Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation by Margie Wakeman Wells, and A Court Reporter's Guide to Medical Terminology. I also use The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and a variety of online sources.
Q. What forms of payment do you accept?
A. Credit card, Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal.