Make the record easy on the eyes, please

UN StenographerI was updating my blogroll and checking up on some of those links in preparation for a re-vamp of this site and a new blog project (more about that tomorrow), and I ran across a year-old post at Criminal Appeal I couldn’t agree with more, which starts:

Dear Court Reporters,

Having finished reading another all-capitalized reporter’s transcript it’s time to again implore you to remember that the proper use of capitalization is not simply a matter of style, but it is more a convention designed to assist the reader and prevent headaches. Capitalization helps the reader find the beginning of the sentence. Lower case letters are easier to discriminate from each other.

Style and ease of reading aside, you’d think the ALL CAPS convention might have been abandoned after it was adopted in the early internet days for use in plain text emails and online bulletin boards and chat rooms as a way of SHOUTING IN WRITING ONLINE. Once people got rich text format email ability (allowing for underlined, bold, and italicized type), the ALL CAPS SHOUTING ONLINE convention may have abated somewhat, but I’m still reminded of it whenever I read an ALL CAPS trial transcript.

I say we leave the ALL CAPS convention for deposition transcripts, where most of the shouting really happens!

3 Comments

  1. ALL CAPS is very easily resolved within the CAT software utilized by the court reporters of today. It is as simple as unchecking the box that says “ALL CAPS” and the transcript is automatically converted to the standard upper/lower case format which, most would agree, is much easier to read.

    Also a brief phone call or e-mail to the owner of the court reporting agency from their valued client pointing out the dissatisfaction with the transcript format would most certainly be welcomed and the situation remedied with the client as well as the reporter (at least here at our agency it would be).

  2. Sue, thank you for your comment. Perhaps you can answer a couple of questions that have stumped me for quite some time.

    1. I don’t think I have ever — ever — received a reporter’s transcript in an electronic format (except PDF) that prints with physical page breaks in the same place as the electronic page breaks, and I’ve never been able to adjust the transcript in a word processor or text editor to make it do so. If you want to print it at a readable font size, a page of transcript typically chews up 1.25 physical pages and inserts another page break there. Is this by design, to prevent copying?

    2. I have also never received an electronic transcript that allows for easy cut & paste of testimony into a brief or memorandum. Highlighting more than one line of text invariably grabs the line numbering as well as the text, so the line numbers get pasted into the brief and have to be deleted one by one. Also, most transcripts have hard returns (line breaks) at the end of each line of text rather than text wrapping that adjusts automatically, and these hard returns have to be edited out after the excerpt is pasted into the brief. Again, are these things by design? I can conceive of why someone might want the line numbers to appear in excerpted quotations. but it seems to me one should be able to grab just the text; after all, your citation to the record or exhibit will specify the page and line numbers.

    Any opinions on these issues, Sue?

  3. 1) When working with a transcript in text format, it helps to convert all the double carriage returns to single ones (so you don’t have all those blank lines). In Word, search for <^p^p and replace it with ^p. Change the font to a comfortable size. Then adjust the page margins so the breaks happen in the same places.

    2) In Acrobat or Word, you can select any rectangle of text by holding down the ALT key while selecting. This isn’t perfect but it does let you avoid the line numbers. (On Mac, this tip works in both Acrobat and Preview, which does a better job cleaning up the copied text).

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