What is Court Reporting?

Court Reporting is a form of shorthand, or stenography,  the object of which is to write at the speed of speech. Shorthand systems use a combination of symbols or abbreviations for letters, words, or phrases.

Shorthand has been around since ancient Egyptians started writing.  Modern, english shorthand was first popularized by Pitman and Gregg in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This entailed writing short strokes and circles with pen on paper. 

Court Reporting is currently practiced as machine shorthand, with the shorthand writing being performed on a machine called a stenograph or steno writer. The first commercially available machine was invented in 1906 by American stenographer Ward Stone Ireland. All modern steno writers are a direct descendant of this.  

Modern steno writers like Advantage Software's Passport Touch or Stenograph's Luminex, are WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled machines allowing for real-time transcription of speech, which can be streamed live over the internet or broadcast TV.  

An example of Gregg Shorthand

An example of Gregg Shorthand

An Example of Machine Shorthand

An Example of Machine Shorthand

Evolution of the Steno Machine


How does it Work?

The most common method of court reporting, or stenography, uses a stenotype machine – a specialized word processor with a modified, 22-button keyboard. Using machine shorthand to spell words phonetically, a trained stenographer can record more than 200 words per minute.


Designed for Speed

  The fingers of the left hand spell out the beginning of a syllable, the thumbs type the vowels and the fingers of the  right hand end the syllable. Single keys can be pressed, but keys are commonly pressed down in groups - like playing the chords of a piano.  



Stenographers spell out syllables phonetically, but there aren't enough keys to cover every sound. Combinations of letters are used to create missing consonants. for example, there is no "N" on the keyboard, so "P" and "B" are used together to represent that sound, e.g. the word "than" is "T H A PB" in machine shorthand.

The example to the machine shorthand, or note, on the left and the english translation on the right. Each line represents a single stroke on the steno machine. The sentence took 13 strokes to complete, this is in comparison to 62 strokes (50 letters and 12 spaces) on a traditional QWERTY keyboard.


How flexible is the work?

Today’s technology allows captioners to work from home. Due to the varied career opportunities, the role of reporters continues to evolve. Court and Deposition reporters will continue to work within the legal community as it expands in the future, as well as develop their role as information processors and managers in the business and multimedia communities. This allows persons to choose whether or not to be their own bosses, as many reporters work as independent contractors or own their own agencies.

Do you offer Financial Aid?

The New York School of Court Reporting and Career Institute is an approved Eligible Training Provider for NY State Department of Labor and Westchester-Putnum One-Stop. This program allocates state funds to training qualified individuals. Please contact your local New York State Workforce One Stop Center directly to see if you  qualify.

The New York School of Court Reporting and Career Institute allows students to pay their tuition in monthly installments.

The school is currently not offering Federal Student Loans.

What are some real life examples of stenography?

Before becoming famous as a writer, Charles Dickens practiced as a Court Reporter in London's Parliament. His struggles to learn shorthand became a subplot in the book, David Copperfield. 

The Court Reporters in the O.J. Simpson trial took down more than 1 million lines of trial transcript. 

Actor Harvey Keitel began his professional career as a Court Reporter at Century Reporting Company in New York City. 

The Court Reporter who accompanied Richard Nixon during part of his 1968 presidential campaign delivered transcripts of television show appearances to the media faster than the networks. 

A former stenographer for Paramount Pictures founded the Mattel Company and introduced the world to the Barbie doll. 

The federal judge who later became the first commissioner of baseball began his career as a Court Reporter. 

Actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Kim Delaney once studied to be Court Reporters. 

Court Reporters have taken depositions or court proceedings of multitudes of the rich and (in)famous: Elvis Presley, Bill Cosby, Joan Collins, Jimmy Hoffa, Frank Sinatra, Isley Brothers, Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, Muhammad Ali, Alex Haley, Michael Bolton, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Michael Jackson, Jay Z and others. Legal actions on behalf of all Americans are recorded by Court Reporters.

What is The Court Reporter's Creed?

"My profession stems from humanity's desire and its necessity to preserve the happenings of yesterday and tomorrow.

My profession was born with the rise of civilization in ancient Greece.

I was known as a scribe in Judea, Persia and the Roman Empire.

I preserved the Ten Commandments for posterity and was with King Solomon while building the temple.

I was with the founding fathers of the United States when they drafted the Declaration of Independence. My hand labored upon the scroll that set forth the Bill of Rights.

The immortal Abraham Lincoln entrusted me to record the Emancipation Proclamation.

I was commissioned to be with Roosevelt at Yalta. I was with Eisenhower on D-Day and with MacArthur at Tokyo.

I put into written language man's first landing on the moon for the world to read. I translate spoken words into written words for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

I create the instantaneous closed captions on television for all people to read.

I have kept confidence reposed with me by those in high places, as well as those in lowly places.

My profession protects the truthful witness, and I am a nemesis of the perjurer. I am a party to the administration of justice under the law and the court I serve.

I discharge my duties with devotion and honor. Perhaps I haven't made history, but I have preserved it through the ages.

In the past I was called a scribe. Today I am the Court Reporter that sits in the courts of my country. I am the reporter who is the keeper of the Congressional Record of the United States.

I am the verbatim Court Reporter!"

  *** (William Parson's revised 1991 adaptation of a speech given by C.W. Jones to the 1964 meeting of the Kansas Shorthand Reporters Association) ***

How long does it take to start a career?

Within two years, you can be on your way to a rewarding career in Court Reporting According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Court Reporting jobs are projected to grow faster than average. With an average New York State salary of $98,000, careers in Court Reporting and Closed Captioning are lucrative options for individuals seeking job security. We are licensed by the New York State Department of Education and our experienced faculty has been devoted to training successful Court Reporters for over 20 years.


When did the profession begin?

 1588 Timothy Bright's "Characterie; An Arte of Shorte, Swifte and Secrete Writing by Character" published and he received a patent for his shorthand system from Queen Elizabeth 1602 John Willis' "Art of Stenography" published 1750 Thomas Guerney's "Brachygraphy" printed in Manchester 1767 John Byrom's "Universal English Shorthand" published in Manchester 4 years after his death 1772 Thomas Guerney appointed by the English Government as its first official shorthand writer 1786 Samuel Taylor's "An essay intended to establish standard for an universal system of stenography" published in London 1829Isaac Pitman took up Samuel Taylor's shorthand 1837 Isaac Pitman "Stenography Sound-Hand" published. Pitman shorthand became the ever first subject taught by correspondence. Jacob Pitman, Isaac Pitman's elder brother, took Isaac's "Sound-Hand" with him to Australia 1839 The First Phonetic Institute opened at No 5 Nelson Place, Bath by Isaac Pitman 1843 The Phonographic Correspondence Society established in the United Kingdom 1844 Samuel Morse demonstrated to the US Congress the practicality of the telegraph by transmitting the famous message "What hath God wrought" over a wire from Washington to Baltimore 1846 "A Phonographic Dictionary of the English Language" the first ever Pitman dictionary published, containing 12,000 outlines1851 Isaac Pitman won a bronze medal at the Great Exhibition for his printed shorthand 1852 Benn Pitman arrived in America and introduced Pitman shorthand. Benn Pitman established the Phonographic Institute of Cincinnati1855 Benn Pitman's "The Manual of Phonography" published. Pitman's Third Phonetic Institute opened at Parsonage Lane, Bath. The first Shorthand Speed Certificates issued by the Phonetic Institute in Bath. 1857 The revised vowel scale introduced by Isaac Pitman but not adapted by many American writers. J Graham's "Brief Longhand" published in America 1862 Duplicate hook fr, vr, thr, Thr and large hooks for fl, vl, shl, ml, nl introduced by Isaac Pitman 1864 The Royal Society of Arts began shorthand examinations 1865–7 Benn Pitman led a team of 5 stenographers at the trial of President Lincoln's assassin 1867 wl and lr introduced to the Pitman system. John Robert Gregg born on 17 June in Shantonaugh, County Managhan, Ireland. Benn Pitman's "The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators" published 1869 kw introduced into the Pitman system 1870 The Pitman's Metropolitan Schoolopened in London 1872 Seventeen enthusiastic writers of Pitman's shorthand established the Phonetic Shorthand Writers Association in Great Britain 1873 wh added to the Pitman system 1879 Miles Bartholomew received a patent in America for the first shorthand machine 1884 The double-length principal extended the Pitman system. The "Pitman v Hine copyright action. The "Acropolis of Athens" depicting 4th century BC Greek shorthand discovered in Athens 1886Pitman went into partnerships with his sons Alfred and Ernest to form Isaac Pitman & Sons. The first million copies of the "Phonographic Teacher" sold in Great Britain 1890 Pitman shorthand included in the British School Code. National Phonographic Society formed. 1892 The "Pitman's Shorthand Weekly" established 1893 John Gregg opened his first school in Great Britain. Gregg moved to the United States of America. Gregg's "Light- Line Phonography" first published in the Untied States of America 1895 Sir Isaac Pitman retired and his eldest son, Alfred took over the family business 1897 Sir Isaac Pitman died on 22 January in Bath. Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons commissioned a special building to house the Pitman's Metropolitan School. 1898 Phonetic Shorthand Writers Association and the National Phonographic Society merged to become The Incorporated Phonographic Society. The new Pitman's Metropolitan School building opened in London. 1899 Gregg Publishing Co established. The National Shorthand Reporters Association formed in Chicago in August. The Dutch system of shorthand "Groote" introduced by A W Groote. 1906 The first commercially feasible stenography machine invented by Ward Stone Ireland. 1909 TheNational Court Reporters Association (NCRA) organised the first National Speed Contest for shorthand in America. 1913 The introduction of the Stenotype machine into the US court system...The "Centenary" edition of Pitman shorthand introduced to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Isaac Pitman birth 1921 The Pitman Commercial Examinations Department established at the Phonetic Institute. 1922 The "New Era" edition of Pitman shorthand published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons. A world record of 350 words per minute achieved by American Nathan Behrin during a 2 minute test using the Pitman system. 1924 Emma Dearborn devised a Speed Writing System in the USA. 1940 Gregg's "New Rapid Course" introduced to simplify the system for those attending evening classes and day schools1948 John Robert Gregg died. McGraw Hill acquired the rights to all his work. 1949 "Stenograph" registered as a trademark in the USA. 1950Leon Sheff revised the Dearborn Speed Writing system. Forkner's shorthand introduced in the USA. 1951 The National Council for the Training of Journalists established in Great Britain. 1952 In America the NCRA organised the firstNational Speed Competition for machine shorthand writers. James Hill experimented with his new shorthand system at Grantham College. 1968-69 The first public demonstration of Teeline shorthand.  "Basic Teeline: A Textbook of Fast Writing" published by Heinemann. 1971 The Inaugural meeting of the Teeline Association. Teeline Education Ltd established. James Hill died on 2 June 1971. 1974 Pitman introduced a new non-court based system called Pitman 2000. 1978 In America "Gregg's Series 90" introduced by McGraw Hill to mark the 90th anniversary of the Gregg's system. 1992 The New York School of Court Reporting is established in White Plains, New York