Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Transcribing and captioning — specialized writing skills that don’t get enough credit

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Do you do transcription? Are you involved with any kind of professional captioning service? If you do either — or both — you know what I mean when I say such specialized writing requires a special set of listening skills and dexterity most people don’t appreciate.

I remember how fascinated I was waaaayyyyy back in the Dark Ages when I was in junior high school (no, not middle school) and took my one semester class in “typing.” That’s what they called it before computers and keyboarding. It was fun learning how to type, it was amazing to watch Marsha type. Marsha was one of the older girls in my eighth-grade class, more mature mentally and physically, and she developed the ability to type at the rate of 83 correct words per minute.

Now that’s pretty amazing to me — an 83 correct wpm typing speed. It still commands my respect. The best I’ve ever tested was once a few years ago when I did a 70. I can hit 55 pretty consistently and I’ve done 63 a couple of times.

I have no idea how fast some of you type/keyboard. If you happen to do captioning for a live television closed-captioning service, I would be very interested in knowing what sort of typing skills/speeds you do.

I’ve told previously in this blog of the several years I spent transcribing for an insurance company. That’s when I learned the fascinating mental skills a good transcriptionist must have. Chief among them is the ability to hear and type exactly what is said, not with any mental editing to skip “uh, um, and, uh, but, uh, gonna, yeah” and all the other mumblings and stutterings real people do in real interviews.

Transcriptionists and captioners out there — I salute you. Tell us about your work.
[tags]transcription, captioning service, specialized writing skills, writing as a business, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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