Do Numbers Make You Numb?
You rarely hear a court reporter say something like this: “I had a great day. I took an accountant and he spewed numbers like a runaway train. It was so much fun!” This is because writing numbers has always been a challenge and there are many good reasons why that’s so.
Let’s start with the ergonomics of the steno machine. The number bar, positioned as it is above the top bank, is difficult for many reporters to stroke accurately. Not only that, the numbers “5” and “0” must be stroked by pressing both a vowel key and the number bar. In fact, stroking the number bar is so awkward that many pre-CAT theories avoided it entirely and had their students remove it from their machines.
Aside from some conspicuous human engineering defects, there is also the matter of efficiency. You can stroke the number “12” in a single stroke but must stroke the number “21” in two. The same is true for virtually any number: Reverse the order of the digits and you must increase the number of strokes required to write it. “1234” is one stroke while “4321” requires four.
As flawed as the steno machine may seem when it comes to writing numbers, the ergonomic challenge pales when compared to the conventions of the English language. Consider:
“I drove three days to visit my aunt who lives on a 3-mile stretch of highway that I drove three miles to reach. I went to help her build a 3-foot fence so her three dogs can’t jump over it.”
Each instance of the number “3” is, according to context, either a digit or a word. Rules vary as to when numbers should be expressed in digits versus words, but no matter which set of rules you adhere to, switching back and forth at high speed is difficult.
This is just one of the many reasons why the rules and conventions governing numbers are so difficult to follow, especially when you’re taking someone with a foreign accent speaking at 240+ wpm and heavy equipment is droning in the background.
Salvation is at hand and it’s called Automatic Number Conversion. First introduced in 1996 and continually improved ever since, this powerful feature frees you to write numbers as hear them, when you hear them. It handles all types of numbers and formats them automatically according to settings you have access to and control over.
Because numbers are, by definition, infinite in number, and because the rules and conventions that govern them are so varied and complex, users must devote some effort in order to properly understand the automatic conversion features and, in turn, to make the settings and dictionary entries that will gain them the results they seek. That’s what this webinar suite is about.
Michael Starkman is going to cover this feature comprehensively. He’ll show you how to filter all the number entries in your dictionaries so you can correct or remove them. He’ll also review which number entries should be in your dictionaries and how they are properly defined. In order to get the very most out of the numbers feature, you must learn about the settings in the Numbers tab, and how to adjust them for the results you want. Michael will cover each setting in depth and provide guidance as to which will work best for you.