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Glossaries for transcription: What, why, when and how?

Glossaries for transcription: What, why, when and how?

It’s sometimes useful for and sometimes imposed upon a transcriber to use a glossary. What is a glossary, why would you use one, when should you use one and how do you use one?

What is a transcription glossary?

In my opinion, a good transcriber is an accurate transcriber. They look things up rather than sticking down the first thing they (think they) hear. When I’m transcribing, I always have some kind of reference resource open, whether that’s Google, the subject’s website, Wikipedia or something specific like discogs for looking up band and album information.

A glossary is a list of technical or subject-specific words or phrases which appear regularly in (usually a long series of) transcriptions. It helps you to avoid having to look things up more than once. The glossary acts as a reference for you, so you need only look up, say, the place the subject was born or the names of her children once, note them down, then have them to hand when they crop up again. It’s like a style sheet in many ways.

You might also be given a glossary as part of a corporate transcription project – this will happen where (usually) a company requires you to use certain specific terminology or acronyms in your transcription. I always ask for one of these at the start of a big corporate project, as it saves annoying the company by (for example), typing Park Run throughout the transcription rather than parkrun [that’s a completely invented example; I’ve never transcribed anything about parkrun].

Why should I use a transcription glossary?

As I said above, a good transcriber will look stuff up. If you’ve got a series of transcriptions, for example a set of interviews for a ghostwriter, a set of lectures about a particular topic or a set of tester interviews for a cosmetics company, it makes sense to keep a note of specific or technical terms and phrases. For example, if someone’s made a number of YouTube films, having a list of them is easier than looking it up each time.

Using the glossary will save time, as instead of looking up your subject’s children’s names three times, you’ll look it up once, note it down once, then cast your eyes over your glossary next time.

Of course, as I also mention above, you might be asked to use a glossary (or word list, or list of terms) by your client – usually a corporate client.

When should I use a transcription glossary?

There’s no point in putting together a glossary for a one-off interview or other transcription job. These are some examples of when I’ve used glossaries [these are disguised due to NDAs]

  • working for a ghostwriter writing a book about an entertainer – place of birth, film-making colleagues and YouTube video titles were all checked and written down
  • working for a marketing agency testing lipsticks with a panel – lipstick colour names, technical terms to do with lipsticks and general cosmetics terms
  • working for a student researching attitudes to perfumes – technical perfume terms, companies making perfumes and perfume names
  • working for a financial company taking down lectures and discussions, I was given a list of technical terms and acronyms to use

How do I put together a transcription glossary?

I have a Word document open alongside the one in which I’m typing my transcription. As I look up a name or term, I pop it on the list. I will usually divide up the list by people, places, albums, etc.

I then keep both documents open, so I can see the glossary as I’m typing, which means I can just flick my eyes across to the glossary when the interviewee says “Mytholmroyd”, I know how to spell it or indeed what they’re saying [apologies to anyone from there].

This article has explained what a transcription glossary is and when, why and how you might find one useful in your work as a transcriber.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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How can I transcribe more quickly?

Because transcription is usually paid by the audio minute (i.e. if you have a 20 minute tape, you will be paid 20 x your per-minute rate), the faster (and more accurately) you transcribe, the more money you can make per hour. Here are some tips from my own experience about how you can transcribe more quickly. It’s not all about typing faster, either – it’s about typing faster and typing smarter and working smarter.

All links are to my own articles that explain the topics in greater depth.

Typing faster

One main way (but not the only way) to improve your transcription speed is to simply (ha!) type more quickly. Here are some tips on how to build your typing speed. The first one might surprise you ..

  • Number one tip: trim your fingernails.

I have studied this (because someone has to) and I can improve my typing speed by about 5% by trimming my nails. I can type more quickly when just the pads of my fingers are striking the keys. It also takes longer to wear the letters off your keys if you’ve not got long nails to scratch them …

  • If you’re serious about going into transcription, especially if you have a specialised medical or legal background where the fees are that bit higher, it’s worth investing in typing training – have a look at Pitman courses.
  • A decent keyboard will also help you to type more quickly. Have a look at my post on ergonomics and keyboards, as I cover that there in a lot of detail. But typing on a decent keyboard as opposed to bashing away at a laptop or netbook will improve your typing speed.
  • The more you type, the faster you’ll typically get, up to a point. So you might start off a bit slow, but your speed should pick up, if you’re touch-typing reasonably accurately.

Typing smarter

As well as physically typing faster, you can use technology to help you to transcribe more quickly and efficiently.

  • If you’re not using transcription management software, start doing so (read more on this here). This doesn’t do your typing for you, but it allows you to manage the speed of your tape and stop and start it in the most ergonomic way possible.
  • Use autocorrect to your advantage. I’ve written about this at length in another article, but these are the most important points for building speed and accuracy:
    • Set up common shortcuts right from the start – bec = because, w = with, nec = necessarily, etc. Add these are you come across them.
    • Set up any words you commonly misspell – you can do this when you’re spell-checking, as there’s an autocorrect option in the spell check dialogue box (I have trouble typing occurred correctly, for example).
    • As soon as you recognise commonly used words or phrases in your particular tape, get them into the autocorrect. Long album titles? The name of a big exhibition the artist is working on? Moisturiser and concealer in a set of interviews assessing makeup? If they come up more than twice, create an autocorrect for them.
    • If you’re typing the names of people in the conversation, have a convention, e.g. aa for the interviewer, bb for the first interviewee, change the autocorrected text for that shortcut for each tape (e.g. aa might be Interviewer for one tape, Manager for another, Anita for a third, bb might be Interviewee, Employee or Jane), and always use the same shortcut for the main and secondary person, so it’s super-easy to remember what to type.
  • How about using voice recognition software? This has got a way to go, and editing it, in my experience, takes as long as transcribing in the first place.

Working smarter

This is mainly around the things that delay you in doing the work – looking things up and distractions.

  • I look things up when I’m transcribing – band names, place names, etc. It’s far more professional to provide a transcription with the facts checked and anything you can’t hear or are unsure of marked. Make looking things up work the way you need it to:
    • I find it easist to look them up as I go along, you might finid that disturbs the flow. Do what’s best for you.
    • I have found from experience that if I can’t hear a word, especially a technical term or proper noun, often the interviewer will ask the interviewee to spell it out … just after I’ve spent ages looking it up. So let the tape run a bit and see if it helps you pick that information up without spending time searching for it.
  • I type for an hour at the very most, as after that length of time my posture droops and my typing slows. It might only be a stretch and a march up and down the stairs, but do break it up a bit. Read more about ergonomics here.
  • I do need to have the Internet turned on while transcribing, because I need to look things up, but I’m careful not to answer phone calls or even look at emails until my break. Nothing is that urgent it can’t wait, and three minutes spent looking at something, plus the time it takes to get back in the transcription zone, can lose a few minutes per hour of transcribing. It all builds up!

A final thought

I hope these tips have helped to give you some ideas about how to transcribe more quickly and efficiently. Here are two final thoughts …

  1. If you’re reading this and you’re a journalist or researcher, not a professional typist, especially if you can’t touch type, it’s probably a better idea for you to explore finding a transcriber to do it for you than to try to get faster. I can often transcribe a tape up to twice as fast as a non-professional, freeing my clients up to do their real jobs!
  2. However quickly you type, ALWAYS assume a job is going to take slightly longer than you think. Why do you think this is being posted on Thursday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon …?

If you’ve found this article useful OR if you have more tips for transcribing more quickly, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Can I edit what I am not? Editing outside your direct sphere of knowledge

DictionariesThis year so far, I’ve worked on, among other things, a book about Black history in the UK, incorporating a number of responses in prose, poetry and rap which reflected the spoken norms of inner city youth; a project about (very) experimental architecture; and a book giving advice to gay men on dating and relationships. I’ve transcribed interviews with bands I know nothing about, and I’ve localised texts about items I’m never going to use. As a straight, white woman who is not an experimental architect, doesn’t follow those bands and is unlikely to use a remote-controlled helicopter, should I have engaged with these texts where I was quite clearly the “Other” in the relationship or knew little about the topic? Or should I stick very closely to what I know?

I think it’s fine to edit and otherwise work on texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you’re flexible, keep the audience in mind, are willing to learn and keep an open mind. I also think that there are limits to what you can work on, and I’ll talk about that, too.

Why I think it’s OK to edit outside your direct experience

It’s my personal opinion that it’s OK to edit texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you bear a few things in mind.

  • Be flexible. The language of an inner-city rap poet might not be the same as your own casual register, let alone the register you use for formal academic writing. Think about the conventions of what you’re working on, not your own preconceptions, go with the flow and keep things consistent and clear (which is the editor’s mantra anyway)
  • Be open-minded. The advice given in a dating book on apps for hooking up with people might be way beyond your comfort zone as a happily married, middle-aged woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and it’s wrong, or bad, it’s just different. Which leads on to …
  • Think of the audience. What will the readers of this book want? Is the relaxed style with all the I’d and should’ve contractions something that they will feel more comfortable with? Leave those in.
  • If you’ve got a good amount of life experience and a solid general knowledge, that will see you a long way into an unfamiliar topic.

Why I think it’s positively GOOD to edit outside your direct experience

The good editors I know are wise in knowing what they don’t know and seeking to expand their knowledge. They love to learn. What teaches you more than grubbing around in the very innards of a text on something you never even knew existed? There are other positives, too.

  • By approaching the text as the “Other” (while retaining a sensible approach to the privileges you might have as someone who is not usually the “other”), you might be able to suggest subtleties or pick up on attitudes that are going too far the other way. Maybe you can help reassure an author and their readers that people outside the core audience DO understand / empathise.
  • More importantly and commonly, the aim of all writing should be to be clear and express its author’s intentions clearly. So if you, as an outsider, don’t understand the text, maybe it does need to be simplified a little. If I don’t understand something on the second or third go, I’ll pop a comment in the margin that this might need to be clarified.
  • I think I have a tendency to edit better and more carefully when I’m working on something slightly unfamiliar. It’s like editing your own writing: if you really know the topic, you tend to see what you expect to read, and may skim over errors. I know I have this propensity, so I work extra hard on texts on known topics, and try not to enjoy the process too much at the expense of doing a good job!
  • You learn all sorts of things that might be useful in your everyday life, the next thing you edit, or even pub quizzes. Your next client will benefit from that extra knowledge (or maybe the one after that – I edited a load of texts on Agile working a few months ago, so can cheerfully say I know all about it when another prospective text comes in).

When I think it’s NOT good to edit outside your direct experience

There are some occasions when I do think a text is best left alone. Complete incomprehension of a technical topic or genre is not going to make for a good editing process. I pass those jobs along to a colleague (and get some co-opetition karma in the process). Examples in my own work of jobs I’ve turned down have included:

  • A book all about optimising your motor vehicle engine use, with lots of diagrams and examples. I know nothing about this, and there was little value I could add to something so technical.
  • A localisation job where I would have had to research European legislation on a topic I knew little about to start off with, and match it up to US legislation. That’s too dangerous to mess with.
  • Editing novels in genres I am not familiar with myself such as romance and science fiction – you do need to know your genres if a book is to be edited to fit into them. I’ve actually pretty well stopped working on fiction apart from the odd thriller for an on-going client, as they are pretty well all in genres where I know someone else will do a better job.
  • Specialised transcription – medical and legal in particular. I’ll cheerfully type about makeup I don’t wear or economic policy that can be checked easily, but I don’t go near the specialised terminology used in medical and legal transcription.

In summary … in my opinion, it’s good to stretch the boundaries of the areas you work on and to edit and otherwise work with texts on topics that are unfamiliar, unless the level of technical or specialist content is high enough that you are floundering and uncomprehending. In that case, there’s always someone who  knows more about the topic that you can pass it on to. Happy learning!

What are your thoughts on the subject?

 
 

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Transcription tips: How do I transcribe a tape with multiple voices?

keyboard earphonesAlthough transcribing interviews by journalists or students that only involve two voices is the most common work I do, transcribers often have to work with tapes with more than two voices on them. How do you tell the voices apart so that you can differentiate them on your transcript? This article shares some tips I use to tell different voices on a tape apart.

What’s the problem with transcribing multiple voices?

I was transcribing an interview with two fashion designers today; my client had said it was OK not to differentiate them and the women themselves said that their voices were often confused. How did I tell the voices apart so I could produce a transcript that had the correct words attributed to the correct people?

Although it’s sometimes very easy to tell the people who are talking on a tape apart, for example if they’re a man and a woman, or one has a very strong accent, sometimes it can be difficult. Because it will help my client to know who said what, it’s important for me to try as hard as I can to differentiate the voices and make the transcript as useful as possible.

Before the interview: who are the interviewees?

If you know it’s going to be an interview with more than one participant, you can ask your client to help you from the very beginning.

Either they could ask their interviewees to introduce themselves by name at the beginning of the tape. Even if they are all, for example, young male voices, you can pick up a lot of information from this that will allow you to differentiate between them …

Or they could ask people to introduce themselves every time they make a point (this works in a more slow round table discussion at a conference, for example)

Taking the first option once led to a very sweet tape where the musicians in a band introduced themselves by name to me, mentioning my name, at the start: “Hello Liz, my name’s … and I hope you can understand me”. Aww!

After the interview but before you start typing: checking who is who on the tape

If you didn’t get the option to ask your client to get the interviewees to introduce themselves, it is OK to ask them who is who – for example, who speaks first, who has a voice that is distinctive in some way. They might also mention that, for example, the lead singer talks most and the person who only talks about one track is the drummer.

If you’re working on a discussion at a conference, you might be able to get some information from the conference website. For example, there might be a video up already that time stamps each person’s speech with a note of their name. Play the video, check the speech against your tape, and there you go.

When you’re transcribing: how do you differentiate between the different voices?

If you have no clues about who is who or who says what, there are still ways in which you can differentiate between voices on a tape. It can take time to get used to doing this, but it is useful.

  1. Check the video. This one sounds obvious, but if you have a video to transcribe, do look at it carefully. There may well be captions stating who is speaking, at least for the first time, and you can recognise who is who by their appearance. If there’s the option of a video for a conference or marketing meeting / focus group, do take it, even if it takes longer to download.
  2. Check where people are in space. In the tape I’ve been working on most recently, the speakers were sitting either side of the tape recorder. So, even though their voices were similar, one came from the left and one from the right. Result!
  3. Check the sound level/volume. If one person is sitting further away from the recorder, they will sound fainter.
  4. Check for even slight accents. There may be a non-native-speaker or regional accent on the tape: listen for different vowel sounds or intonation.
  5. Check the ums, ers and filler noises. These really vary across speakers and can make a difference. Person 1 might say “like” constantly, while Person 2 “ums” and “ers”.
  6. Check for clues in the environmental context. Does Jane order food but Sally just have a coffee? The one talking through her dinner is likely to be Jane.
  7. Check for clues in what they say. I often switch off from the content when I’m transcribing, just letting the words come into my ear and out of my fingers. But people will refer to each other by name, and this gives you a good clue to who is who, or reinforces your first thoughts (If the person you think is Pete refers to “Pete”, unless you have several interviewees with the same name, he’s unlikely to actually be Pete!).

I have two other handy hints to add, which I use all the time …

  • Draw a plan or write notes! When I work out who is who, I will write a little diagram out or make notes – “Bella … Jean” for the left/right ones, “Jim: high-pitched. Bob: rumbly and quieter” etc.
  • If you can’t put a name by each participant, at least try to break the text up into paragraphs spoken by different people. You might be able to go back and add the names if Julie says, “As Veronica said earlier, it’s difficult opening a tin of Spam”, for example.

It can be challenging when you find you need to transcribe a tape with more than one or two voices on it. As you have seen, there are things you can do to make this easier before the interview even starts, once you receive it and during the transcription process.

If you’ve found this article useful, please click to share! If you are a transcriber and have any tips to share on this topic, please do comment below!

If you want to learn more about Transcription as a career, buy my book: A Quick Guide to Transcription as a Career – buy from Amazon UK or visit the book’s web page for worldwide links and news.

Related posts in the series:

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute and not per word?

How do you start a career in transcription?

Why you need a human to do your transcription

Being a professional transcriber – software to use to help

Ten top tips for transcribers

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Business, Jobs, New skills, Transcription, Word

 

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Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute, not by the word?

keyboard earphonesWhat is the industry standard and fair way to charge for transcription work? Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute rather than by the typed word? This article explains why and offers a fair and standard pricing structure, too. It’s part of a series, and you can find the other articles in the series and a link to my popular book on the subject at the bottom of this article.

I was working with an agency on presenting an offer for a transcription job to a company. As usual, we provided a per-audio-minute rate. This works well and is the industry standard, as it’s predictable in advance and doesn’t change according to how long it takes the transcriber to do the job (of course, it’s up to the transcriber to check the tape and make sure they’re charging a per-minute rate that’s fair to them and the client. Mine is based on two speakers, a clear tape and non-urgent turnaround time, with fair and transparent add-ons per minute for more speakers / tape issues / urgent turnaround).

In this case, the client wanted a quotation by the number of words typed and/or the time it was going to take me to transcribe the tape. So they wanted to know my words-per-minute typing speed for a standard transcription.

Is there such a thing as a standard transcription speed?

In a word: No. There is no such thing as a standard transcription typing speed.

For a start, the speeds you can calculate from your own documents are not worked out in the same way the typing test people work out your official typing speed. That’s done on the basis of a standard five-letter word plus one space (I worked this out, because I’m like that, and a document that showed as 11,582 words would be 10,459 “standard words” which gave me a typing speed of 50 or 45.5 words per minute).

For another thing, the typing speeds you are measured on as a copy-typer are different from those you can achieve doing audio typing / transcription. I can type at about 70 wpm, but my transcription speeds vary WILDLY, as you can see below. If a client is used to hearing about a good typist typing 70 wpm, are they going to be impressed if we offer them a price based on 35 wpm? Probably not.

Of course, when transcribing, it’s rare to be able to keep up with the speakers without pausing the tape. It’s also rare to be able to hear everything perfectly first time – everyone has to rewind and check. In addition, a good transcriber will fact-check as they go along – company names, people’s names, the names of albums … and this slows things down, too, of course.

In addition, it’s completely impossible to calculate a standard transcription speed as it will vary according to

  • Number of speakers
  • Accents of speakers
  • Speed that the speakers speak
  • Turn-taking versus overlapping speech
  • Background noise
  • Quality of the tape
  • Degree of accuracy / in-transcription editing the client wants (e.g. turning non-standard English into standard English, transcribing every um, er and repetition vs. tidying the tape up slightly to not include ums, ers and repetitions)

I actually went back and checked a few transcriptions that I’d done recently (I note how long jobs take me and could take the word count from the Word document. My words-per-minute varied between 35 wpm and 60 wpm over a range of transcriptions, and that variation was not predictable by the type of client or the type of content (I do mainly journalists’ interviews and corporate work transcribing presentations, videos and conferences).

What is a fair way to charge for transcription?

The fair way to charge for transcription is by the audio minute. This is fair on the transcriber, if they have a range of pricing to suit different situations, and is fair for the client because they will in most cases know the charge up front (an exception to this would only come if they booked in 30 minutes and sent 90 minutes of tape with more speakers than expected and suddenly super urgent: if the client specifies exactly what they have, the transcriber will be able to quote clearly in advance for them).

I charge …

  • A minimum rate per audio minute for up to 2 speakers, speaking clearly on a good quality tape and not urgent (with 24 hours for up to a 60-minute tape)
  • A certain amount extra per audio minute for each additional speaker
  • A certain amount extra per audio minute for a particularly challenging tape quality (checked beforehand and only used if it’s a truly terrible tape or with huge amounts of background noise)
  • A certain amount extra per audio minute for urgent turnaround (under 24 hours for up to 60 minutes; negotiable over that tape length)

This charging structure has worked well for me over my transcription career so far.

If you are asked to provide other kinds of pricing, do bear in mind my points above, and feel free to refer your client to this article to explain further!

If you’ve found this article useful, please click to share!

If you want to learn more about Transcription as a career, buy my book: A Quick Guide to Transcription as a Career – buy from Amazon UK or visit the book’s web page for worldwide links and news.

Related posts in the series:

How do you start a career in transcription?

Why you need a human to do your transcription

Being a professional transcriber – software to use to help

Ten top tips for transcribers

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Business, Jobs, New skills, Transcription, Word

 

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My business books are now available in print editions!

In case you’re not following my books blog but are interested in the books on starting and growing a business and specific aspects of business such as networking, social media and transcription as a career (and on lowering your cholesterol, that popular outlier to my oeuvre), I’m pleased to announce that all of my books are now available in print as well as e-book editions. Look – proof:

Business books by Liz Broomfield

You can read all about what I’ve been up to in this blog post.

I’ll be sharing a how-to on creating your print book in Amazon’s CreateSpace and I’ll let followers of this blog know when that happens.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Business, Social media, Transcription

 

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Your transcription career: RSI, ergonomics and keyboards

mechanical keyboardWhen you’re a transcriber, you’re going to end up working at a desk for long periods of time, using a keyboard. This can lead to problems with your posture, and possibly to RSI.

There are loads of different arguments and positions with regard to the ideal workstation position. Here, I’m going to give a summary of what I’ve found to be good myself, and some of the ideas that are around, too. The best thing to do is:

BE AWARE – keep an eye on how you’re sitting, how you’re feeling, and any aches, pains or niggles.

Typing position

This is what suits me: the old-fashioned way I was taught at Pitman typing college back in the early 90s: back straight, knees at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor or a footrest. Shoulders relaxed, elbows at 90 degrees, belly button a hand-span away from the front of the keyboard, hands hovering OVER the keyboard so your wrists are straight and your fingers drop down onto the keys. Eyes aligned with the top of the monitor.

However, recent research that I’ve seen has suggested that you should lean back in your chair rather than sitting upright. I’m an upright sitter anyway (years of pony riding as a child?) so I find this uncomfortable.

There is also a lot of talk about standing desks, and I have several colleagues who have adopted these to great effect. I did try this and it made my feet hurt and made me type less quickly, so I did abandon it, but it’s worth trying.

A note on laptops: laptop keyboards are really not suitable for large amounts of typing. They are very flat, even if propped up, and can really strain the hands and wrists. If you need to use a laptop as a computer, buy a plug-in keyboard to use in front of it.

Preventing RSI

The best ways to prevent RSI and other aches and pains are …

  • Be aware of any problems when they start
  • Be aware of your position at the desk (are you contorted or twisted? That’s never good)
  • Stretch and refocus every hour at least – move away from the desk, squat, stretch UP, stretch DOWN, walk up and down the stairs, do some squats
  • Exercise regularly outside the house – I find that a good rowing session at the gym helps ease those shoulders
  • If you get any suspicious pains, look at what you’re doing and see if you can change it
  • If you get a recurring pain, go to the doctor sooner rather than later

Your keyboard

Most people use the standard keyboard that came with their PC or Mac. That’s fine for everyday use, but you might find the standard shape uncomfortable to use at high speeds, and the standard keyboard mechanics might slow down your typing. Here are some ideas:

  • Try one of the “ergonomic” split keyboards. They’re split in half, with a hinge, so you can open or close them as you wish.
  • Try using an alternative key assignation. The most famous is “DVORAK” and you can read its Wikipedia entry here. This assigns different letters to different keys, and is supposed to help with RSI issues by balancing how you type (we all know that the standard QWERTY keyboard was designed thus to stop the mechanics of the typewriter getting caught up with each other by putting commonly used pairs of letters in particular positions).
  • Try using a mechanical keyboard. Standard keyboards have a membrane under the keys which transmits the keystrokes to the switches. Their technology means that you have to press each key right down to get the connection and produce the letter. But mechanical keyboards have one individual mechanism and switch per key. You don’t have to press them all the way down to produce the letter. They are much more responsive and you can type more quickly on them, and they apparently last a lot longer – but they are expensive I found a really good article about them here.

I’ve recently invested in a mechanical keyboard. Once I got used to it, it’s very comfortable, and I think that I’m typing more quickly and more accurately, although I’ll only be able to judge when I have some big, long files to transcribe.

A note on keyboard labels: If you type a lot, you will notice that the letter labels wear off your keys, especially the most heavily used ones. This seems fine if you’re a touch typist anyway (and has the added benefit of really annoying anyone else who tries to use your workstation) but is irritating if you have to look down to type in passwords, etc.

The problem arises because most keyboards have the letters and numbers applied via transfer, which can wear off. You can get keyboards where the letter is actually moulded through each key, like a stick of rock. Wear your key down all you like, and the letter will still be there. Something worth looking into if you do wear off the letters on keyboards. You can even get light-up keyboards for when you want to type in the dark …

What’s best for you is best for you

I’d suggest having a play with different types of keyboard at an office or computer supplies shop, especially when it comes to the more expensive mechanical type keyboards. Whatever you feel comfortable with and doesn’t produce any aches or pains after a week of eight-hour days typing is what you should stick with, whether you’re standing on your head or using some kind of odd keyboard that you invented. RSI can ruin your career and your health, so do take it seriously.

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You can read more about transcription in these related posts.

Why you need a human to do your transcription

How do you start a career in transcription?

Being a professional transcriber – software to use to help

Ten top tips for transcribers

Or, if you want all of my transcription careers advice in one place, consider investing just £1  or the equivalent in my book on the subject: A Quick Guide to Your Career in Transcription.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Business, Transcription

 

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