How Does A Great Transcriptionist Improve Their Typing Speed?

Good typing skills are the cornerstones of transcription and go hand in hand with good listening skills. This is what makes our transcribers great; they have the speed and the accuracy down to a T. With every project in every industry and every specialization, we guarantee 99% accurate rates and fast turnaround times all the time. Clients and transcriptionists might ask, “Well, how do you do that, exactly? How do you reach the typing speed for transcriptionists while maintaining the highest accuracy?” 

I’m here to tell you exactly how. 

What Is The Required Typing Speed of A Transcriptionist (in Words Per Minute)?

First, we need to put things into perspective. Typing speed is measured in two ways: words per minute (wpm) or keystrokes per minute (kpm).

Two-finger typing is about 25 wpm or equivalent to 120 keystrokes per minute. The average speed is 40 wpm. A transcriptionist should be able to reach typing speeds of 50-60 wpm or 300 kpm. This roughly translates to four hours of transcription for every one hour of audio minute. Some of our professional transcriptionists can reach up to 100 wpm or higher. 

This is, of course, for manual transcription and real-time transcriptionists. Automatic transcription software does not require speed measurement because results are primarily real-time. They are, however, inaccurate, but that’s a discussion for later. 

How Do Our Transcriptionists Type So Fast? 

As mentioned, a successful transcriptionist must reach at least 60 wpm to be productive and efficient. It’s even better if they can type faster and reach 100 words per minute. However, the typing speed of a transcriptionist is not static in the work environment. Many factors can affect your performance, like the difficulty or the quality of the audio file, the dialects or accents, or the number of speakers in the conversation. Successful transcriptionists know that being a great typist is only one part of the job. So, let’s go over how our transcribers type so fast.

We Don’t Neglect The Basics

Ergonomic equipment. Good posture. Resting after working long periods of time. Touch typing. Dual monitors whenever available. Every great typist knows not to neglect the foundational aspects of transcription. This might sound obvious or lame, but not forgetting the basics, even as you improve, is a good way to keep improving. 

We Use Text Expanders For Transcription Work

Text expanders make it so that you don’t have to type the same word or phrase over and over again. With text expanders, our team can type in their 2, 3, 4, or 5-letter code for a word or phrase, which will expand to their corresponding term.

Unlike your phone’s autocorrect, transcriptionists need to develop codes to use versus having them already provided. Once assigned a project, a transcriptionist will learn what words and names are used frequently for that particular client.

To reduce their total number of keystrokes, they set up text expanders for items like people’s names, streets, places, or terms and phrases commonly used in their industry.

Using text expanders helps us guarantee 99% accuracy because we won’t misspell those hard-to-spell names or places. Text expanders also allow us to transcribe 99% accurately for our academic, legal, law enforcement, and medical transcription services clients, no matter the subject matter.

Foot pedals Are A Must

Audio playback is another factor that can affect transcription speed. No matter how fast your average typing speed is, there will be times when you have to pause or rewind an audio recording. Doing it with your typical mouse and keyboard can be fast enough, I suppose, but foot pedals are even better for this kind of job. A foot pedal allows a transcriptionist to control the audio hands-free. Transcriptionists use the foot pedal to rewind the audio to keep up with it as they type and re-listen to troublesome spots.

Transcriptionists can also set a predetermined backup of anywhere from half a second to three seconds to suit their preference. This acts as an “insurance” factor to be sure that everything spoken is there. It also makes working as a transcriptionist easier and more enjoyable.

Our Transcribers Use Software To Help Meet Deadlines

Our teams have had their share of tough audio to transcribe. No matter how bad the audio is, we have the software to make it easier to listen to. Certain software can help reduce a transcriptionist’s type time by cutting out some background noises that can be distracting. Some of the audio we get has more than one channel. This could be a bit confusing to keep on point at who is saying what and could potentially lead to errors. Our teams’ software makes it so we can isolate the different channels and then transcribe the audio with 99% accuracy. Our expert staff and independent contractors use all of these tools, making for error-free transcripts with a fast turnaround time.

The one software that we advise our transcriptionist NOT to use is speech-to-text. This type of software slows you down and increases the number of errors. Senior scientist at Microsoft Xuedong Huang says, “If you put all the systems together—IBM and Google and Microsoft and all the best combined—amazingly, the error rate will be around 8 percent.” 

No matter how you view it, an 8 percent error rate in a medical report or legal hearing will drastically change the outcome.

Voice recognition software has not yet been able to match human accuracy. That is why many customers still work with us for specialized and general transcription jobs. 

Quick Tips To Improve Your Typing Speed

Are you a beginner struggling to reach 60 words per minute, or are you a transcriptionist aiming for 100 wpm? In any case, here are some quick tips to improve your typing and transcription speed. 

  • Practice Transcription Daily
  • Follow Proper Technique
  • Take Regular Breaks
  • Have a Quiet Workspace
  • Master Accents and Dialects
  • Work in Focused Chunks
  • Use a Foot Pedal
  • Read Aloud While Typing
  • Learn to Type Numbers and Symbols Efficiently
  • Monitor Your Progress
  • Customize Your Keyboard
  • Use Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Use Dual Monitors

Is Your Transcription Company Fast Enough?

Transcription companies typically offer a range of turnaround times. The most common are rush (one to two business days), standard (three to five business days), and extended (six to ten business days). This allows them to be flexible with results and pricing, allowing clients to customize their transcription turnaround times according to their budgets. It’s the general standard within the industry, and we here at Ditto Transcripts offer the same range. You’d be hard-pressed to find transcription companies that can offer faster turnaround times. Except, of course, for those who use speech-to-text transcription. 

Is Automated Transcription The Best Choice For Speed?

Speech-to-text or automated transcription converts speech to text using automated speech recognition (ASR) software powered by artificial intelligence. This process is fast—so fast that it can transcribe any audio recording in real-time. You can see companies proclaiming that their AI transcription software is the fastest, most accurate piece of programming, bolstered by implementing ChatGPT or Bard or whichever large language model chatbot is hot right now. 

“We boost your transcription time,” they boast. They also offer exceedingly lower prices than your usual transcription rates. So, why do companies like ours still exist if AI can transcribe better, faster, and cheaper? 

Accuracy and Speed Are Inextricable In Transcription

Well, as I repeatedly mentioned above, accuracy is essential in transcription. Regardless of how AI transcription companies dress up their process, no matter how cheap they offer their services, the hard fact is AI transcription can only reach up to 86% accuracy. A good transcriptionist with the requisite experience and a solid working process can reach up to 99% accuracy, which is our accuracy guarantee for all transcription projects. There’s no point in outsourcing your transcription needs if all you’ll receive is an 86%-accurate transcript that you must work on to correct. You’re essentially paying for the privilege to work on your transcripts AGAIN after you receive them. 

Now, if you can work with a less-than-perfect transcript, then AI is for you. However, imagine the consequences of incorrect transcripts. Miscommunications, legal ramifications, loss of credibility, misinformation, operational errors, medical errors, negative financial consequences, damaged relationships, and time and resource waste are just some of them. 

I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: 

For all its speed, AI still cannot transcribe with acceptably accurate results. 

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA- and CJIS-compliant, Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services to companies and agencies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial. Visit our website for more information about our transcription services.

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