Want to learn how to improve your transcription skills? There are many advantages to continually improving your skills as a transcriptionist: more (and higher-paying) contracts, increased productivity and earnings, and regular referrals from clients. Here is how to improve your transcription skills and qualify for more contracts.
Hiring managers at transcription companies aren’t just looking to see how many words you can hear accurately or how fast you can type. They’re also looking at whether you pay attention to details like correct punctuation and consistent capitalization. (E.g., does this comma change the meaning of the sentence? Does this compound adjective need a hyphen?)
Learning how to proofread your own work will put you ahead of the curve and help you perform better when testing for a new company. You’ll also be able to apply these skills when writing your cover letter. Show, don’t tell: It’s one thing to list “excellent punctuation and grammar skills” on your resume – it’s another to actually demonstrate these skills in the body of your resume.
If you think you could benefit from brushing up on your proofreading skills, we recommend the following books:
Many of us learned poor typing habits that hamper our efficiency as transcriptionists. Fortunately, these habits can be unlearned – especially if you’re already doing a lot of typing every day!
Touch typing is a typing style that lets you find your way around the keyboard using muscle memory instead of sight. Skilled touch typists use the right fingers with the right keys for optimal typing speeds. There are free websites and apps that help you practice this skill, such as TypingClub. Express Scribe transcription software makers also have typing tutor software called KeyBlaze, which lets you practice your touch-typing skills through games, drills, and tests.
Spend a few minutes each day learning the basics of touch typing, and then focus on applying your newfound skills as you transcribe reports. In the beginning, you might be a bit clumsy as you learn how to type all over again, but with persistence, you’ll reach your words-per-minute goal in no time.
Using a text expander tool, you can create your own shorthand for the words and phrases that you use most often, saving yourself thousands of keystrokes every day.
If you want to try your hand at text expanding, there’s no need to run out and buy a fully-featured program right off the bat: Instead, you can use the AutoCorrect feature in Microsoft Word. I like to use AutoCorrect for expanding subheads (for example, px to PHYSICAL EXAMINATION). If you’re working on a multi-speaker dictation, you can also use this feature to automatically expand speaker labels – a huge timesaver.
To access AutoCorrect in Word, go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options. From here, you can add a new AutoCorrect entry in the “Replace” and “With” fields. Then, whenever you type your new keyboard shortcut and press space, tab, or a form of terminal punctuation, it’ll automatically expand to the new entry. Using a set of typing abbreviation rules like the ABCZ system, you can easily create and remember your shorthand entries.
In addition to mastering Microsoft Word, it’s a good idea to become familiar with your digital transcription software’s advanced features. For instance, some programs come with audio enhancement presets, automatic timestamps, and automatic volume adjustment. All of these features can save time on poor-quality or otherwise challenging audio files.
It doesn’t matter how fast you can type or how skilled you are as a transcriptionist: Slow, outdated technology adds hours to your transcription time and eats into your earnings. For example, I hung onto an old, faltering computer for weeks, and I often had to restart it – sometimes multiple times a day –wasting several minutes each time. When I finally added up the time I was spending restarting my computer instead of actually transcribing, I realized I’d save money if I just bought a new one.
When you upgrade your computer, consider getting an extra monitor so you can display your transcripts on one monitor and your Internet research on the other. Monitors are cheap, and a dual-monitor setup can really ramp up your productivity.
Because hearing things accurately is such a huge part of our job as transcriptionists, it’s also important to invest in a proper headset. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of studio monitors: There are affordable headphones designed for transcriptionists, like the Spectra and WordSlinger USB headsets. These headsets are conveniently equipped with inline volume control and are “tuned” to enhance speech clarity.
Follow these steps on how to improve your transcription skills. If you master the above skills: proofreading, speed typing, and technology; you’ll be prepared to handle anything your transcription clients throw at you.
Chloe Brittain is a high honours graduate of CanScribe’s Medical Transcription / Healthcare Documentation program and the owner of Opal Transcription, a Calgary-based transcription company serving clients throughout North America. Connect with Chloe on LinkedIn.