Brackets are used mainly to insert explanatory material indicating material as spoken contains an error in spelling, grammar, or fact, or to draw attention to a phonetic spelling.


          (g)   Q.   Were the directions written?
                 A.   This is the note he shoved at me. It says, “Drop the package on the corner of  Popular [sic] Street.”

                 Q.   Did you know Mr. Cleesen [verbatim] before the accident?


Ellipsis points are three spaced periods used to show an omission of words, phrases, or sentences in quoted matter, and they are also used when a speaker trails off but is not interrupted.



               Q.  Let me read the following:   “Therefore, in consideration of the mutual agreements and covenants of the parties contained herein, and for other valuable consideration, the receipt of which is  hereby acknowledged, the parties to this Agreement hereby agree as follows:”

               LANGUAGE AS READ INTO THE RECORD        

               Q.  Let me read the following:   “Therefore, in consideration of the mutual agreements and covenants of the parties contained herein, and for other valuable consideration, . . . the parties to this Agreement hereby agree as follows:”

        (f)   Well, when you say it like that . . .

Three punctuation marks commonly used in transcripts that may be confusing are the dash, ellipsis points, and brackets.

A dash is used when a speaker changes or clarifies an idea in midsentence or when the first speaker is interrupted by a second speaker and the first speaker resumes the original idea.


     (a)  We’ll call Miss — Mrs. Jones to testify.

     (b)  Elizabeth came to my house Tuesday or Wednesday — yesterday was Thursday — Wednesday.

     (c)   Q.   Do you have the checks?
            A.   I have them in —
            Q.   Are they canceled?
            A.   — my safe deposit box.

A pair of dashes is used when a speaker suspends but does not cancel the idea in midsentence and then continues the idea.


      (d)  I always shop – this may sound strange – at my first husband’s store.

Reference:  Morson, Lillian.  (1997).  “Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporters,” 2nd edition.

Come back next week to better understand ellipsis points!

According to research conducted by Ducker Worldwide, over the next five years the demand for stenographic court reporters will exceed supply by 5,500 individuals. Visit for information on becoming a stenographic court reporter and join us in a rewarding career! Pass this information along to any high school students who may be interested!

The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.  

– Theodore Roosevelt –

Court reporters have the obligation to stay on the record unless all parties agree otherwise, or until a judge orders the end of the deposition, regardless of who the hiring attorney is.  The following is a real-world example:


– Extremely contentious divorce case.

– Husband’s attorney hired the court reporter.

– During Wife’s deposition Husband’s counsel steps out of the conference


– Wife makes a gesture towards Husband and it is NOT received favorably.

– Husband and Wife begin shouting.

– Husband’s attorney returns to the conference room.

– Wife’s attorney announces that he and his client will not continue with the


– Husband’s attorney instructs the court reporter to go off the record so that he

  can find out what happened while he was away.

– Wife’s attorney refuses to go off the record, wanting to make a statement

  regarding the situation.

– Husband’s attorney again instructs the court reporter to go off the record.

– The court reporter continues writing, trying to capture the cross-talk while

  explaining that she needs an agreement between counsel to go off the record.

– Frustrations soar and the hiring attorney asks “How can I get you to stop


– Wife and her attorney leave the building.


While packing up her equipment, the court reporter explained her obligation to stay on the record until an agreement was reached. Husband’s attorney was not happy with the explanation. Although Husband’s attorney was a loyal client of the court reporter and perhaps thought that since he was the hiring attorney the court reporter should have gone off the record when he requested, the court reporter, being fair and impartial, was correct to stay on the record and take down all comments made. The court reporter’s decision was in keeping with the National Association of Court Reporters Advisory Opinion No. 42.

So, when we stay on the record after an attorney leaves, it is because we are ethically required to do so. When a conversation begins as “on the record,” then the court reporter must keep it on the record unless all parties agree to take it off the record.


The authority to administer an oath or affirmation rests in the state in which the witness is physically located, therefore, in order for a notary in Ohio to report the deposition of a person NOT in their presence, there must either be a notary in the presence of the witness who administers the oath to the deponent and can either complete an affidavit stating that the deponent personally appeared before the notary, or the same information can be stated in the certificate of the reporter, or the reporter can be commissioned by the court in which the case is filed.  It is not acceptable for the attorneys in the case to stipulate that the reporter can swear in a witness not in their presence.

Pursuant to Rule 28(B) of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, “Depositions may be taken outside this state before: a person authorized to administer oaths in the place where the deposition is taken, a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending, a person agreed upon by written stipulation of all the parties, or, in any foreign country, by any consular officer of the United States within his consular district.”



Did you know . . . before becoming famous as a writer, Charles Dickens practiced as a parliamentary shorthand reporter in London, England? At a young age he worked at a law firm, which he grew to dislike, and soon thereafter purchased Gurney’s Brachygraphy and taught himself shorthand. He went on to work for The Morning Chronicle, a London newspaper, in 1834 as one of twelve parliamentary shorthand reporters. Dickens was highly regarded for speed and accuracy while recording debates, also earning “the reputation of being the most rapid, the most accurate, and the most trustworthy reporter then engaged on the London press.” Dickens’ struggles to learn shorthand became a subplot in the well-known novel David Copperfield.

As summer vacations are coming to an end and your deposition schedule increases, remember that among our many services we can prepare and serve subpoenas for you. For your convenience, please visit our website at to fill out your request!

A special thanks to Attorney Jack D’Aurora for the reminder. Check out the link to his article… it is a must read!