Retired reporter coming out of retirement

Now that I'm trying to get back into the work force, the technology for reporting has changed considerably. I bought a Stentura LX 8000 and need to know how to begin my practice. I am writing but how do I build my dictionary? I have no software, no tapes, no books, no money. I have been practicing off the TV. I can still remember briefs and keyboard but need some guidance as to how to get hooked up to the computer and get started.

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Comment by Glen Warner on October 22, 2009 at 19:45
Hi, Colleen.

The link I provided above apparently didn't work ... so for FREE software, try here:

That links is to the STUDENT VERSION of the now-gone GlobalCAT. It has that dictionary building component I mentioned (check the manual).

It's ugly by today's standards, but it should be able to help you build your dictionary ... which is about all I'd use it for, were I in your shoes.

While you're downloading stuff, it couldn't hurt to download DigitalCAT from the main page at Stenovations. If you scroll down a bit, you'll see a blue box with the words "Download NOW!" Click that, and you will be downloading the latest version of digitalCAT.

Since digitalCAT expires every 90 days, I recommend that you NOT install it until you have your dictionary built from GlobalCAT and ready to go.

As for getting digitalCAT to use your dictionary, take a look at my article, "Dictionaries 'r' Us," which, among other things, tells you how to create a new dictionary in digitalCAT ... but it doesn't mention how to import an existing dictionary ... but that's easy: Create the new dictionary as described in the article, click File --> Import RTF, and point it at your newly-created dictionary.

Once you have your dictionary built and your speed at appropriate an appropriate level, you can contact Stenovations and tell them to upgrade your software to the Professional version.

You should be able to use it for free for SIX MONTHS before they start billing you $79 a month ... but note that that after that first year, your $79 a month turns into a lease payment, unless you tell them you want to purchase the software ... so make sure you do that!

Finally, if you're curious about the other software options available, check out my article, "The Good Stuff." There's even a table in there that tells you what hardware each CAT program requires to run best.

Good luck ....!

"For a Good (steno) Time ......"
Comment by kathy - iamwrdsmth on October 22, 2009 at 14:47
reporters do, from time to time, sell their old software when they
purchase new. so check the classifieds to see what's for sale.
NCRA Web site has a classifieds too.

I've not heard of any software for free, but perhaps you might convince a software company to allow you to purchase their student version, usually around $100 for a year. it's limited, but
you will be able to get to know it and whether you wish to go

Comment by Colleen vonLoren on October 22, 2009 at 6:27
Thanks, Kathy and Glen for taking the time to teach me the ropes. You have given me so much information and I appreciate the time you took to write me. I can't afford any major software now but I hear there are some out there that are free. What can you tell me about being financially strapped and needing software?
Comment by kathy - iamwrdsmth on October 21, 2009 at 21:46
Hi, Colleen,
Welcome back to court reporting!!

I think most software programs have a dictionary build
feature. A word will pop on the screen and you write
your steno for it and hit another key (or stroke) and the
next word comes up. It's tedious but it does build the
dictionary in a resonably quick time.

The current available court reporting softwares
are offered by: Stenograph, ProCat, Advantage
Software, Inc. (Eclipse), StenoCAT, Cheetah.
Those are the big 5. There's also DigiCat (as mentioned
by the previous poster) and there might be a
couple others. There are also a couple new
steno machines on the market today, but since you've
got your 8000, you're doing just great with the

All of the softwares do basically the same things, they
translate raw steno notes, and allow you to edit the
document (matching text to steno), and produce a
transcript ready for printing. They just do those same
things differently. For instance, one software might say
"format document" while another might call it "document
set up."

You might want to drive on down to the next state exam
given in your area. The vendors (software companies)
most often show up there, rent a hotel room, and show off
their computer programs to the testees. (At least they do in

I would reccomend that you drive on down to your local
court reporting school and present your situation to them.
I'm sure most schools will be able to give you their
perspectives on equipment and speed building for free.
You might have to pay a small fee for taking their classes,

I am currently using StenoCAT software and I love it it is
very simple to use and I pay $650 a year for the software.

You could start out with StenoCAT and then after one year
if you didn't like it, you could change with only a small
investment lost. Most other software companies want
you to buy their software which is close to $5,000.

There's a group for nearly every software on CSR Nation,
check out a few and see what people are saying about
their systems.

good luck and keep asking questions,
Comment by Glen Warner on October 21, 2009 at 21:27
Hi, Colleen.

The (now pretty much gone) old software" target="_blank">GlobalCAT had some sort of dictionary builder in it. If I recall correctly, it would put a word up on the screen, you would stroke the word, and it would add that to an .rtf dictionary ... which, once you were finished, you could then import that dictionary into a more up-to-date CAT program.

If you're looking for dictation, go to You should find several audio files you can download.

There's an instructor that uploads the dictation she does for her class to YouTube; you can find her dictation here.

Ordinarily I would most heartily recommend starting out with Stenovations' digitalCAT ... but due to some recent changes, I must caution you that of late, it has become too crippled to use effectively: Can't copy and paste, can't save your work, can't export as ASCII, etc. ... and it has a 50 page limit.

On the other hand, the price is right (a free download, but you have to go online to register the software every so often), and once you get up to working speeds again, you can start leasing the software for $79 a month -- BUT ensure that after your first year, you switch from the $79/month lease to the ~$200/month purchase plan ... otherwise, you will never own the software.

If you know someone that has a disk from the time before this new version came out, you could install Build 182, then run the Build 192 updater. The downside here is you won't get any support, and it will expire every 90 days ... but the 50 page limit is gone, and it works just like the full version does.

If you do decide to use digitalCAT with your Stentura, you will eventually need to connect your writer to your laptop.

Stenograph will happily sell you a Keyspan Serial adapter ... but that particular adapter will not work with digitalCAT.

Finally, once your speed is up there, you might contact your local college and see about being a note taker for a few classes.

Basically, you would write down the salient points of a professor's lecture, and get paid for it ... and you'd be getting some valuable practice in at the same time!

Not sure what the pay is, but it's not up there with CART pay ... but it shouldn't be minimum wage, either.

Something to think about ....

Good luck, Colleen!

"For a Good (steno) Time ...."

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