In a previous post, I explained the terms mistrans and untrans, and what they mean in regards to scopists. Correcting both mistrans and untrans are scopists primary responsibilities, but they have other duties as well, most notably: punctuation.
Punctuation can both create and destroy. Depending on the placement, it can completely change a sentence. The statement, “Let’s eat, kids,” is perfectly fine, but takes on an entirely different tone if it were, “Let’s eat kids.” The absence of the comma after “eat” creates a whole new meaning to the sentence. The example above is humorous but harmless. However, missed punctuation in an official transcript filed by the court could be much more severe.
I follow Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporters when scoping transcripts, but when writing creatively or proofreading a creative work, I get inspiration with The Art of Punctuation and A Dash of Style. All references are immensely useful and yet strikingly different despite covering the same criteria. For the aspiring scopist, it’s far more advantageous to learn from Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporters. I would even consider it a requirement.
If you aren’t a little passionate about punctuation, then scoping may not be for you. I’m not saying you need to glorify every period, but the subtle art of a well-placed semicolon should be something you appreciate.
“I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.” – Isaac Marion