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Tag: Advice & Tips

Snow on the way - work from home

After a mild start to the winter, more severe weather is being predicted, with snow and ice likely to cause the usual problems for commuters. Given remote working is now more readily achievable, perhaps it’s time for organisations of every size and shape to again consider the practicalities of allowing more employees to work from home and stay off the roads. Although many executives can work from home, it’s rare to find support staff able to. At DictateNow, we always enjoy a spike in the use of our outsourcing support services when major disruption strikes and not all are weather related. Access can be denied to business premises through a host of issues including fire, flood and other major incidents, some of which can last days or even weeks – who can forget last year’s floods. We are the UK’s leading digital dictation and transcription service provider, but we offer so much more, with a full range of administrative and secretarial services including:
  • Filing opening on client office systems and case management systems
  • Company searches
  • Land Registry searches
  • Mailshots and mail merge to market a firm’s services
  • Document standardisation – to ensure consistency in all documents in the firm/department, ensuring style/format is the same
  • Updating precedents (for example converting templates/precedents to Word 2010)
  • Proof reading of documentation
  • Copy typing
  • Incidents, natural or man-made, local or national, ensure we attract lots of new clients, all finding it difficult to get their dictation transcribed when working from home, or even stuck in a traffic jam.
We welcome the opportunity to help clients, old and new, cope with any disruption, but if the disruption is on a national scale then service providers like us can be inundated with urgent requests and will support those we have existing relationships with first. Our resources however, are now so large, we are always likely to cope, so try us first. If you don’t have the necessary dictation equipment available outside work, just download our app for Smartphones and mobile devices to solve the problem. These free apps, offer access to our vast resource of qualified professional legal secretaries, spread throughout the UK, all working from home avoiding any disruption. So, if you are facing disruption in the office, even if it is illness and absence related, rather than the weather and you want to remain productive, please get in touch.
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Tips for delivering perfect dictation

DictateNow co-founder Maxine Park guides members of ILFM and readers of Legal Abacus magazine through the correct way of delivering dictation. Legal Abacus is the bi-monthly magazine for members of The Institute of Legal Finance & Management, which consists of legal finance, administration and practice management professionals working in the legal sector. The publication is an informative resource offering its readers news and advice about education and career development, legal accounting and business management, and in the wider legal sector as a whole. Maxine’s article outlines some key points on how to achieve the perfect dictation, including the type of technology you should be using, how to prepare your recording, factors which may affect the end result and how you can guarantee a more accurate transcription. For subscribers of the magazine, you will find Maxine’s article in the November/December issue. Alternatively, read what Maxine had to advise here: Tips for delivering perfect dictation When it comes to accurate business, legal or medical dictation, it’s important to follow simple guidelines that make transcription easier. The choice of dictation machine is a personal one, but whether it’s a dedicated dictation machine or a Smartphone with the latest dictation app., it’s important not to hold it too close. You should hold the microphone about six inches from your mouth to prevent words becoming muffled by other sounds. Words beginning with a P or a B, like “partner” or “battery” will cause a burst of air to hit the microphone and distort the sound, as will your breathing if you get too close. The working environment is changing, even for the most avid dictators, many of whom will now find they are dictating out of the office, sat outside court or even running for a train, all of which pose different problems for the transcriber. It’s important to have your case notes to hand, but dictators should avoid shuffling papers and working at their keyboard at the very least. Keeping background noise to a minimum is essential for clear dictation, which can be difficult in a busy practice, but it’s worth finding somewhere a bit quieter, rather than constantly stopping and starting your dictation when everything gets too loud. Although microphones will often pick up background noise, you can experiment with its sensitivity settings to reduce the distance at which the microphone will pick up sounds and ensure your voice is the focus of the recording. When starting your dictation, it’s important to pause slightly after you press record and again before you stop recording to prevent your first and last words being clipped each time. Perhaps the most obvious, yet most important point to appreciate when dictating, is the need to speak slowly and as clearly as possible; the better your diction, the better the dictation. Transcription service providers will charge by the length of the dictation, so it might be tempting to speak quickly, but it’s better to be more precise to avoid ‘ums’ and ‘ers’, which will lengthen your dictation, add nothing to your work and cost you more. Experienced, qualified legal transcription typists will understand that only punctuation requested by the dictator will be transcribed - an errant comma or apostrophe could significantly change the meaning of what was intended. You must dictate all punctuation and use consistent instructions:

Full Stop


Align (direction)




Exclamation Mark


Open Parentheses


Question Mark


Close Parentheses







Quotation Marks

“ ”




New Line




You can speed up the formatting of the finished document by adding it to your dictation; when you want to underline, capitalise or bold certain elements of your text, simply say STOP and then issue instructions for how the next word, words, sentence etc., should be treated.




In bold type


In italics


Underline type




In capitals

In general, the ‘Spelled/Spelt’ command need only be used for obscure words, names and addresses, etc. Most experienced, qualified transcription typists will not only have a good working knowledge of the English language, but also commonly used legal expressions, including Latin terms, along with specialist medical terminology. When spelling words, the recommended phonetic alphabet to use is the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet:





















































Numbers present a different set of problems for transcription typists and should always be dictated in the same way to reduce the chance of confusion.


Zero or Nought - Never ‘O’.


One Thousand – not a Thousand.


Nineteen seventy seven


Three point one eight


Twelve thousand seven hundred

You will also need to dictate any relevant reference numbers at the start of your dictation to identify the client or case to which the work refers. If you are utilising outsourced transcription services, the typists may have access to your system remotely, allowing them to complete work within the relevant files utilising existing templates. Service providers will usually have typists spread throughout the country, not only to help increase confidentiality for dealing with matters that are locally sensitive, but to be able to match a dictator’s strong regional accent with that of a typist. To ensure you receive accurate transcriptions, the best advice is to pay attention to the quality of your dictation, press record and speak clearly. This technique will also save you time in typing initially and in correcting the returned work.
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A Perfect Dictator

Remember, the better your dictation, the better the transcription - it is likely to cut your costs too. Learn to be a better dictator with our free guide...Click here

Become a better dictator

The cost for our high-quality, accurate transcriptions of dictations is based on the length of the original dictation we receive. If the original is well planned, dictated with simple clear instructions, then the resulting dictation will be shorter, more concise. And that means typically it will cost less to transcribe. Dictate now has delivered more than 10 million dictations over the last 10 years and we have pulled together our top tips to help you embrace digital dictation and deliver perfect dictations. You will receive transcriptions more quickly and save money – a genuine win-win situation. If you would like to discuss our services in more detail, please get in touch and we’ll even set you up with a free trial to show you just how good we are.
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Finding Your Ideal Type

Solicitor and co-founder of transcription services provider DictateNow, Maxine Park was recently approached by Business Info, which was seeking expert insights for a feature on digital dictation. A bi-monthly publication, Business Info is the UK’s leading magazine for UK SME buyers, decision-makers and specifiers of business technology & workplace products and services. The title provides business managers with an overview of developments in Printers & MFP’s, IT, business equipment, telecoms and workplace design. Maxine highlights the benefits of going digital with dictation workflow software, including more effective collaborative working, flexibility, accessibility and cost savings. The article can be found in Issue 131 (page 26) online here. Alternatively, read the feature below: [caption id="attachment_434" align="alignnone" width="721"] Tayla Ansell explains what businesses should look for when choosing a digital dictation workflow solution[/caption] The process of recording audio, typing it up and making sure it ends up in the right place can be unnecessarily laborious and time consuming. Dictation workflow software makes the process easier, linking authors and transcriptionists so that recordings and written documents are shared instantly with the right person for faster turnaround times. A survey by Nuance Communications found that 50% or more of a doctor’s time is spent on clinical documentation, with almost an hour a day spent searching for information. Dictation workflow software can make documentation processes easier and more efficient. And it’s not just doctors who benefit. Dictation workflow software is used by a variety of businesses, including law firms, surveyors, accountancy firms, medical practices, non-profit organisations, local councils and more. In the words of James Morriss, head of sales and marketing at Lexacom, “the software is useful to anyone who needs to create documents, in a consistently efficient way”.

But why can’t files just be emailed?

For Morriss, it’s all about security and traceability. “Whilst it is possible to email files between users, many of the key benefits are simply lost. Specifically, it will be difficult to ensure security of the files, as there is nothing to prevent a user from incorrectly emailing a file or forwarding a file elsewhere,” he said. Maxine Park, co-founder of transcription services provider DictateNow, adds that specialist software also provides an effective way to share work between different typists, secretarial pools and outsource providers. DictateNow has a team of secretaries available to type up customers’ sound files, effectively acting as a remote extension of a firm’s in-house team. Georgina Pavelin, marketing manager at Olympus, also cites security and collaboration as key benefits, adding that dictation workflow software gives improved visibility of workload, for example by enabling a group of typists to view live updates on the progress of dictation jobs.

Going digital

The market for dictation workflow software continues to grow as more firms make the switch from analogue tapes to digital voice files, driven in part, says Morriss, by the greater affordability of digital solutions. “Many users of tape-based dictation have been reluctant to change to a digital format because of the initial costs involved. As tape players and associated consumables have risen in price significantly over the last few years, the gap between maintaining an old system and replacing it with a digital system has continued to reduce,” he said. “We are seeing a tipping point, with many users of analogue systems now compelled to make the change. In addition to this, many early adopters of digital technology are reviewing their needs and upgrading to systems that support more advanced features, such as smartphone support and speech recognition.” Park points out that cloud solutions can help minimise the level of investment needed. She said: “Being able to have a hosted system – SaaS – means there is no need for expensive servers. Also, advances in technology have seen improvements to the quality of sound files and ease of use. Dedicated apps are available for use on mobile devices, which means people can dictate on the go, anywhere, at any time, without the need for expensive dictation devices.” Pavelin adds that the broader need to make better use of stretched resources by increasing efficiency and productivity is also expanding the market for dictation workflow software that can reduce the time it takes to create documents and free up staff to spend more time on other tasks.

Straight talk

With so many solutions to choose from, where should one start? For Morriss, simplicity is the key: “It is often easy to forget the reason for dictating documents in the first place, which is to reduce the burden on the professional. There are many systems out there that are complex and difficult to use. People should consider a solution that is clear, simple and intuitive for the professional (the most expensive part of the process), whilst maintaining a high degree of customisation and flexibility,” he said. Pavelin highlights the importance of trying out a solution first: “Trials are beneficial as they can highlight any potential issues, such as tech requirements and capabilities. If anyone would like to discuss dictation workflow, Olympus offers demonstrations and information to help choose the right solution.” For businesses interested in outsourcing the transcription of their sound files, Park highlights security as a key consideration. She said: “It is always best to choose a dictation company which is compliant with the ICO. The company should have UK-based servers with outsource provision based in the UK and should be aware of the changes being imposed by the GDPR that come into effect in 2018 with regard to data processing.”
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