Celebrating National Punctuation Day

From a JCR Weekly poll

What punctuation mark is misused the most?

Comma 52.9 percent

Semi-colon 31.6 percent

Quotation marks 3.8 percent

Hyphen 3 percent

Exclamation mark 2.7 percent

Colon 1.9 percent

Dash 1.5 percent

Parentheses 0.8 percent

Question mark 0.8 percent

In honor of National Punctuation Day on Sept. 24, we asked NCRA members for examples of punctuation errors that are the most annoying. Here are some of the responses:

Not using the Oxford comma!!!!!

Rachel Barkume, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter and CART Captioner in Alta, Calif.


 “This“. and “that“, Hurts to even type it that way!

Heather Bradfield, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter in North Logan, Utah


People who use apostrophes to make nouns plural!

Stephanie Koenigs, RPR, a freelance reporter in Fond du lac, Wisc.


The dash because, if I’m using it, I’m usually trying to make sense out of someone’s sloppy, broken sentences. So I guess it’s really the speaker that annoys me.

Deborah Cohen-Rojas, RDR, CRR, an official reporter in Grayslake, Ill.


‘ (apostrophe) in the wrong place’s . It’s getting worse all the time.

Diane Stanley, a broadcast captioner in Ocean Shores, Wash.


Holiday cards that say From The Smith’s. I can’t even enjoy the sentiment of the season!

 Amy Doman, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter in Carmel, Ind.


Apostrophe abuse. Apostrophes used for plurals or in possessive pronouns like her’s or their’s instead of hers or theirs.

Elsa Jorgensen, a freelance reporter in Birmingham, Mich.


Omitted direct address commas.

Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter in North Brunswick, N.J.


We are the Blackburns, not the Blackburn’s.

Brenda Blackburn, RPR, a freelance reporter in Hollandale, Miss.


1. Hyphenated adverb/adjective pairs and 2. “She was 10-years-old.” Aggh! “She was a 10-year-old girl,” great.

Aimee Suhie, a freelance reporter in New Fairfield, Conn.


My number one is when the apostrophe is used with numbers.

“It happened in the 1980’s.”

“The price was in the 140’s.”

Stop the madness!

Cassy Kerr, RPR, CRR, CRC, an official reporter in The Village, Okla.


The misuse of plural possessives.

Barb Quinn, RMR, a freelance reporter in West Chester, Pa.


For me it’s not using a semicolon before “and” when joining two clauses when there is punctuation in one of the clauses.

Susan Horak, RDR, CRR, a scopist in Columbus, Ohio

Coming soon, fan favorites from NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020

If you missed NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020 conference, don’t worry. On Oct. 1 six of the fan favorite sessions that were recorded will be available as e-sessions for purchase. The cost for each session is $55 for members and $79 for nonmembers. Each of the sessions are worth 0.1 CEU.

The e-sessions being offered include the following:

Reporters and Gadgets and Apps — Oh, My!
Presented by Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR

Learn to be self-sufficient, productive, efficient, and courageous in your everyday professional life! Lynette Mueller will share the gadgets, apps, and other resources that assist her to meet the many challenges that may arise in the deposition or courtroom setting. She will also talk about the workflow she uses after the job — work smarter, not harder! This session will wind up with discussion from the audience and sharing other gadgets that have helped them along their “Yellow Brick Road.”

Ethics Jeopardy
Presented by Andrea Kreutz , CLVS, Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, LaJuana Pruitt, CLVS, Tim Janes, CLVS

Come join an educational game show where contestants will answer everyday videographer scenarios. Categories include Remote Depositions, The Secret World, and It’s Not That Kind of Video.

Just Okay is NOT Okay; Is YOUR Realtime Good Enough?
Presented by Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

While realtime does not mean perfection, how do you know if your realtime measures up as a sellable product? Let’s look beyond the gray and examine concrete, real-world examples of what is great, good, and just okay. Just because you can read through it doesn’t mean that your clients can. Anissa Nierenberger will debunk untranslate rate myths and other misperceptions about quality realtime. She’ll also provide solutions to common stacking and easy brief ideas, as well as explain why you should be editing in a way that school never taught you! If you’ve felt “in the dark” regarding realtime standards, you won’t want to miss this presentation!

Social Media Bootcamp
Presented by Cathy O’Neal

What social media should I use? When should I post? How often? What should I say? Do I have to answer every stupid comment? Can’t someone else just do it for me? Social media can be just one more chore, or it can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. Learn the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from a seasoned communications pro who finished 2019 with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! Weed out the stuff you don’t need, focus on the stuff you do need, and walk away from the session with action items you can do that day to start building the social media presence you want.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
Presented by Allison Hall, RMR, CRR

Are you running your transcript load, or is it running you? Are you dreaming about weekends to yourself and vacations where the laptop stays at home? “Work Smarter, Not Harder” will teach you ways to up your efficiency, increase your productivity, and reduce the amount of stress in a high-stress field.

Marking Exhibits Electronically for Remote Proceedings
Presented by Rene White Moarefi, RPR, CRR

This session will cover the steps for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, including download and setup of electronic exhibit stamps.

For more information or to purchase any of these sessions beginning Oct. 1, click here.

Register now for President Phipps’ NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the first virtual NCRA Town Hall with President Christine Phipps, RPR, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19,  at 10 a.m. (Eastern). Phipps will take this opportunity to discuss how NCRA members are coping during the pandemic and what the Association can do to assist them. She will also talk about upcoming webinars NCRA will host during its Mental Health Awareness Week Oct. 4-11. Phipps will be joined by NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC. The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Invest in your mental health

NCRA members are invited to register now for a free lunch-and-learn online session happening on Sept. 8 that will address Mental Health Issues in Court Reporting. The one-hour live webinar will take place 12 noon Eastern Time and include time for a question-and-answer session. The webinar is being held in conjunction with Suicide Awareness Week being observed Sept. 6 through 12.

Guest speaker Mandi Clay, Esq., an attorney from Tampa, Fla., will cover the basics of depression and anxiety from the perspective of someone who is going through it. Clay will share her own story as a suicide survivor. She will talk about the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and substance abuse, along with some advice on how to deal with issues you may have or issues that someone you work with might have. The goal is to give a basic understanding of the difference between regular “stress” and mental illness and help attendees become comfortable when talking about these issues openly.

“We invest in ourselves professionally, so it just makes sense that we should invest the same level of commitment in protecting and preserving our mental health,” NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Palm Beach, Fla., said.

Phipps also noted that a new resource page will be made available to NCRA members on Sept. 8 that will include links to national mental health organizations, articles, and more. The page will be accessible by a link entitled Mental Health Resources located on NCRA’s homepage.

“The work we do and the services we provide can be taxing physically and mentally, and while many of us rely on hitting the gym or other activities to keep us physically sound, many of us fail to consider what stress can do to us on the mental level. NCRA wants to make sure members have the resources to help them stay the course of enjoying success both professionally and personally, because if we are not the best we can be mentally, we are no good to our family, friends, colleagues, and clients. This webinar is the first of several to come designed to help make mental health resources readily available to our members,” Phipps added.

Registration for the free webinar closes on Monday, Sept. 7, at 4 p.m. Eastern time and is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. An email to join the webinar will be sent to all registrants the evening prior to the event. No CEUs are being awarded for this webinar. It will be recorded, however, and made available for NCRA members to view.

This session is being funded by the National Court Reporters Foundation.

NCRA members’ donations at Connect make a difference

Fundraisers happening during NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 raised more than $17,000. This support will help fund the National Court Reporter Foundation’s scholarships, education, and community outreach programs.

Four campaigns were created: NCRA A to Z® Scholarship Fund; NCRF Luminex Raffle, the Zoom 100-Day Challenge Meet & Greet Raffle, and the Work Smarter, Not Harder Training.

For the Zoom 100-Day Challenge, donations of $3,101 were raised for NCRF scholarship funds.

NCRF Trustee Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from North Brunswick, N.J., and Douglas J. Zweizig, RDR, CRR, an official in Baltimore, Md., along with court reporters Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official from Tulsa, Okla., and Jennifer Billstein-Miller, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Mantua, N.J., head up a Facebook page for aspiring and advancing court reporters.

To spur on the 15-minutes-per-day practice challenge, these mentors kicked up a fundraiser campaign with chances to win one of three Amazon gift cards.

Winners were Donna Urlaub, $125 Amazon card; Donna Prather, $100 Amazon card; and Debbie Krieghauser, $75 Amazon card. All donated their winnings back to student members of this practice group. 

The winners of the Work Smarter, Not Harder fundraiser hosted by NCRA Connect presenter Allison Hall were Elia Carrion and Karen Tyler. Their prizes are training sessions, presented by Hall, in these areas: efficiency/productivity, time management, organization, shortening writing, certification prep coaching, realtime prep/tricks, and practice tips. Her fundraiser brought in $776.

The A to Z Scholarship campaign met its fundraising goal of $5,000, and the Luminex II fundraiser continues through Oct. 2, 2020.

In addition, NCRA asked members who chose to compete in the first virtual realtime contest, the Realtime Literary Lockdown, to donate to the A to Z Scholarship fund. The contest took place on Aug. 5 and raised $2,500.

NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 attendees take advantage of ability to review sessions

Amber Fraass, RPR, a freelancer in South Ogden, Utah, ended NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 with a new goal in mind.

“Each class that I watched really had some value to me,” Fraass said. “The realtime presentation by Anissa Nierenberger [RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, a captioner from Boise, Idaho, and owner of Caption Masters] was one of my top three favorite presentations. I had not really given much thought about getting my CRR until I watched her presentation. Her suggestions of shortening writing and the ‘three strikes you’re out’ rule really clicked for me. I have now set a goal to obtain my CRR and have started a daily practice and note review to look for ways to improve as a reporter and to reach another skill level.”

Fraass said the virtual conference worked well for her this year since she has a newborn daughter and a son who is not quite 2 years old.  

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter in Washington, D.C., said she also appreciated the different ways you can experience a virtual conference.

I really liked the fact that I was able to move around and attend different virtual sessions,” Rogers said. “The best thing about the virtual session was not having to run from  Room B on the second floor of a hotel to Room F on the third floor, up an escalator and down a long hall to the right. Also, if I really wanted to attend two concurrent sessions, I had the option of watching one session then and the other on a later date and time. With this flexibility, attendees do not miss any session.”  

The sessions are still available to registrants until Aug. 25, whether they attended live or not. Registrants to Connect can also exercise two options if they wish to earn extra CEUs.

  1. If you purchased a Half Registration, you can upgrade to a Full Registration and earn a total of 1.6 CEUs.
  2. Both registration levels can add individual sessions at a cost of $55 per session for members and $79 per session for nonmembers to earn more CEUs.

To take advantage of either of these options, email meetings@ncra.org or call 800-272-6272.

Fraass said she is already using some of the information she learned.

“I truly loved the presentation by Allison Hall,” Fraass said. “Talk about lighting a fire of motivation. She was very direct in speaking about what would help with writing, improving time management, and giving fantastic examples of briefing and phrasing. She talked about taking the time to shorten her writing to get to where she is today and how much time and work she has done to get where she is, and I was absolutely impressed and motivated to set up a schedule for myself to maximize the time I have to work. As she said, we all have the same amount of hours every week to get things done.  It’s all in how you use that time. I also joined her Facebook page after the class, and it has such great tips on time management and getting things done.”

Rogers said she appreciated seeing new people presenting and new topics in the virtual format, but she also connected with an old friend.

“I’m so happy because I was able to connect with one of my court reporting college classmates, Jen Milette, RPR, an official and CART captioner in Warwick, R.I., who I had been thinking about for a while, during the Champagne Wishes Networking session,” Rogers said.

Remember: To receive your CEUs, you must attend a session for a minimum of 50 minutes, and you must take the session survey (located under the session description). Registrants can only earn the number of CEUs up to the number of CEUs for the registration package purchased and then verified through the process above. CEUs will appear on your NCRA transcript mid-to-late September. If you have questions about CEUs, please contact continuinged@ncra.org

If you missed the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference, don’t worry. Beginning Oct. 1, several  fan favorites will be available for purchase. Watch the JCR Weekly in coming weeks for more information about the sessions that will be made available, the cost to purchase, and the CEUs you can earn.

Donate to NCRF and you might win a Luminex II

Interested in owning a new Luminex II and supporting the many programs of the National Court Reporters Foundation? Then take a chance and purchase your raffle tickets now for NCRF’s Luminex II drawing by noon Eastern time on Oct. 2. The drawing will be held later that day via a Facebook live event. More details will follow in future issues of the JCR Weekly. The winner will be able to choose from among the colors Stenograph offers.

The Luminex II, valued at more than $5,000, was generously donated to NCRA by Stenograph to help raise contributions to support its many programs, ranging from grants and scholarships to educational programs about court reporting and captioning and more.

Raffle tickets cost $50 each, three for $125, or six for $250, and they can be purchased by texting to 41444 with the message 2020Lumi.

“NCRF appreciates Stenograph’s generosity in donating a brand-new Luminex II for our 2020 raffle opportunity,” said Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Immediate Past NCRF Chair and a retired court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich.

“This is a highly anticipated fundraiser each year. We also appreciate  those who donate to NCRF by buying raffle tickets. Stenograph’s and our members’ donations make it possible for NCRF to administer our vital training programs, community outreach, and scholarships. Our nonprofit activities are escalating all the time, and such generous funding helps make that possible.”

Remember, your chance to enter ends Oct. 2, so text now. You might be the lucky winner.

For questions or more information, email ncrfoundation@ncra.org.

Local court reporter elected vice president of national group

The Sun & Record/Wayne County Mail and The Daily Record, Western New York posted a press release issued by NCRA announcing that Meredith Bonn, RPR, CRR, has been elected as NCRA Vice President.

Read more.

NCRA Elects 2020-2021 Officers at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020

A press release issued by NCRA announcing the 2020-2021 officers was distributed on Aug. 10 to the media via Global Newswire.

Read more.

Champagne wishes, bow tie dance parties, and professional networking all part of NCRA Connect

NCRA President Christine Phipps and NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold

While networking looked a little different than past NCRA conferences, members still had fun moments and time to share at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020.

The first day of the conference ended with Max’s Favorite Things. Guests were invited to put on their bow ties and hear Max share some of his favorite things (including his never-before released drink recipe). The evening ended with a dance party.

“I attended Max’s Favorite Things and that was really cool and engaging,” said Caitlyn Hartley, RPR, a freelancer in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I’d love to learn more cocktail recipes.”

“Max dazzled us with his martini mixology lesson,” said Darlene Parker, FAPR, RPR, a broadcast captioner and the director of steno captioning and realtime relations for the National Captioning Institute in Chantilly, Va. “At the end of the event, many attendees turned on their cameras and danced. Many were wearing the plastic bow ties, around their necks and in their hair, that they received in their convention packet — in honor of Max.”

After the learning sessions ended on Saturday, it was time for trivia. The final bonus question had everyone stumped. Here was the question (the answer is at the end of this story).

Bonus question: In 1927 NSRA adopted its first Code of Ethics, and women reporters were finally given the opportunity to play a more active part in future convention proceedings. Florence C. Chamberlain of Omaha, a member of the ________________ Committee, made the point that the committee’s work was difficult and “has always been wished off on the women of the association.” It was the only committee composed entirely of women.

After trivia, NCRA members hosted networking parties for captioners, CLVSs, freelancers, new professionals, officials, and students and teachers.

“I really loved virtually connecting on Saturday evening with other freelance reporters,” said Hartley. “That was a lot of fun! Actually, everyone enjoyed the Saturday meet-up so much that although it was slated for 6-6:45 p.m., we stayed on until 8 p.m. They extended our time.”

Parker attended the captioners’ networking party.

“I thought the virtual captioning networking session was great,” she said. “It was good to catch up with old friends, meet new people, and encourage those contemplating entering the field of captioning. A nice feature of a large group meeting virtually is that everyone in the ‘room’ was included in the conversation, unlike in-person events where people often tend to talk only with the people they know. Kelly Linkowski did a good job of ‘hosting’ the session and trying to include everyone. Later, a person I met in the session contacted me directly. During the convention, I also contacted a few attendees directly. That was a nice feature of the platform.”

Sunday night ended the conference with a toast to new NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, an agency owner from North Palm Beach, Fla., which included a lesson in cocktails from NCRA Director Membership and IT Natalie Dippenaar and NCRA Director of Events Terpse Gentile. NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold toasted Phipps, and then NCRA Vice President of Finance & Human Resources John Dripps shared some of the personal and professional aspirations that were sent in by NCRA members.

“This virtual conference was very important for me personally and professionally,” said Matthew Hanneman, a freelancer in Fargo, N.D. “There was a wealth of information on a national scale. It had been several years since I had attended an NCRA conference, and I missed them. I was able to get Facebook info for some new colleagues as well.”

Hartley said she liked to option to virtually connect: “I can’t usually take the time off work or really want to spend the money flying out to the NCRA conferences, so this was my first NCRA conference and I’ve been a member since I was a student in court reporting school eight or so years ago.”

“For me it made it possible to be able to see what the NCRA conferences offered and to be able to meet other reporters I wouldn’t normally meet. I will say that there were some technical difficulties about sessions restarting a couple times, but the ones that you play back that aren’t live worked fine and I think I still prefer virtual as it’s much more convenient and less expensive in regards to travel costs,” Hartley said. 

“Once we got past the glitches in the first few seminars on Friday, I thought the convention was great and went well,” Parker said. “There was a wide array of seminar topics to choose from. It was easy to ask questions at the end of each session. It was nice to be able to talk to vendors in the virtual exhibit hall. I really appreciate the fact that at a later time I can watch some of the sessions that I could not attend and also have the opportunity to again watch the ones I attended that I’d like to hear again because they were so chock-full of information.”

Parker even found a possible new career path for her husband when she ended up attending a CLVS seminar.

“I knew very little about legal videographers,” Parker said. “At about 10 minutes into Making the Record is a Team Sport with Lajuana Pruitt and Gayl Hardeman, it struck me that this could be a new career path for my husband. I attended all of the other CLVS sessions to learn as much as I could. Perhaps my husband will become a CLVS at some point. Thank you to the CLVS presenters and NCRA!”

The answer to the bonus question from the trivia party is the Necrology Committee.