Do not buy more books than necessary. There are very FEW books necessary to become a successful reporter. Many things you will learn on the job, and no amount of hitting the books will prepare you for the real world. You can go through legal terms and medical until the cows come home, but all that matters is that you can write them on your machine. The definition only matters when a word or suffix sounds similar to another (certain medical word parts and homonyms). Some schools get ridiculous with the amount of books and extracurricular classes you need, but keep in mind, you do NOT need a diploma. If it gets out of hand, just focus on your speed classes and the basics (legal, medical, grammar). No book on court reporting procedure can substitute a teacher who gives an excellent class on it who has been a reporter at one point. I have various posts on what to pack, the checklist to have for the first day, and the order in which you turn everything in. Look for those in the freelance section of the Steno Page.
Here’s the only books you could ever need:
(1) theory books (depending on your theory): I recommend Magnum Steno: Beginning Theory book (200) for those that are planning on becoming reporters and not hobbyists; for hobbyists, StenEd books.
(2) punctuation book: Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporters OR Margie Wells’ Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation OR The Gregg Reference Manual (NCRA’s grading standard). Having had all three, I recommend Gregg’s.
(3) medical book – check your school’s recommendation
(4) homonym list (no need to purchase a book for this) – focus on ONLY the ones you don’t have down, don’t clutter your space
(5) legal book – check school’s recommendation
(6) a Written Knowledge Test (WKT) study book – whichever is current from the NCRA (only for those who are to become freelancers, not captioners)
OPTIONAL (everything below this line is optional, but highly recommended):
(7) briefs book: Magnum Steno: Write Short! Write Fast! and Ed’s Steno Pro. If you can only get one, get the first one. When you become a reporter, buy Ed’s book too. They are both invaluable books. Learn from the best – both speed champions.
(8) procedures: Transitioning From Student to Professional Court Reporter – this book is extremely helpful right when you’re about to graduate, but I try to cover all the information about the field on my blog – however, this was one of my best book purchases
(9) Consider getting vocabulary books that are highly rated on Amazon to expand your vocabulary. Those aimed for advanced SAT testing are excellent. A great vocabulary is crucial. You mainly need to recognize these words. You won’t hesitate on words if you’ve seen or heard them, for the most part.
TO BUY WHEN YOU’RE GETTING CLOSE TO REALTIME AS A REPORTER:
(What is close? – under .50% untranslates regularly, but aiming for .10% untranslates or less)
(10) realtime books: My System: The Road to Realtime Excellence (excellent for those sharpening skills for captioning/CART – $19) and Ed’s Realtime Writer’s Manual (excellent for those looking to provide realtime in freelance/court – $89)
Please visit my post on dictation. That’s the only other expense outside of equipment, tuition, and books.