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A transcript is a written record of spoken language. In court proceedings, a transcript is usually a record of all decisions of the judge, and the spoken arguments by the litigants' lawyers. The transcript is expected to be an exact and unedited record of every spoken word, with each speaker indicated. Such a record was originally made by court stenographers who used a form of shorthand abbreviation to write as quickly as people spoke. Today most court reporters use a specialized machine with a phonetic key system, typing a key or key combination for every sound a person utters.

Less formal courts have now begun to use a sound recording system. The recordings are sent to court reporters only when a transcript is requested.