Minimum Transcript Format Standards - Effective 2/10/2000

Question: I have a clarification question about the MTFS and how it applies, if it does, to cases venued outside of California. My understanding of recent rulings on the MTFS is that ANY deposition reported within California, regardless of where venued, is subject to our format. For instance, I report a deposition in a case venued in Delaware, but because I'm a California CSR, it must be formatted to California standards. Can you clarify this for me?

Answer: On January 1, 2010, there was a change in 2029.500 which clarifies that any depo taken in California must be taken in compliance with all California laws, which would include our MTFS. Prior to that, the CRB interpretation of current law was that the MTFS is followed unless the jurisdiction in which the case is venued has its own format.

THE COURT REPORTERS BOARD OF CALIFORNIA hereby adopts its regulations in Division 24 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (EFFECTIVE 2/10/00).

2473. Minimum Transcript Format Standards.

(a) A reporter licensed under Chapter 13, Division 3 of the Code shall comply with the following transcript format standards when producing a transcript in a legal proceeding. If a reporter is employed by a court, either as an official or pro tem official reporter, the transcript format set forth by state or local rules of court or adopted by that jurisdiction, if any, will supersede. If there are no transcript format guidelines established within a jurisdiction, the following minimum transcript format standards shall apply:

(1) No fewer than 25 typed lines per page;

(2) A full line of text shall be no less than 56 characters unless timestamping is used, in which case no fewer than 52 characters shall be used on a full line of text;

(3) Timestamping may only be printed on a transcript under any of the following circumstances:

(A) when a deposition is videotaped;

(B) when requested by counsel on the record; or

(C) when a transcript will have not less than 56 characters per line.

(4) Left-hand margin is defined as the first character of a line of text;

(5) Each question and answer is to begin on a separate line;

(6) Text is to begin no more than 10 spaces from the left margin. "Q" and "A" symbols shall appear within the first 8 spaces from the left-hand margin;

(7) Carry-over "Q" and "A" lines to begin at the left-hand margin;

(8) Colloquy and paragraphed material to begin no more than 10 spaces from the left-hand margin with carry-over colloquy to the left-hand margin;

(9) Quoted material to begin no more than 14 spaces from the left-hand margin with carry-over lines to begin no more than 10 spaces from the left-hand margin;

(10) Parenthetical and exhibit markings of two lines or more shall be no less than 35 characters per line; and

(11) In colloquy, text shall begin no more than two spaces after the colon following speaker "ID."

(b) Failure to comply with these minimum standards, as noted above, constitutes grounds for disciplinary action.

NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 8007, 8008 and 8025, Business and Professions Code; Reference: Section 8025, Business and Professions Code, Section 11425.50(e); Government Code.


Q. What is the effective date of these regulations? Will it apply to depositions I've taken prior to the date even though I haven't transcribed them yet? What about copies ordered after February 10, 2000?

A. The effective date of the Minimum Transcript Format Standards was February 10, 2000. These regulations only affect transcripts that are initially transcribed on or after February 10, 2000. Any copies requested for transcripts that were prepared prior to the new guidelines should remain in the format used for the original transcript.

Q. In reference to (5), what space does my Q/A symbol need to start at? Also, am I required to use a period after the Q/A?

A. The Q and A symbol must precede the first character of text. Text must begin no more than 10 spaces from the left-hand margin (i.e., first character of text shall begin on the tenth space, not the eleventh). The use of a period (after a Q/A) is a matter of style and is not addressed in the regulation.

Q. What about the appearance, index and certificate pages? How about date lines and witness setups? What about rough draft transcripts? Do these apply to those areas as well?

A. No. If a particular item is not specifically addressed in the minimum transcript format standard, you are free to continue to prepare it as you always have in the past.

Q. My agency formats my transcripts. I really don't know what it looks like after I submit my ASCII to them. Am I responsible if I don't have control over what the agency prints out as my final work product?

A. You are absolutely responsible to meet these guidelines as you are the licensee that is certifying the transcript. If the Board receives a complaint regarding this issue, you are the one that will have to address the complaint, not your firm. If you are a licensee that sends your transcripts electronically to a firm, you should seriously consider using a digital signature. The digital signature will be voided if the format (or anything else, for that matter) is changed.

Q. Are these standards in stone or is it possible there will be amendments?

A. For now they are in "stone." However, regulations can always be amended. Other than nonsubstantial changes (i.e., typo, name change), the public must be notified of any potential changes to the regulations and be given sufficient time (45 days) to oppose or support the amendment.