Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



The problem.

The purpose of this study was to determine and to analyze the procedures and related practices that characterize office dictation as it is given in representative offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Interviews held with forty dictators of office dicta­tion and the forty persons who transcribed their dictation yielded cur­rent data concerning dictation procedures. Organizations represented were distributors of goods and services, educational institutions, gov­ernment, manufacturing businesses, military establishments; and- service organizations. One-half of the dictators were asked to dictate three or four items each to be tape-recorded as a supplement to the interviews.

Findings and conclusions.

Findings pertained to selection of the secretary, recording of the dictation, practices related to the dicta­tion, characteristics of materials dictated, and speeds of dictation.

Findings representative of those concerning selection of the sec­retary revealed that attributes assigned a No. 1 in importance by about one-half or more of the dictators were attitude; health; manner of speaking; neat appearance; poise; test results of general knowledge, as mathematics, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary; test results of transcription of dictation; and test results of typewriting.

Shorthand was the most widely used method of recording the dicta­tion. About one-third of the secretaries, however, did some transcrib­ing from records of dictation given to dictating machines.

Practices related to the dictation revealed that most of the sec­retaries who did any transcribing from records of dictation given to dictating machines received the instruction for this kind of transcrip­tion while at work. Transcribing required not over 30 per cent of the working day for 60 per cent of the secretaries.

Characteristics of materials dictated included those of both gross words and net words, the latter being words for transcription. About one-third of the dictators whose dictation was tape-recorded made no repetitions; ��bout the same number, no changes. One-half of the. dic­tators did not spell any words, and the others spelled only proper nouns. Net words dictated were analyzed for kinds of sentences, reading diffi­culty, sentence length, syllable intensity, and opportunities for within-­the-sentence punctuation left to the decisions of secretaries. According to the readability formula used, dictated materials of one-third of the dictators were at the college or college graduate reading levels.

Speeds had considerable range, over-all speeds varying from 43 to 149 net words per minute, with gross speeds averaging about ten words per minute higher. Per-item speeds ranged from 40 to 168 net words per minute.

Conclusions from these representative findings were as follows: Personal traits might be of considerable importance in the selection of secretaries. Education for secretaries should include transcription from records of dictation given to dictating machines, as well as tran­scription from shorthand notes, and preparation for duties other than transcription. Apparent abilities for high shorthand speed should be developed. Proficiency in spelling, punctuation, and reading vocabu­lary appeared basic to secretarial positions involving transcription.

Document Type


Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

John Allen Rider

Second Committee Member

Alvin W. Howard

Third Committee Member

Richard Warner

Fourth Committee Member

Louis A. Bransford