What You Didn’t Know About Formatting Legal Documents

lega-document-marginsFormatting legal documents properly can be a lengthy and tedious process.  This is where knowing things like styles, offered in MS Word, comes in handy and will save time and cost.

What are some formatting considerations?

Paper Size

In 1972 Canada adopted the ISO (international standard) paper sizes.  However, this does not mean that you can simply choose whatever paper size you want and set your legal document margins and be done.  The United States has its own set of legal paper sizes or the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) sizes.  In 1976 the Standards Council of Canada created comparable paper sizes in metric with the Paper Sizes for Correspondence CAN 2-9.60M Standard.  These are listed as P1 to P6 and roughly correlate to the United States ANSI A, B, C, and D paper sizes.  However, much of North America corresponds to the American ANSI paper sizes.  In the United States, legal paper (or 8.5 inches by 14 inches) is often standard.

Spacing and Margins

If you are using a popular writing program like Microsoft Office, you can save time by choosing the pre-set options for legal papers.  These will set the appropriate margin sizes for you as well as correct spacing.  However, you will most likely need to go in and customize at least a few of these settings.  For example, the top margin should be two inches (about 50 millimeters), with the bottom margin about half of that.  Your organization, lawyer, or client may need different margins.  Justification is optional. The majority of legal documents use 1.5 or double-spacing.


Avoid any flowery fonts when typing a legal document.  While the standard has been Times New Roman or even Arial, some newer schools of thought recommend using Adobe Garamond instead.  The reasoning behind the change in font is subjective, with proponents of Garamond saying that it adds a little bit of “class” to a document.  A number of courts and lawyers use Courier, Verdana, and Tahoma.  Remember that some fonts might need to be court-approved, meaning that you must use the correct font on your legal documents.  Check before selecting a font.  You might find that your options are extensive or very limited.

These are just a few of the key aspects of legal document formatting.  Speak with a professional word processing service about how to best format your legal document.  They may offer affordable services to help you.

How Long Does Transcription Take?

transcription-softwareMany individuals do not realize how long it takes to create a professional transcript.  There are many steps to the process.  Each step requires the skills of a highly trained professional, transcription software, and agility on the keyboard.  A good transcription can take a significant bit of time.  Let’s take a moment to discuss the transcription process.

The Basics

A professional transcription company does more than listen to a recording and then quickly type what they think they hear.  This is a highly skilled process.  For example, the transcriber will often listen to the recording, yes, but they will also take the time to research the subject.  Understanding the context of the subject is essential.  The transcriber will often use professional transcription software.  Software programs that allow them to play one channel, four channels, insert time codes, hear the audio at various speeds and show the video so on-screen text can be seen when you want on-screen text added to the transcript.

How Long Does It Take?

There are many estimates, but a good transcriber can take anywhere from four to nine hours to transcribe an hour of video accurately.  Factors like the subject, number of speakers, audio quality, accents, and whether “um’”s and stutters need to be transcribed all factor into the end time required for transcription.

Anything technical, especially university lectures or videos with many names and places, can take significant time to transcribe.  Highly technical subjects can take a longer time to transcribe.  For example, transcription of a lecture on string theory would involve more work and knowledge than transcription of a voicemail message.  Likewise with transcription of an immigration hearing.  The professional transcriber wants to ensure accuracy above all else.

How to Minimize Cost

If you are preparing audio for a transcription service, there are several things you can to do reduce the length of time and overall cost.  Consider the length of the video, the number of speakers, and the technical subject.  Plan these out when you are setting up your initial recording.

Even more importantly, make sure the audio is clear.  If possible, minimize noise and clipping when recording. Be sure to test microphones ahead of time. Use a lavalier microphone attached to the collar of the speaker instead of a microphone several meters away.  Have a professional monitor the initial audio.  This will ensure that the words come out audibly and clearly.

Avoid outdoor recording in places with loud ambient noises like cars, dogs barking or an airport.  A directional microphone or lavalier mic can reduce unwanted noise.  Inaudible recordings can contribute substantially to the length of time of transcription as the transcriber will have to replay sections often and still may not be able to decipher what is being said.

Where appropriate, ask participants to repeat themselves if you feel they were not clear or loud enough.  Or ask them at the outset of the recording to speak loud and clear.

A good transcript will take several hours to produce.  Even though it may seem like a long time, the reality is that in the end you will have a professional transcript that represents well what you took the time to record.

6 Tips for Typing Screenplays in Final Draft

how-to-write-a-scriptFinally, you have completed the rough draft of your screenplay and you are ready to send it off to would-be producers and directors. You need to format it, clean it up, make it look professional. You can do this with Final Draft Software. But knowing how to write a script in Final Draft takes a little know-how and technical prowess. Here are a few helpful tips.

100 Templates

If you are new to writing scripts, using one of the dozens of templates available will save you time. There are script options as specific as Screenplay formats for Warner Brothers, to screenplays in French or German, graphic novels, and regular text documents.


Yes, believe it or not, you can use the text-to-speech function in Final Draft to catch mistakes that you normally would miss just by glancing at a page. This is not going to be an Oscar-worthy reading. If anything, the computerized voices will effectively dampen any emotion or drama that you had in your script. However, this function will catch little mistakes in sentence structure, repeated words, and other issues that may not pop up normally. Additionally, Final Draft for Mac also has a Dictation function, allowing you a fully hands-free writing experience.

The Power of the Elements

Newbies to Final Draft often find scrolling up and down, up and down, and up and down again a bit annoying. However, the element pop-up menu can minimize the unnecessary scrolling. Hitting return twice brings up this helpful tool. Knowing how to write a screenplay with this tool will save you some unnecessary hassle.


Do you like marking up scripts with pen? Need to remember something really, really important for later? Then you can use the Scriptnotes function. This gives you hideable notes where you can comment and upload script sections. It only takes a few clicks to hide and show the Scriptnotes. The newest version of Final Draft allows you to print out the notes.

Formatting Assistant

The Formatting Assistant formats and paginates your script. The formatting is up to current industry standards. The Formatting Assistant lets you know if you have made any errors and provides suggestions for fixing major problems.


The newer version of Final Draft has collaboration features that allow you to work with a partner remotely. Writers can update the script in real time using the software. With more and more collaborations taking place remotely over long distances, this may be one of the best features of Final Draft to date.

What is a VTT File?

what-is-a-vtt-fileCreating subtitles and captions involves knowing about VTT files. Whether you are trying to learn how to create a VTT file online or have hired a professional transcription service, it is important to know the basics of the VTT file format and what it means. The WebVTT format provides needed information for captions, subtitles, chapters and content navigation, metadata, and video descriptions. This format replaced the Web SRT format (or Web Subtitle Resource Tracks) in 2010.

Just What is a VTT File?

The VTT file format displays time text tracks like captions and subtitles using the <track> element. If you don’t know, the HTML <track> element is a child of media elements like <video> or <audio>. This allows you to automatically handle subtitles. This specific format is entirely text based. There is no video date in the format. You must encode using UTF-8. The data and the tracks do have a basic API (Application Programming Interface) that allows playback of text to test timing. These are important to know whether you have to create a VTT file online, using a professional service, or have to quality check the subtitles and captions on a project.

Some Important Terms

Before you embark on creating VTT file formats, you need to be familiar with several terms. The BOM is the optional byte order. The cue lets you know where in the timecode the viewer will see the text. Comments are optional. They can be very helpful in providing useful information. Keep in mind that the comments are not seen by the viewers of the video.

Dissecting the Basic Structure of WebVTT

There are several key components prevalent in the basic structure of the WebVTT format. Not all components must be present, though some are mandatory. Keep in mind that there are some detailed rules when creating the VTT file involving use of spaces, ampersand characters, less-than signs, and other text.

Below is a very basic example of the format.

  1. The BOM or “optional byte order” mark is followed by the string “WEBVTT”.
  1. There is an optional text header. This is to the right of WEBVTT.
  1. You may add a description to the WEBVTT file in this section within certain parameters.
  1. Insert a blank line.
  1. Zero or more comments and/or cues.
  1. Zero or more blank lines.

While there are many ways to write this out, this basic outline for the VTT file format is a good start. Contact a professional transcription service about how you can use subtitles and transcriptions in your next video production.


A Filmmaker’s Guide to Perfectly Formatted Short Film Scripts

short-film-scriptsYou have been writing your screenplay for several months, or years. Finally, you will have a chance to pitch your idea for an engaging love story between a cricket named Walt and a rambunctious but endearing alien named Sue. But before any writer can send out their masterpiece, they have to format. How to format short film scripts? Here is a simple guide to start you on your journey to filmmaking legend.

The Basics

Before you even start to worry about page margins and fonts, make sure that your screenplay is good. And I don’t mean good enough for your mom and grandma to enjoy when they can’t load Netflix. It needs to be good, with a clear and compelling story, believable characters, and a plot that makes sense. Even in a short film there is a very clear story presented, with a beginning, middle, and end. If you aren’t sure about the quality of your screenplay, take it to a local writer’s group or share it with some of your filmmaker friends. Then listen to their honest feedback.


There are many different international standards for screenplays. Here we will go with the formatting expected for big studio films in North America. However, if you plan on pitching your screenplay overseas, be sure to find out if they have different guidelines. Short film scripts, just like big name blockbuster Hollywood type scripts, needs to be written with Courier Font 12 point. Why? The length of your film is often determined by the length of the script, when it is properly formatted. Roughly one page of your script is equal to one minute of screen time. It’s not an exact science, but that is just one reason why the correct font is necessary.

The top margin needs to be one inch (2.5 cm). Both the right and bottom margins can be roughly the same with minimal leeway. Because you need space for binding, the left margin should be around 1.5 inches (or about 3.8 cm). And guess what two words need to start out your short film, always? FADE IN. This needs to be in upper case, flush left. Add a colon then go to the next line.


Your short film scene heading will be flush left, as well, in caps. Use EXT (exterior) and INT (interior) for each scene, as well as indicated DAY or NIGHT. For example, INT. FRED’S BUTCHER SHOP – NIGHT. Then begin with your action and dialog. Action will describe what the audience will see and hear. Dialog is what the characters say. The dialog is centered while the action is left justified.

Keep the action and dialog crisp and short. This is not a novel. This is a short film screenplay. You want to write exactly what the audience will experience with their senses, not what is going on in the head of the character, unless you can show them. For example, if a character is angry, he or she might throw a cup of coffee against a wall or yell at their students.

Other Important Terms

You might need to have a character yell from a bedroom off-screen or off-camera. This is abbreviated with “O.S.” A voice-over is indicated with “V.O.” Transitions like “DISSOLVE” are often avoided but you can add them in your script. Know the difference between s “spec script” and the “shooting script”. Most writers are working on a spec script. This script does not have camera actions added. It is simple, without additional details and direction. The shooting script is the script actually used in production. This may have additional camera cues and editing directions. There are many available books to help you with your short film script or you can hire a professional script service to get you on your way.


The Lesser Known Benefits of Using a Video Transcription Service

video transcription service in Toronto All it takes is a few minutes of web surfing to see how much the Internet has changed in the last decade. What used to be a text based medium has been transformed through the miracle of broadband into a global platform for sharing videos. Need proof? Okay. Do you know what the world’s 2nd largest search engine is today after Google? It’s YouTube. Not only that, but every minute more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and every day more than 1 billion YouTube videos are watched by people using mobile devices. The problem is it’s not easy to find what you’re looking for in a video. That’s why more and more people are discovering the value of a good video transcription service in Toronto.

Why Video Transcription Service in Toronto is So Important

More and more people are discovering that transcription is an invaluable ally in the quest to make the most of their video content. Here are a few examples of why that is:

  • Text files are searchable – When you’re watching a video and want to find the place where someone made a particular point your only option is to click around. Even time stamps aren’t a very effective way to find exactly what you’re after. When you transcribe the video you can search for a keyword that will take you to the exact place you’re searching for in a split second.
  • Transcription lets you repurpose video content – A video is a video is a video. Unless of course you transcribe it. Once you do the content of that video can be repurposed into web pages, blog posts, emails, promotional materials and even referenced in other videos. Transcription allows you to get the most out of your video content.
  • Transcription lets you use video content to aid in your SEO efforts – You can have the greatest, most informative video ever made on your website but Google’s bots can’t search it. As such it won’t help in your SEO efforts. However, if you transcribe that video and use the information to create blog posts Google will scan those posts and your transcribed video content will help boost your organic search results page ranking.
  • Transcription lets you broaden your appeal – As popular as video has become there are still a lot of people who prefer to read rather than listen and watch. If you transcribe your video and create an article based on it then your web page will appeal both to those who prefer to watch and those who prefer to read.
  • Increased accessibility – Even in an age when high speed wi-fi is the norm not everyone is able to stream video easily on their PC or mobile devices. By offering a transcribed version of your video you’re making the content accessible to a wider audience. That wider audience also includes the hearing impaired.

For timely, reliable video transcription service in Toronto contact Flaming Fingers. We’re the GTA’s #1 source for high quality transcription of audio and video files large and small.