Punctuation and Spacing Source: http://www.mtdaily.com/style.html
Basic Style Guide
The 2005 changes made by AAMT are not included in this style guide. These are the generally accepted rules of medical transcription as taught by GMT. Client preference will always take precedence. We encourage your input for additions to this page. Include them in an email t
We created this list for our students as a quick reference of generally accepted rules of medical transcription. It is not intended to supplant any other publication regarding transcription style. We publish it here solely as a service to the MT community. We hope you find it useful.- GMT
: In medical transcription, the Golden Rule applies.
"Those with the gold make the rules." Therefore, client preference always takes precedence.
Basic Rules of Transcription
I. Spacing With Punctuation Marks
Do Not Type a Space .
following a period used as a decimal point
between quotation marks and the quoted material
between parentheses and the enclosed material
between any word and the punctuation following it.
between the number and the colon used to indicate a dilute solution or ratio.
on either side of the colon when expressing the time of day
before or after a comma used within numbers
before or after an ampersand in abbreviations, e.g., C&S
on either side of the colon when expressing ratios e.g. 1:1
after the closing parenthesis if another mark of punctuation follows
Type One Space.
on each side of the x in an expression of dimension, e.g. 4 x 4
Type Two Spaces.
after punctuation at the end of a sentence
after a colon except when expressing time or a dilution ratio
Spell out WHOLE numbers zero through nine, use numerals for 10 and above (this
may change in the near future as the AAMT is trying to standardize using numerals only. When the next edition of the AAMT Book of Style is published (Spring 2002), you can probably expect new
Use numerals when numbers are directly used with symbols.
If it is an approximate age, spell it out.
Use numerals to express size and measurements.
Use numerals for everything metric. Centimeters, millimeters, liters, etc.
Use numerals in all expressions pertaining to drugs - this includes strength, dosage
and directions. Z-PAK 2 daily on day 1, then 1 daily on days 2-5.
Spell out and hyphenate fractions standing alone. He drank one-half a gallon of apple
Use numerals to express mixed fractions. 1 1/2 years.
Use commas only if there are 5 or more digits when expressing numbers. e.g.
Use numerals when expressing vital statistics including height, weight, blood
Substitute a hyphen for the word "to". He is to take 1-2 tablets of Tylenol every 4-6
Leave a space between numerals and measurements unless they form a compound
modifier. It is 6 cm below the . It is 1200 ml. A 4-cm nevus. A 2 x 2-mm lesion.
Always use 0 in front of the decimal point if the number is not a whole number. 0.75
Use decimal fractions with metric measurements. 1.5 cm
Use mixed fractions with English system measurements. 1 1/2 inch
Use numerals for: Ages, units of measure, vital statistics, lab values and in other
instances where it is important to communicate clearly the number referenced. Examples: 4 inches, 3-year-old. She has three dogs who have eight fleas each. A total of 7 basal cell carcinomas removed from his left arm. (7 for clarity)
Do not start a sentence using a number. Spell out the number or recast the
Dictated as: 10 milligrams of Reglan was administered stat. Transcribe as: Reglan
Exception - It is acceptable to begin a sentence with a date. Example - 2000 is going
- do not use an apostrophe to form plural numbers.
She was in her 20s or twenties (this is acceptable because it is not a definite
Series of numbers
- Use numerals if at least one is greater than nine or if there is a
Example - Jeff has 1 job, 1 place of employment and 18 hours a day to do the work.
Cranial nerves - Preferred: Roman numerals I-XII
Diabetes type 1 and type 2, not Roman numerals I and II - this was recently
standardized by the American Diabetes Association.
Apgar scores - Use numerals for ratings and spell out numbers relating to minutes.
Rationale - to draw attention to the scores. Example: The Apgar scores were 6 and 9 at one and five minutes. Apgar is not an acronym.
midnight, not 12:00 midnight or 12 'o'clock or 12:00 p.m.
Spell out all nonmetric measurements. Feet, inches, pounds, ounces, yards, grain,
Use F for Fahrenheit IF accompanied by the symbol for degree. 98.6ï¿½F
Spell out Fahrenheit IF degree is spelled out. 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use C for Celsius IF accompanied by the symbol for degree. 36ï¿½C
Spell out Celsius IF degree is spelled out. 36 degrees Celsius.
In tables and technical documents:
Abbreviate most unusual
units of measure when accompanied by numerals
Spell out a symbol when used alone (with no number).
Use symbols when they are used with numbers
Abbreviations when the words they represent are capitalized
The first word following a colon if it begins a complete sentence or is part of an
The names of the days of the week, months, holidays, historic events and religious
The names of specific departments or sections in the institution only when the
The names of diseases that include proper nouns, eponyms or genus names
The names of races, peoples, religions and languages. Black, as a race designation
would be capitalized, however client preferences may differ.
Do Not Capitalize.
The spelled out names of the chemical elements
The names of viruses unless they include a proper noun
The common noun following the brand name. Example - Tylenol tablets
The names of medical or surgical specialties
Designations based on skin color, like "a tall white man."
These prefixes do not require the use of a connecting hyphen in compound terms:
Examples - antecubital not ante-cubitalAlso Correct - antithesis, bitemporal, counterproductive, defibrillated, extrapyramidal, infraumbilical, interpersonal, intracranial, microhematuria, midline, nontender, nondistended, nonfocal, nonspecific, noncontributory, noncompliance, nonicteric, nonsmall, overestimate, overweight, preoperative, postoperative, posttraumatic, pseudogout, semicircular, sublingual, superimposed, supramammary, transvaginal, ultraviolet, underweight, weightbearing.
use a hyphen with prefixes ending in a or i and a base word beginning with the same letter.
Example - anti-inflammatory. Do
use a hyphen when compounded with the prefix self.
Example - self-administered, self-monitored. For Clarification
- Use a hyphen after a prefix if not
using a hyphen would change the meaning of
the word. Examples - re-cover (to cover again) versus recover (regain)
VII. Cancer Classifications
Stage and grade - do not capitalize either one if it does not begin a sentence.
For clarity, use capital letters or arabic suffixes without spaces or hyphens.
VIII. Drug Terminology
If dictated q. four hours - transcribed as q.4h. not q. 4 hours.
When referring to drugs including strength, dosage and directions - Use Arabic
numerals only. Example - The patient was prescribed penicillin 500 mg t.i.d. for 5 days.
If there is no whole number, always add a 0 in front of the decimal point for clarity -
this is a general rule when transcribing numbers, not just medications. Example - Dictated as Synthroid point 75 mg a day. Transcribe as Synthroid 0.75 mg q.d.
Be aware that some drugs are commonly dictated in either milligrams or micrograms.
Example - Synthroid 0.05 mg or Synthroid 50 mcg.
IX. Lab Test Punctuation Guidelines
Use commas to separate multiple related
test results. Here are some examples:
CBC reveals an RBC count of 10.2, WBC 6.8, platelets 220,000, reticulocyte
count 1 with 3 monos, 1 eos and 0 basos.
Electrolytes reveal a serum sodium of 138, potassium 4.0, chloride 100 and
Use periods to separate unrelated
laboratory test results. For example,
Keep logically connected items on the same line. Drug doses, names, dates, sets,
Lopressor 100 mg. Keep all 3 items on the same line.
Dr. Fred Farnsworth. Keep the doctors title and full name on the same line.
January 14, 2000. Keep the entire date on the same line.
100 pounds. Keep both words on the same line.
Names with junior or senior attached. Use a comma before and a period after the
Example - Jeramiah Johnson, Jr. or Jeramiah Johnson Jr
Names with ordinals. Do not use comma between name and ordinal.
XI. Report Section Notes
History of Present Illness
- Mainly in present tense, but mixed tense may be appropriate.
Past Medical History
- Use past tense.
Allergies are typed either ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or bold font depending on client
preference. Example - If the allergy is dictated pcn, type PENICILLIN.
If the patient has no allergies use the phrase, "No known drug allergies."
Transcribe in continuous paragraph format, even when the doctor numbers the
medications. Example: Penicillin 500 mg t.i.d. for 5 days, levothyroxine 0.75 mg q.d. and Lopressor 50 mg b.i.d.
Capitalize brand name medications. DO NOT capitalize generic medications.
Use Latin drug abbreviations. Example - if dictated every day - transcribe q.d. If
dictated every four hours - transcribe q.4h. not q. 4 h.
Don't mix Latin and English terminology. Example: If dictated q. day - transcribe q.d.
When referring to strength, dosage and directions - Use Arabic numerals only.
If there is no whole number, add a zero in front of the decimal point for clarity. This is
a general rule when transcribing numbers, not just medications. Example: Dictated as Synthroid point 75 milligrams a day. Transcribe Synthroid 0.75 mg q.d.
Transcribe in present tense in ALL of the major report formats.
Vital Signs - Should look like this: Temperature 98.0, BP 140/80, pulse 76 and
No abbreviated medical terminology. Type the entire term or phrase. Example - If
the doctor dictates CAD, type coronary artery disease.
Numbers follow the same rules for any section of the transcript. Example - A 31-
Abbreviate units of measure, e.g. MG, MM, CM, etc.
The title Doctor is written out, not abbreviated.
In discharge summaries EXCEPT for the History of Present Illness and the
Use the correct verb tense to communicate the appropriate time of the
action. Even if the dictator inadvertently changes tense during the dictation.
XII. Things to check when proofreading a document
Singulars versus plurals - sclera or sclerae?
No abbreviations in diagnoses or procedures
We encourage your input for additions to this page. Include them in an email to
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