Who can I pay to type up my notes?
October 29, 2009 7:27 PM   Subscribe

TypeMyNotesPleaseFilter: I periodically find myself in need of this service, which obviously must exist, yet I cannot find. I have a bunch of handwritten notes, not written with any kind of fancy smartpen, but rather, just pencil on paper. I would like to be able to scan said notes myself and send them to some kind of service wherein I can pay someone to type them up and send me back a decently formatted copy with a turnaround time of 12-24 hours. Who do I ask to do this?

There are a number of past posts on OCR-related methods for doing this, but I've never used one that actually works. Generally, the transcription would be happening during nighttime in the US. I'd far rather have a reasonable level of errors than pay top dollar for camera-ready copy. Of course, I need a usable level of quality as well.

For the most part, these are notes for personal use, without any specialized medical or legal terms. I've found tons of audio transcription services that will type up conversations, but I'm having a ton of trouble finding the 2009-era quick and dirty (i.e. fast and cheap) equivalent to Allison, Don Draper's secretary on Mad Men for a little word processing.

Bonus points if you've used one of these services before and can recommend them or give tips on their use. At this point, even a better idea of what I should be Googling for would be quite helpful.
posted by zachlipton to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like just the thing that Amazon's Mechanical Turk was built for. Just create an account, set a price per page, and wait for it to get done. It should be done within a few hours if you set the right price.
posted by plasticbugs at 7:30 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm broke, and could use a few extra bucks here and there. Quick typist, can decipher most handwriting, and I'll even throw in my penchant for OCD-like perfectionism for free. How long-term would this service be?
posted by potatopeople at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2009

Response by poster: plasticbugs: I thought about MTurk when I was researching this, and while I'm not opposed to the idea (nothing sensitive in these notes), it seems like it would be a pain to setup for occasional use. Would I not need to setup a webpage for each page of the document with a form for the users to submit the results and have to deal with the quality control issues myself? Or is there an easier way to tap into the Turk's hivemind for this kind of application?
posted by zachlipton at 7:35 PM on October 29, 2009

As I understand it, Amazon hosts the content and sets up a database driven system automatically, so you can see at a glance what's been completed, what the output was and you decide whether the tasks were completed successfully (debiting your account in the process).

The Turk system will actually lock a task element as it's being worked on so that other workers won't double up and transcode the same page at the same time.

You just need to scan in the images at a legible resolution and upload them to your Turk account.
posted by plasticbugs at 7:39 PM on October 29, 2009

umm...Jobs? I'm willing to be lots of us have transcription experience and would be happy to take that on.
posted by faineant at 8:57 PM on October 29, 2009

^bet. :-)
posted by faineant at 8:58 PM on October 29, 2009

Honestly, I don't know what you're using the notes for, but I find that rewriting/retyping my notes myself helps me understand/memorize the material a lot better.
posted by radioamy at 9:17 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

BTW, I just send you a mefi mail. I could do this easily. I kind of enjoy typing...
posted by Kloryne at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2009

Scan them and send them to Evernote. Even your handwriting becomes searchable, and you can access your notes from any computer and most phones.
posted by Joleta at 10:10 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you can use other solutions (Evernote, MTurk, MeFi jobs), but... assuming you live near any place that's got some kind of a bulletin board, ideally a college or university, just post a flyer with your number saying you'll pay whatever it is you're willing to pay, in cash, for typing services. I'm fairly sure there are plenty of broke college kids near you who are willing to be the Allison to your Don Draper for some beer money.
posted by asciident at 10:43 PM on October 29, 2009

Here's another offer of "I'll do it". I've got too much time on my hands, not enough money, and an outrageous (to most of my friends/family) typing speed that I do next to nothing important/productive with.

MeMail me if you'd like.
posted by MuChao at 9:09 AM on October 30, 2009

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