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How to Calculate Lines in a Medical Transcription Report

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Calculating lines in a medical transcription report can consist of counting each line of type on a page or every character on a page. In 2007, the American Health Information Management Association and Medical Transcription Industry Association Joint Task Force on Standards Development recommended the "visible black character" method of line counting become the industry standard because it is the only one "that can be easily understood, verified and replicated by all parties in the medical transcription business processes." However, as of 2009, there is no official industry standard, and much variability still exists in how lines are counted.

Calculate lines based on the total number of visible characters only and divide by 65 to determine the total number of lines. This is the "visible black character line." Do not count formatting, spaces or returns. Do not count functions, such as spell check. The visual black character line eliminates any variability in counting lines, such as whether to count spaces, macros or hidden format codes, and is easily validated. Though recommended as an industry standard, this method is only in limited use.

Determine the number of characters in a medical transcription report by using the counting utility in your word processing program. Divide the number of characters by 65 to get a total number of lines for a report. This "65-character line" or "net line" method is widely used, though some companies may or may not count spaces, formatting or macros, and may use a different line length, which affects total number of lines. For example, a 70-character line length would result in fewer total lines.

Count the number of lines on a page, including partial lines. A "gross line" is any line with one or more characters on it. All lines are counted equally regardless of length. This counting method is impacted by font size, margin size and type size. Some companies may subtract a certain number of lines from the total to account for partial lines.


Based in Arizona, Kira Jaines writes health/fitness and travel articles, volunteers with Learning Ally and travels throughout the Southwest. She has more than 16 years of experience in transcribing and editing medical reports. Jaines holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and journalism from Northern Arizona University.

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