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The Audext blog

Automatic audio transcription service provider brings to you useful tips, trends and inspiring ideas on how to transcribe recordings easier.

What is a Verbatim Transcription?


verbatim transcription

In short, it is the process of converting audio into text

Verbatim transcription is a serious art that demands full attention because the details of the audio need to be captured as they are. When verbatim transcription is done properly, the reader of the transcript should be able to understand the speaker’s emotion, as though he was there when the speaker was talking. 

There are many reasons for converting audio to text, and this diversity created a need for different transcription methods. There are three different ways to convert your audio to text. 

These are: 

  • True verbatim transcription
  • Verbatim transcription and 
  • Clean or non-verbatim transcription. 

The first two are not appropriate for professional or business use, as they aren’t edited to remove grammatical errors and fillers.

When performing a true verbatim transcription, the transcriptionist converts audio to text, while fully capturing all that went on during the recording. The transcription note will capture details like the emotions of the speaker and how he interacted with his environment. Even fillers and repetitions will be captured here. 

Verbatim transcription is similar to true verbatim, except that, in this case, the transcriptionist is at liberty to cut out fillers and unnecessary repetitions.  

These two transcription types appeal more to students and researchers who are out for details. But in the professional world, none of these is acceptable. More careful work needs to be done, and that’s where clean or non-verbatim transcription comes in. 

Clean Verbatim Transcription

As the name probably suggests, the clean verbatim transcription is aimed at converting the audio into texts that are professional and reader-friendly. The two other forms of transcription can be done by literally anyone who has ears and is willing to pay attention and listen. But, clean verbatim transcription requires additional skills. 

The transcriptionist charged with clean verbatim transcription must be one who truly understands the language they are transcribing. This is because they aren’t just transcribing word for word. 

Clean transcription is more about writing the meaning of what the speaker is saying than about writing their words. So, it’s okay to do a little paraphrasing when necessary. Also, clean verbatim transcription removes all fillers, pauses, and grammatical errors. 

Clean verbatim transcription is sometimes called non-verbatim since it doesn’t necessarily translate word for word.  

Let’s have an example using all three verbatim transcription methods so you’ll really understand this. 

True Verbatim Transcript 

Er [clears throat] the football match was really amazing. Really. I enjoyed myself and Uhm Nancy, and I got to have fun together again. Yeah. You know it’s been a while since we went on a date. Awww man, I miss those intimate moments. [sniffs]

Verbatim Transcript

The football match was amazing. Really. I enjoyed myself. Nancy and I got to have fun together again. You know it’s been a while since we went on a date. Man, I miss those intimate moments.

Non-Verbatim Transcript 

The football match was amazing. Really. I enjoyed myself. Nancy and I got to have fun together again. You know it’s been a while since we went on a date. Man, I miss those intimate moments.

Verbatim Transcription Rules 

If you’re new to verbatim transcription, you will have a couple of things to be confused about. For instance, it’s common to worry over the appropriateness of paraphrasing sentences that do not make sense. 

You might also get confused as to how to go about transcribing the emotions of the speaker. But the following rules will provide answers to those — even guide you into a deeper understanding of the art of transcription. 

1. Do not omit any words 

This, of course, depends on how detailed you want your transcription to be. But as a general rule of thumb, do not try to change what the speaker is saying. Don’t use your own words to communicate the speaker’s intent unless your goal is to produce a clean transcript. 

  2. Emotions and interruptions 

How do you describe it when the speaker cries, laughs, or gets angry and hit the table during the recording? What if he has spoken and someone interrupted? You know those are important to the verbatim notes, but how do you communicate with them? 

Here is how: 

  • Use full stops (.), ellipses (…), or simply [pause] to describe a pause. However, since a pause that is longer than 6 seconds seem unusual, write out the estimated duration in a bracket. E.g. (7 sec)
  • Use short hyphens to describe interruptions. 

Example: 

David: Did you hear that sound? (8 sec) 

Sarah: What? No. Erhm…what?! –

David: – Look, Sarah, I think we have to go.  

  • Emotions: Simply insert the appropriate emotion in a bracket in the appropriate location. 

Example: 

Sarah: Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe I fell for that [laughs hysterically]

3. Get more detailed 

A good transcriptionist must have an ear for detail. Pay closer attention to catch those overlapping conversations, fillers, and false starts. 

Here is how you can represent them. 

  • Fillers: fillers are those words speakers use when trying to gather their thoughts. They are the “uhms”, “ahs” and “you know”. You should include them as the speaker uses them. For inspiration, refer to the first example of true verbatim. 
  •  False starts: Sometimes, speakers start with certain sentences or phrases, then change their minds and talk about something different. Don’t omit these in your transcripts. 

Similarly, do not fail to include things that happen in the environment at the time of recording the audio. Go into deep details. If the door opens, include it. If there was a sudden power outage, let your readers know about it. 

Verbatim Transcription Services

If you don’t want to handle your transcriptions yourself, there are many transcription outlets ready to help you. A simple Google search of the keyword “verbatim transcription service” will show you hundreds of transcription companies ready to help convert voice to text. 

You can also search for transcriptionists on marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr. The truth is, there is a sea of options to choose from. So, the question is not how to find a transcriptionist, but how to locate a one you can trust with your work. 

When hiring the services of a transcriptionist, look out for samples of their previous work, testimonials, pricing, and availability. If all — or at least the first two — are in place, you can go ahead to work with the company or freelancer. 

Another option is to do it yourself using AI technology. Audext can help with that. Audext is an online tool for converting audio to text. It’s fast, easy, and flexible. In addition to all that, Audext allows you to have 30 minutes of free trial so you can determine if it’s the right tool for you. 


Katrin Deres

10/11/2019

Katin runs her own podcast show, and interested in best ways to transcribe audio recordings into text.


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