Which Transcription Style is Best for You?
When planning a transcription project, you need to consider several factors like cost, turnaround time, layout, time-coding, etc. But perhaps the most important thing to consider is the transcription style.
So what is a transcription style?
A transcription style is simply a set of editing guidelines that tell a transcriptionist know how you’d like them to handle grammar, sentence structure, and detail in a transcript.
Let’s take a look at each of these elements.
Element #1: Grammar
Grammatical errors are common in spoken English. Here’s an example:
[Original] My husband have been travelling this past week.
[Corrected] My husband has been travelling this past week.
Now, if this comment was made during a research interview, you may want it transcribed exactly the way it was said [Original]. However, if it was a side-comment – say during a small business master class – you might want it corrected or maybe even removed altogether.
Element #2: Sentence Structure
Here’s an example of incorrect sentence structure:
[Original] And Claire, one thing, I think it’s on screen right now, can you see the pyramid slide?”
[Paraphrased] Claire, can you see the pyramid slide on the screen right now?
In this example, the original sentence was paraphrased to make it easier to read without changing the meaning.
Like grammar, you may or may not want sentence structure to be improved, based on the way you intend using the transcript.
Element #3: Detail
There are several elements in recorded speech apart from the core words used by speakers. People use speech elements fillers (um, uh, okay, you know, etc.), false starts (incomplete sentences), and stutters while talking in a flow.
There is also non-verbal communication like pauses, laughter, ambient sounds, etc. on the recording that may add meaning to what’s being said. Whether or not these elements are included in a transcript depends on the transcription style you choose.
You can probably guess by now that a transcript can be highly detailed or very concise depending on the transcription style used.
There are three transcription styles commonly used.
3 Transcription Styles
1. Intelligent Verbatim Transcription
The intelligent verbatim style of transcription uses detailed editing and paraphrasing to create an easy-to-read and ready-to-print transcript.
[Original] I really uh…I really just like the core values and then in the manual reporting, that first slide on manual… yeah that one, that had the site… uh… I think it’s one up maybe. You know, maybe I’m wrong but that looks like a site to me, like a site board and so I thought, as a viewer….
[Intelligent Verbatim] I really just like the core values and then that first slide on manual reporting. Maybe I’m wrong but that looks like a site to me, like a site board. So I thought, as a viewer…
The transcriber types verbatim and then edits the document to remove irrelevant words and phrases that break the flow of reading – like fillers, false starts, repetitions, etc.
The transcriber also corrects minor grammatical errors, paraphrases broken sentences, and presents the text in short, easy-to-read paragraphs.
If the purpose of your transcript is to convey what was said as clearly and concisely as possible, then the intelligent verbatim style of transcription is a great choice.
Frequently used for: Business recordings, publishing, seminars, lectures, podcasts, etc.
2. Verbatim Transcription
Verbatim transcription is word-for-word transcription of the audio with light editing to improve readability.
[Original] Uh..on a weekly basis that works out to [pause]…that works out to about 20 hours a week- 22 hours a week.
[Verbatim] On a weekly basis that works out to about 20 hours a week- 22 hours a week.
In this style, only fillers and irrelevant false start (incomplete sentences) are removed to create a neater transcript. However, there is no paraphrasing or correction of grammatical errors.
If you need to know the exact words used by the speakers, without the irrelevant bits, then this is the right transcription style for you.
Frequently used for: Market research, academic research, journalistic articles, etc.
3. True Verbatim Transcription
True verbatim is the most detailed style of transcription that includes every word, sound and non-verbal communication (like laughter and pauses) on the recording.
Here’s an example:
[Original] Um, and then a colleague of mine found out that…[laughs]found out that you could get a shortened course for people who had a primary- a secondary degree and therefore I- so I qualified [pause].
[True Verbatim] Um, and then a colleague of mine found out that…[laughs]found out that you could get a shortened course for people who had a primary- a secondary degree and therefore I- so I qualified [pause].
In this style the recording is transcribed without deleting or editing anything. It’s meant for transcripts where every little detail is required for research & analysis purposes.
Frequently used for: Academic research.
When deciding which transcription style is best for you, think about how you plan to use the transcripts and what is the level of detail required. Remember if a pre-defined style doesn’t suit your project, you can always provide a customized transcription style for your transcription service to follow.
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