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Transcription formats: how to choose what's right for you

Few people speak in perfect written prose. We all have our verbal quirks and would probably be horrified to hear a recording of ourselves speaking in supposedly coherent sentences. This article addresses the pros and cons of different transcript formats: intelligent verbatim, complete verbatim or edited transcription.

Our speech is littered with verbal habits we simply don't hear. Eavesdrop on any ordinary conversation and you'll hear lots of hesitations, repetitions or clumsy English, as well as plenty of drifting off in mid sentence or switching thought in mid word. Do you really need all that to be transcribed?

We've found with most clients that it's the content of what people say that's important, not how they say it. There are exceptions of course where the style of the person speaking is as critical as the words they say. Typically, the under caution interviews or some university research interviews will need every utterance and all the emotion that goes with it. Transcription services can provide a selection of different transcript formats suitable to each client's needs. There are generally three styles available: complete verbatim, intelligent verbatim and edited transcription.

The most popular and cost effective choice is Intelligent Verbatim. This ensures a full, accurate transcript but omits all the verbal habits people develop, such as excessive use of 'you know' and 'kind of' as well as all the 'ums' and 'ers', unless they're relevant to the content. These meaningless fillers add nothing to the context of the transcript and take longer to transcribe. We think it makes sense to cut all that out, but leave the rest of the speech exactly as spoken, including unfinished sentences and contractions which still retain the overall style of the person speaking. This makes for a much easier transcript to read, and significantly cuts down on transcription time and costs. This type of transcript is commonly used for some one-to-one interviews, meetings, conferences, podcasts and webcasts. For some interviews, there may be a happy medium whereby a client needs the interviewer's questions to be tidied up and perhaps summarised, but the interviewee's responses left in full.

However, there are circumstances such as interviews for legal purposes or for university qualitative analysis where a client may require a Complete Verbatim transcript of absolutely everything said and how it was said,. This includes every repetition, 'ums', 'ers', 'you knows' and instances where people make several attempts to start a sentence, or drift off in mid comment with no logical end to a sentence. It endeavours to capture the conversational 'style' of the person, plus any dialect patterns and emotions where applicable, such as laughter. It also includes all housekeeping type opening and closing remarks. This obviously increases the time it takes to transcribe and is more expensive, so tends to be the least popular choice. Why pay for it if it really isn't necessary? It can also make for a very tedious 'read' when going through a transcript. Before requesting a transcript style, ask yourself whether it's really necessary for whatever use you'll be making of the end transcript?

A good halfway house is an Edited Transcription which is very useful for recordings such as conferences, lectures or podcasts, where the content is critical but perhaps the style or verbal quirks of the speaker don't need to be included. Any incorrect grammar, non-standard English or mistakes are corrected and sentences are tidied up where it's sensible to do so. This transcript format takes slightly longer to complete than Intelligent Verbatim but not as long as Complete Verbatim.


To illustrate the point more effectively, here are some examples of the different transcription formats. Given your 'end product' which one would you need?

Do you really want to read this in a transcript?
We should er you know organise the um conference for ….around about the er …. 15th of er next month, that's er, July I mean and erm by then we'll kinda know what's um gonna happen like, so er can we sorta get that organised, know what I mean?

Or would it be an easier read if it was intelligent verbatim?
We should organise the conference for around about the 15th of next month, July. By then we'll kind of know what's going to happen, so can we get that organised?

Or better still, an even more edited version?
We should organise the conference for around the 15th July. By then we will know what is going to happen. So can we get that organised?

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We specialise in digital transcription services including MP3 digital transcription, WAV digital transcription, WMA digital transcription among many other digital audio file formats. We also provide standard audio cassette tape transcription covering micro cassette or micro tape transcription, plus mini tape or mini cassette transcription which is also known as audio transcription or audio typing services. This can be extended to include minidisc or minidisk transcription services. Extensive experience in conference transcription services allows us to offer transcription of conference proceedings including keynote speaker and plenary session transcription, lecture transcription, seminar and symposia transcribing, Q&A session transcription and transcription of breakout sessions, roadshows, roundtable discussions and workshops. Interview transcription services form a core part of our service and include one-to-one interview transcription, as well as multiple participant interview transcription. We are pleased to offer discounted transcription services for charities, students and universities for their research interviews, particularly qualitative analysis transcription compatible with Nvivo and Atlas Ti. Support for oral history interview transcription projects can include both digital transcription services and audio tape transcription. A niche specialty is our podcast transcription services which also covers webcast transcription. Transcription services for authors, writers and journalists can include anything from digital dictation for article transcription and manuscript typing through to research interview transcription. Also offered is focus group transcription, forum transcribing, market research and vox pop interview transcription as well corporate or group meeting transcription services. Word processing services and digital dictation for correspondence is also included. Teleconferences and telephone interviews can be transcribed from digital and analogue formats. Analogue video tape transcriptions are offered along with digital video transcription services. Different transcription styles are available including Intelligent Verbatim Transcription, Complete Verbatim Transcription, Edited Transcription and customised transcription styles for Oral History projects and Focus Groups.

We are pleased to offer free Advice Pages: Equipment FAQs Overview Transcription Times and free Guidelines for: Conferences Dictation Digital Audio / Minidiscs Focus Groups / Forums Interviews Lectures / Speeches / Presentations Market Research Vox Pops Oral History Interview Projects Podcasts Audio Tapes Teleconferences / Telephone Interviews Digital DVD / Video Tapes Webcasts Workshops Our Home Page provides an overview of the wide range of transcription services we provide.

 

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