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How Fast Do Transcriptionists Need to Type and How to Be Better at It?

Andrew Russo
Andrew Russo
Posted in Zoom Nov 15 · 16 Nov, 2015
How Fast Do Transcriptionists Need to Type and How to Be Better at It?

The typing speed of transcriptionists is undoubtedly important for their work performance. These professionals dedicate their time to transcribing recorded materials, so scribing at the speed of snails is not an option! But just how vital for the performance of scribes is this skill, and can one improve in it?

In this article, you'll find out why typing super fast is not a priority in this profession and what the secret to successful scribes is. After all, this time-consuming job requires excellent listening skills and a detail-oriented mindset! Please read on to see if you're cut out for this profession!

The Subject of a Recording Matters!

Working with many recordings daily, scribes need to be skilled typists. Since the projects they work on have strict deadlines, scribes must be able to complete their tasks on time! That said, their success does depend on how fast they type. But, exactly how fast does a transcriptionist need to type?

A transcriptionist's typing speed is measured in either words or keystrokes per minute. On average, good scribes type 40-60 WPM, with the more experienced of them capable of scribing more than 80 words in 60 seconds! Court reporters and real-time transcriptionists are the fastest - they can type over 100 WPM!

With the turnaround time for most projects being 24 hours, scribes must type fast. 15-minute audios take approximately an hour to transcribe. That said, professionals with a typing speed of 50-60 WPM can transcribe hour-long recordings in 6-8 hours. But technical terms, difficult names and surnames, and other details might prolong the process.

It Gets Tougher When More Speakers Are Involved! 

Transcribing the conversations of multiple speakers can be pretty challenging. For example, audio recordings of larger focus groups can be hard to work on because it is tougher to distinguish which person is talking! Furthermore, people often tend to talk over one another, which makes understanding their conversations really tricky!

With people talking simultaneously, it's no wonder that audios with three or more speakers take longer to transcribe than those of a person or two speaking. It's sometimes easier to transcribe a one-on-one interview than a conversation between 3+ persons! One can't tell how difficult it'll be to transcribe a recording simply by its length!

Also, distinguishing between similar voices is not the easiest job out there. Audios of multiple conversation participants are harder to transcribe because of this reason as well; figuring out who said what can be complicated at times! Apart from that, scribes need to record everyone's time of speaking, a task that requires excellent hearing abilities!

Some Accents Are Tough to Understand!

Out of 540 million people speaking English worldwide, 170 million are not native speakers of this language. What this means is that, no matter how fluent they are in the tongue, they speak it with an accent! Needless to say, a person's way of speaking can make it challenging for scribes to transcribe.

While the conversations of native English speakers are easier to understand, those of foreign ones are sometimes puzzling for scribes. That said, experienced professionals must be familiar with different accents! One can have superb proficiency in the language, but if they can't comprehend someone's speech because of an accent, they'll struggle as transcribers!

Although it might take more time to transcribe recordings of people with heavy accents, it's not an impossible thing to do. With some time and effort, one can learn to understand what folks with thicker accents are saying! Still, the challenge is there, and it makes transcription the profession of dedicated persons.

Audio Quality Is Super Important!

With many news-worthy events happening all in the open air, journalists and news reporters usually do their interviews outdoors. This means that their audios will have at least some background noise! Although these unwanted sounds are sometimes impossible to avoid, experienced scribes must find a way around them.

On the other hand, some recordings are made in buildings that can generate an echo. For example, when a priest preaches from the pulpit, their sermon can echo around the entire church! This can make it difficult for scribes to understand the preacher's words and prolong the time they need to transcribe a file.

While using microphones for recording conversations would make things easier for these professionals, doing that is not always an option. Sometimes people don't have much choice but to record with their phones, for example! Still, the quality of these kinds of recordings is low, and transcribing them takes great experience.

The More Experience a Transcriptionist Has, the Better!

Experienced scribes don't just type - they're people who have been transcribing long enough to understand the characteristics of their profession. Great transcribers are quick to crack a speaker's style or figure out what words someone likes to use! If a transcriber can't do all that, they won't be very good at their job!

Clients like working with transcription companies that can provide them with accurate, well-formatted transcripts. That said, a customer will decide whether they should continue to get their audios transcribed by the same company once they get their first transcript! The first impression is very important, and experienced transcribers know that!

Of course, you can't become experienced in something if you don't dedicate yourself to it. Although Rome wasn't built in a day, people wanted to see impressive architectures embellish their surroundings, and, with lots of effort, they did build it! Therefore, if you're interested in transcribing, try it; maybe it's the right job for you!

How to Be Faster at Typing?

Every great scribe was once a newbie who needed good tips on how to become better and faster at their job. If you, too, are an aspiring transcriptionist, here's what you should do to transcribe fast:

  • Transcribe audios on a device that's fast and has enough memory to not struggle while working.

  • Practice transcribing to improve your typing speed, and watch tutorials on how to type faster.

  • Use audio playback software to play, pause, skip, forward, and speed up or slow down the file.

  • Get a foot pedal to be able to pause and rewind the audio while typing.

  • If you're the one making a recording, ensure it's clear.

  • While transcribing, stay away from your phone, PC, and other distractions.

  • Work with topics you're familiar with to avoid transcribing an audio for too long.

  • Have your research notes and list of commonly used terms next to you while transcribing.

  • Learn how to do research quickly.

  • Use the Autotext, Autocomplete, and other advanced features in Word to type faster.

  • Consider using text expanders to type entire phrases instead of words.

  • For a smoother workflow, slow down or speed up the audio you're transcribing.

  • Create templates for specific types of audio recordings to avoid wasting time on formatting.