How to Format a Transcript: Everything There is to Know About Transcription and Formatting

10 November 2021
GoTranscript Blog How to Format a Transcript: Everything There is to ...

So, you’ve created and edited your transcript. It’s now time to format it. Formatting a transcript can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. You may feel like there are so many things to do and so many instructions to follow. Not to worry, though. We’re here to walk with you every step of the way.

When formatting a transcript, your goal should be to have a final draft that’s readable, easy to follow, and fitting to your needs. In this guide, we will go over how to format a transcript. We will cover transcript formats and other formatting elements like timestamps, speaker labels, and paragraphing. 

The Ultimate Guide for Formatting a Transcript

Before you get into the formatting process, think about the transcript format or style you want to follow. The two widely used text formats in transcription are full verbatim and clean verbatim. If you are transcribing in full verbatim, ensure the content in your transcript is a replica of the words and sounds uttered in the audio or video file. Full verbatim contains false starts, speech errors, and filler words like “kind of” and “you know.” It also includes slang language and repetitions in speech.

Clean verbatim is written in the Standard English language. It does not include false starts, repetitions, stutters, slang, and filler words. When formatting the transcript, stick to the transcript format that you are following.  

Formatting Elements to Consider

The other elements that you need to consider when formatting the transcript include:  

  • Font type and size
  • Paragraph length and headings
  • Speaker labels
  • Timestamps
  • Inaudible and crosstalk tags 
  • English spelling 
  • Sounds
  • Capitalization 

Let’s dive into the elements one by one.  

Font Type and Size

If you are transcribing in a Word document, change the font type and size to ensure the transcript is readable. You can use Times New Roman or Calibri, which are the most common fonts. For the size, you can adjust to 11 or 12 points. 

Paragraph Length and Headings  

Add a title and subheadings to your transcript. If a speech is long, break it into paragraphs of 400 to 500 characters each. Don’t indent the paragraphs. 

Speaker Labels

Speaker labels are the terms you use to identity speakers in the video or audio file. When labeling a speaker, use their name, role, or a generic label such as “S1” or “Speaker 1”. Only use generic labels if you can’t identify a speaker or their role. A good tip would be to listen to the audio before transcribing so you get an idea of the speakers and their roles. It’s best to write the speaker label in bold. You can format the speaker labels using your company’s guidelines or employ this format.

Type the speaker label followed by a colon followed by a space and text. For example: 

Jane: Hello.

Speaker 1: Hello, Jane.

Interviewer: Hello. 

Time Stamps

Time stamping enables the reader to identify parts in the video or audio that correlate with specific sections in the transcript. This formatting element is helpful in research interviews like market research and focus groups. There are two accepted ways to insert a timestamp in transcription.  

1. Insert the time timestamp at regular intervals, for example, after every one or two minutes. Like this: 

  • Mark: This is [1:00] a sentence.
  • Jane: This is [2:00] another sentence.  

2. Insert at the start of a paragraph or every time another speaker talks. For example:

[02:20] Jane: This is a sentence.

[02:47] Will: This is another sentence. 

Inaudible and Crosstalk Tags

Insert an inaudible tag where you can’t hear the speaker’s words and a crosstalk tag where two people speak simultaneously. Mark out the inaudible and crosstalk tags with a timestamp. For example, [inaudible 01:28] and [crosstalk 01:49].  

English Spelling

If you are writing in American English, use US spelling. And if you are writing in British English, use UK spelling.  

Sounds  

Annotate background sounds such as a door closing and any other non-speech elements with square brackets. For example, [door closing]. 

Capitalization  

For capitalization, use the standard grammar capitalization rules. Capitalize the first letter in names, places, companies, and job titles.  

Or Leave It to the Pros

Now that you know how to format a transcript, you are one step closer to being a professional transcriptionist. Don’t forget to give your transcript one last read to ensure every word, tag, timestamp, or speaker label is where it’s supposed to be.

Transcription can be time-consuming, even for the best of the best. Why not let GoTranscript do the heavy lifting while you spend your precious time on other tasks? With 16 years of experience and over 145 million minutes transcribed, we offer 99% accuracy and a 100% satisfaction guarantee!