What Is Transcription?
7 September 2022

What Is Transcription?

Transcription is the process in which an audio file or speech is converted into writing. The listener has to write the content of the audio file verbatim and use the same language that was used by the speaker. 

The word transcribe is from the Latin verb ‘transcribere’ which is a compound word consisting of the words ‘trans’ and ‘scribere’ which means ‘over’ and’ write’. Its synonym is ‘writing out’ or ‘typing out’. 

Transcribing might seem simple, but it’s actually a process that needs both writing and listening skills. There are also different guidelines to follow to ensure you’re doing the right kind of transcription. 

What are the different kinds of transcriptions?

There are many kinds of transcription services, and each one of them has its own purpose. Let’s look at the three primary kinds of transcription: verbatim, edited, and intelligent transcriptions.  

Verbatim transcriptions

Verbatim transcriptions are transcriptions where the transcriptionist listens to video or audio files while writing down verbatim the language they hear. It captures both verbal and non-verbal parts of the audio. 

Verbatim transcriptions contain everything from the background noise, speaker’s fillers, and stammers to changes in tone and emotion—basically all transcribable speech from the audio file. Compared to other kinds of transcriptions, this is the most complicated task because of the time and effort it will take to transcribe everything in the final output. 

Verbatim transcriptions are very reliable tools for qualitative research where tone and emotion are important. They are often used in court hearings, job interviews, psych assessments, and police investigations. 

Edited transcriptions 

Edited transcriptions, also called ‘clean transcription’ are transcriptions where there are omitted parts of the audio or video file. It may be summarized, polished, or cut short to improve quality. Despite this being done, the value or meaning of the audio is not altered. 

This kind of transcription focuses on delivering a quality output. It only includes important sentences or phrases and omits all unnecessary, excessive, or grammatically incorrect. Edited transcriptions often result in formal types of writing. The result is often content that is readable, appealing, and relevant to the reader to whom the document is transcribed. Edited transcriptions can often be found in seminars, speeches, and conferences.

Intelligent transcriptions  

Intelligent transcriptions are transcriptions where the listener doesn’t include half-sentences or inaudible speech found in the audio file. 

So how are they different from edited transcriptions. Well, compared to edited transcriptions, intelligent transcriptions focus on quality editing and accuracy. The transcriptions remove fillers, pauses, repetitions, and expressions of acknowledgment from the transcribed document. 

Intelligent transcriptions remove stammers, slang, and non-standard language. Its main goal is to eliminate things that are irrelevant to the discussion. It captures the gist of the speaker’s message while excluding the emotional component. 

Final products of intelligent transcriptions are often high-quality and accurately represent the essence of the original content. These kinds of transcriptions are often used in business communications.

Difference Between Transcription and Translation 

Transcription and translation are often confused as the same word because they ‘look’ and ‘sound’ similar. However, they are not the same. While both are related and are often used together, they have their own important differences. 

Translation essentially means representing the meaning of a source-language text in a target language. For example, if you’re translating, the Japanese word “daijobou” would be “OK” in English. 

Despite their differences, both also have similarities. First, they have the same goal: to make content more readable and accessible for everyone. Second, both transcription and translation are important for good communication. 

Where are transcriptions often used?

Today, with the rise of the internet and Google, the primary use of transcription is for creating a searchable document. If you have a 1-hour long video, you’d want to transform it into searchable written content that would allow your audience to find it if you share it online. 

This applies most in television, radio networks, journalism, and academia where interviews are often turned into documents so that they can be cited in articles. 

They are also needed in medical and legal industries when doctors or patients need information in writing for easier retrieval. Transcription is also applicable in court where transcripts of witness statements are needed for later use. 

Transcription in Business 

Transcription is mainly used in business industries. In the office setting, it is used to transcribe meetings to allow the team or company to have a written record of everything that has been discussed. 

When it’s used for customer conservation, its primary goal is to take a closer look at customer behavior as well as purchasing habits. It benefits the business by improving its customer retention and adaptability strategies, resulting in better branding and marketing. 

Another way transcription can be used in businesses is through market research. By keeping records of important customer feedback, business owners will get a better idea of how they can sell and advertise their products. 

When Do You Hire a Transcription Service? 

Transcription services are useful tools for helping individuals, brands, and companies save time and money. Transcribing can be a lot of work. Deciding if you should do it yourself or outsource should be based on important factors like your time, budget, and transcribing skills. Today, transcription services are used for a lot of things. But here’s a quick example: 

Imagine that you’re a researcher and you’ve just finished a dozen interviews with university students in your area. Your deadline is nearing soon and you need to analyze all the interviews to come up with a good analysis. For this, you may want to hire a transcription service to give you the written version of all the interviews. If you have the word for word copy of all the interviews, it’s easier for you to analyze data and gather insights quickly for your paper.

Transcription services can also be important for businesses and individuals who own large audio file libraries. Perhaps you own a podcast or a youtube channel and you want to transform your content into written articles. You can use a transcription service to do that. Instead of doing all that work by yourself, you can outsource it and save time and energy. Transcriptionists can convert your content to written format very quickly! 

What are the benefits of transcription?

  1. Accuracy 

It’s pretty normal to miss some parts of a video or podcast, we’re just human anyways. We don’t have 100% accuracy like a machine does. But, if you really want to catch every detail of content, you should try reading transcriptions. Transcriptions eliminate the need to replay and backtrack audio or video. In movies, transcribed subtitles help you focus and gain the best understanding of the dialogue and plot! 

  1. Accessibility 

Transcripts are primarily important for deaf or hearing-impaired individuals to be able to access media. Using transcripts, they can experience the acoustic and verbal aspects of content. In summary, transcripts make content accessible to everyone. If a person is bad at understanding digital recordings, transcriptions will come in handy. 

  1. Spend more time on work that matters

If you have someone transcribe your interviews, audio content, or lectures, you can save a significant amount of time to do more work or analysis. Saving yourself the effort and time to do the tedious, and time-consuming transcribing work will certainly improve your productivity. 

  1. User Experience 

Transcripts provide another way for your audience to interact with your content. If you have searchable content in the form of writing, users will spend more time on your website. 

  1. Learning Aid

In Academics, transcriptions are used as a study aid to help students understand their coursework better. In fact, a research study by Oregon State University reveals that 81% of their students actually use transcripts to learn their subjects better. 

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Unlike articles or blogs, the audios found in podcasts or video files aren’t searchable. If there’s a treasure trove of ideas in that content, then you’re potentially missing out on an audience that would like to hear it! Search engine bots can’t index video or audio content, that’s why transcripts are so important if you want to improve your SEO. By transcribing your video or audio and making them searchable on your site, your website will be able to rank better. 

How To Transcribe Like a Pro

In business, translation and transcription is a huge industry where professionals can earn money from possessing both skills. If you wish to become a transcriptionist, here’s a guide to help you get started with your first transcription task. 

  1. Have proper equipment

Just like any job, transcriptionists need to have these things to successfully do their job. First, you’ll need good headphones (better, if you have noise-canceling ones), next is a 

  1. Identify the purpose of your transcription

What field is the content you have to translate? Do you need an accurate, word-for-word conversion or a simple and polished version? 

  1. Use the autocorrect tool 

When you’re transcribing, every second is important. Going back to correct your words will make you lose minutes worth of work. That’s why good transcriptionists use the right autocorrect tools. There are many good autocorrect tools nowadays, you just need to find one that works with your writing software. 

  1. Practice typing to perfection 

Do you want to get good at transcribing? Then, practice your typing to be more accurate and fast. Typing speed is incredibly important in transcription jobs. The more effective you are at typing, the better you can transcribe words as you hear them. If you want to get better, there are many typing games and applications that can help. 

  1. Use noise cancellation headsets 

Another tip you can do to improve your transcribing skill is to improve the quality of your headsets. Bad sound quality can affect how you hear the audio. If your headsets have a lot of feedback or you write in a noisy environment, you’ll certainly have a hard time transcribing. 

  1. Don’t forget to take breaks

Transcribing is 90% writing and 10% listening. You’ll be fixed on your computer screen for hours if you need to do hours and hours of transcribing work. To keep you motivated and your mental energy at peak at all times, recharge by giving yourself breaks every after one or two hours of working. Trying to stretch yourself by working too much will result in burnout.