What is Transcription?

Posted on 9th January 2020 • Categories: General, Transcription

What is Transcription? 

Transcription is the process of converting an audio or video recording into a text format, usually into a Microsoft Word document.  Audio files include MP3, MP4, WAV & FLAC but there are many others. There are different types of transcription software available, but I prefer to use Express Scribe and Olympus.  Express Scribe allows cleaning up of poor quality recordings.

What Does a Transcriptionist Do?

A transcriptionist is a documentation specialist who listens to voice recordings through a quality set of headphones and converts them into a written format using a foot pedal to play, stop, rewind and fast forward. A professional transcriptionist transcribes your audio recordings by paying attention to the number of people speaking, the clarity of the recording including background noise, and the clarity of the speaking voices including accents and mumbling.

How Long Does it Take to Transcribe One Hour of Audio?

Generally it takes one hour to transcribe 15 minutes of clearly recorded speech. Therefore, it takes a minimum of 4 hours to transcribe a one-hour recording, depending on the quality of the recording, the speed at which the people are talking and above all, the experience of the transcriptionist.

Why Use a Transcriptionist & Not Voice Recognition Software?

There’s different types of voice recognition software available on the market, where you talk and the software converts your speech into text. But this isn’t always suitable because it doesn’t recognise different tones, therefore it struggles to distinguish between different speakers. There are a lot of delays when it struggles to recognise unusual words, it make errors with grammar, it takes up a lot of memory and the software has specific hardware requirements.

There are numerous instances where having a human is vital to ensure a meaningful transcript is produced.  These include:

  • Multi-speaker transcription with lots of over-speaking/interruptions, with anything from 2 to 15 speakers,  which only a human brain can work through;
  • Poor quality recordings including background noise, strong accents, interference, muttering and mumbling, pen tapping and rustling paper;
  • Similar sounding words, spelled differently can produce the wrong meaning;
  • There is more than often, the requirement for extensive formatting as well as producing the spoken text.

Who Uses Transcriptionists?

Companies and professionals in many industries use transcriptionists, including:

  • Legal
  • Conveyancing
  • Academic
  • Medical
  • Law
  • Marketing Companies
  • Media
  • Insurance
  • Market Research
  • Government
  • Religious

What Are The Different Types of Transcription Work?

Transcriptionists usually specialise in one or more of the following areas: –

  • Legal Transcriptionists transcribe a range of material for legal professionals, including court hearings, police under caution interviews and general correspondence;
  • Medical Transcriptionists transcribe medical reports, general correspondence and doctor & patient family meetings;
  • Conveyancing Transcriptionists transcribe a wide range of property reports and general correspondence;
  • Media Transcriptionists transcribe  radio interviews, podcasts, and videos including the use of time stamping;
  • Academic Transcriptionists support students in transcribing essays and interviews;
  • General Transcriptionists have wider knowledge and experience and can therefore transcribe all or most of the above.

How Do I Get My Recording Across To The Transcriptionist?

Once upon a time, transcriptionists used to transcribe from dictation machines using mini cassettes.  The downside of using these was that you could easily wipe the recording if you pressed the wrong button and there was no getting it back!

Nowadays, transcriptionists work primarily with digital audio and video. They transfer digital files using a variety of methods, including email, WeTransfer, Dropbox, Google Drive, or client website uploaders.

At Midlands Transcription Services we have an Easy File Uploader installed on the website.  This is my preferred option when transcribing for clients, as it uses the same level of SSL security as many large online retailers, keeping your personal details and files safe when you send them to us via our website. Your files are encrypted and sent directly to a Secure Server. After this, they can only be accessed directly from a secure administration area for a limited time.

What Will My Transcript Look Like?

Transcriptionists often use their own specific document templates for their clients, but you can also provide them with your own template for them to use.  Most transcriptionists will be more than happy to accommodate your own template.

Transcription Types and Formats

Transcription means converting audio recorded transcription dictation to text format. There are 3 types of transcription format which can be used – Verbatim, Intelligent Verbatim and Edited Verbatim.  If you are unsure of which type of format you need, I’ve listed three short examples below.  Be sure to tell your transcriptionist which one you require as this will make a difference to the cost.

Verbatim (Exactly as it sounds, including every sigh and pause):-

Erm … well, [sigh] I dunno really, know what I mean? [long pause]. I mean, you know, when I asked them what David’s, err, um, condish, condit, condition was, they said like erm ‘I’m afraid we can’t, erm, tell you that, Mrs Jones, ’cause you ain’t a relative.

Intelligent Verbatim (Exactly as it sounds, but excluding sighs and pauses):-

Well, I dunno really. I mean when I asked them what David’s condition was, they said ‘I’m afraid we can’t tell you that, Mrs Jones, ’cause you ain’t a relative.

Edited Verbatim: (Replacing slang words and excluding sighs and pauses):-

Well I don’t know really. I mean when I asked them what David’s condition was, they said ‘I’m afraid we can’t tell you that, Mrs Jones, because you are not a relative.

Asking Questions?

Always ask your transcriptionist any questions you may have.  The more you ask, the better it is for them to understand your requirements.  A reputable transcription service will be happy to answer any questions you ask them.  Be sure to ask for a written quote and a copy of their Terms of Business.  These will normally be available on their website.