How long does transcription take? Write better transcriptions, faster

How long does transcription take? Not as long as you think, with the right tools and expert know-how.


      Transcription is the process of transforming spoken words into written text. More specifically, it creates highly reusable text that is beneficial for business and research. From enabling editors to mark-up and comment on written content to enhancing website videos with search-engine-friendly text, transforming speeches and meetings into tangible documents to increasing accessibility for people with hearing difficulties, transcription opens up a world of possibilities that can transform your content marketing strategy.

      Full audio and video transcription solutions

      Formatting and how to mark time in transcription

      There’s more to creating a transcript than basic dictation – and this is where the added time and value come in. To create an effective transcription, a number of procedures must be followed. Here’s a general outline of how to create a professional transcription that is faithful to the original audio or video content:

      1. Make sure that you have a clear audio or video recording of the content you want to transcribe.
      2. As you transcribe, use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation to ensure that your transcription is accurate and easy to read.
      3. Annotate with important details, such as tags to identify who and when a person is speaking (the significance of a lengthy pause can be lost in a transcription that does not include time indicators). Similarly, you should identify inaudible sections that result from unclear speech, background noise or crosstalk, for example, as well as any incidental noises, such as applause, traffic and doors closing.
      4. After completing your transcription, proofread it thoroughly and compare it against the original audio or video content to ensure that it is complete and accurate.

      As mentioned above, aligning a transcription to the original recording is essential. This is accomplished by inserting timestamp tags at specific intervals. There are different ways to use timestamps, depending on the purpose of the transcription.

      Download our free transcription template

      Get started with transcription. Here you will find templates for both detailed transcription and standard transcription. You can use the formats and examples in your own working document.

      Start-end timestamps

      When only a specific part of a discussion is being viewed, or when the dialogue occurs within a larger timeframe, it is useful to apply timestamps at the beginning and end of the spoken segment.

      [07:09] John Smith: Good morning. Thank you for joining me.

      {main body of dialogue}

      John Smith: That concludes the meeting. Thanks everyone! [34:10]

      Periodic timestamps

      Placing time indicators at regular intervals, such as every 15 seconds or 10 minutes, gives the reader a more accurate insight into the progress of a spoken segment. Here is an example using a timestamp with a 15-second interval.

      [00:00] John Smith: Good morning. Thank you for joining me. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to exploring some of the big issues currently facing the business. [00:15] Before we get started, please can you all mute your microphones to avoid any unwanted background noise or slurping of [00:30] coffee [laughter]. Also, so we don’t end up talking over each other – which no one will be able to hear – I think it’s best if you raise [00:45] your hand if you want to speak.

      Change-of-speaker timestamps

      Inserting a timestamp every time the person speaking changes makes it easier to locate and synchronise specific segments of a recording.

      [00:05] John Smith: Where do these problems originate?

      [00:08] Mary White: Customer service. The team are doing a great job, it’s just... er, since the introduction of the new software, it’s...

      [00:15] Sophia Barnes: They need time to learn the new system.

      [00:17] Mary White: Yes, that’s it. At the moment they are learning on the job, which can result in delays.

      Granular timestamps

      Timestamps at the beginning of every sentence, or even more frequently, are required when precision is paramount. Although this can look cluttered on the page, it is an invaluable tool for video editors, for example.

      John Smith: [01:12] So, we could schedule a half-day workshop. [Pause] [01:16] I’ll have a word with IT.

      Mary White: [01:18] Is it something they could do online? [01:20] That way, more of the Customer Service team will be able to attend. [01:22] And if we can record it, we could use it for onboarding new recruits.

      How long to transcribe one hour of audio

      To estimate timings for transcription, you need to understand everything that will affect the transcription process. This can include:

      • The speed at which you type
      • The transcription tools you have available
      • The length of the recording
      • The quality of the audio
      • The number of speakers and complexity of the dialogue
      • The level of detail required

      Saying exactly how long it takes to transcribe one hour of audio is therefore impossible. However, as a very broad guide, it takes approximately four hours to transcribe one hour of audio.

      A one-off transcription can be more time-consuming than regular transcription, where tools can be used to expedite the process. A journalist or blogger, for example, wishing to estimate how long it takes to transcribe an interview, can reduce the time by investing in transcription tools.

      Tools that make transcription faster

      To create an accurate transcript, it’s essential to have the right tools for the job. At a minimum, you’ll need a computer with a word processor and audio player. However, using headphones is preferable to speakers as they help you focus and pick up more details while cancelling out typing noise. While optional, transcription software can significantly improve the process. You can type and control the audio within the same interface, which saves time compared to switching between applications. If you plan to transcribe frequently, investing in better software and a foot pedal can further streamline the process.

      When selecting a computer, a solid keyboard and comfortable setup are helpful as you’ll be typing for at least three to four times the length of the recording. High quality headphones with noise isolating capabilities are also essential to pick out little details in the audio. The lead length should be long enough to move around easily, and it’s best to plug in the headphones directly for better audio quality than using Bluetooth.

      Overall, using the right tools can make a significant difference to the accuracy and efficiency of your transcription projects.

      Read more: What are the best transcription apps and tools?

      AI tools for speech-to-text and transcription

      If transcription – even with the best tools for the job – still seems like too much time-consuming effort, you might want to consider artificial intelligence (AI) speech-to-text transcription software.

      AI transcription technology records conversations and transforms the audio file into text, without requiring human intervention. The software may also include additional features such as the ability to identify multiple speakers and add timestamps automatically.

      The specific capabilities of the software will vary depending on the technology being used. There is a wide range of AI transcription tools available, with options ranging from free (such as Auris AI) to paid versions (such as Speak AI).

      Profit from our transcription technology

      At Semantix, we offer clients the best of all worlds with a broad range of professional human and AI transcription services. Our cutting-edge technology and extensive experience in this specialised field ensure that we deliver exceptional results without compromising on budget or time limitations. Contact us now to maximise the value of your audio and video recordings with our expert transcription services.

      Would you like to order a transcription?

      Download our free transcription template

      Download templates for both detailed transcription and standard transcription. You can use the formats and examples in your own working document.