Create professional transcriptions from your audio with Microsoft Word

Looking for an easy way to transcribe audio? Here’s how to turn interviews into fully marked-up transcripts in Microsoft Word.

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      Word for the web, a component of Microsoft Office 365, can record speech and transcribe it automatically. Not to be confused with the application’s Dictate feature, which displays text as users speak, Transcribe operates in the background and incorporates speaker and time markers.

      The Transcribe feature in Word 365 enables users to record in-person or virtual conversations and automatically generate a transcript of the dialogue. What is more, you can use Word to make your own notes at the same time. You can even upload and transcribe existing recordings.

      Five requirements when using Transcribe in Word

      Before we begin, here are a few important points to bear in mind:

      1. The Transcribe feature requires an internet connection to function.
      2. Transcribe only works on the latest (at the time of writing) version of Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.
      3. You can transcribe up to a maximum of five hours of speech per month.
      4. You can only store one transcript in the document’s Transcript pane. Creating a new transcript will delete the existing one (though any parts of the transcript that have been imported into the actual document will remain).
      5. Transcribe works with the language you have set up as your editing language in Office (at the time of writing, only US English is supported, but more languages are expected to be added).

      Transcribe live speech in Word

      Whether the people involved in the conversation are all sitting together by the computer or have dialled in via videoconferencing software, Word is ready to record and transcribe. Here’s how.

      1. Sign into Microsoft Office 365, using Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.
      2. Go to Home > Dictate dropdown > Transcribe.
      3. In the Transcribe pane, select Start recording.
        • If it’s your first time, you might need to give the browser permission to use your microphone. (NB: Don’t plug in your headset if you want to record and transcribe a virtual call; instead, let Transcribe record the sound coming out of your device).
        • You’ll know that recording has started when the Pause icon is outlined in solid blue and the Timestamp digits begin counting.
      4. Start speaking.
        • The clearer the speech, the more accurate the transcription will be.
        • Leave the Transcribe pane open while recording.
      5. The recording can be paused by clicking the Pause icon and resumed by selecting the Microphone icon.
      6. To end the recording, select  Save and transcribe now. This commences the transcription process.
        • Leave the Transcribe pane open while transcription takes place.
        • You can perform other tasks within Word, the browser, or other applications while transcription takes place.
        • The recording will be stored in the Transcribed Files folder on OneDrive.

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      Transcribe an existing audio file in Word

      As well as making recordings ‘live’, you can upload and transcribe pre-recorded audio files. Here’s how.

      1. Sign into Microsoft Office 365, using Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.
      2. Go to Home > Dictate dropdown > Transcribe.
      3. In the Transcribe pane, select Upload audio.
      4. Select the desired audio file from the file selection box and transcription will commence.
        • Transcribe currently supports .wav, .mp4, .m4a, .mp3 formats.
        • Leave the Transcribe pane open while the file is being transcribed.
        • You can perform other tasks within Word, the browser, or other applications while transcription takes place.
        • The recording will be stored in the Transcribed Files folder on OneDrive.

      Add the transcribed file to a document

      Transcribe in Word doesn’t automatically incorporate the audio or text into the open document. However, it is automatically associated with the document and accessible via the Transcribe pane. This means that if you close the pane, for example, the transcript data will still be accessible from the document when you open it next time.

      To work with the transcript as a normal text document, open the Transcribe pane, then:

      • To add the entire transcript: select Add all to document.
      • To add a section of the transcript: hover over the section you want to insert and select Add section to document.
      • To delete the transcript or create a new one: select New transcription.

      Edit the transcript

      You can also edit your transcribed file within the Transcribe pane. For instance, you might wish to amend the text or change the names of the speakers (initially, different speakers are identified and labelled as ‘Speaker 1’, ‘Speaker 2’, etc. These can be renamed afterwards).

      1. In the Transcribe pane, hover over a section you want to edit.
      2. Select the Edit transcript section icon.
      3. Edit the content or change the label. To change all instances of a label, select Change all Speaker [x].
      4. To save your changes, select the Confirm icon.

      Listen to the audio recording

      In addition to the transcription text, Word’s Transcribe feature also stores the audio recording in OneDrive’s Transcribed Files folder. To play back the audio, use the controls at the top of the Transcribe pane. The corresponding section in the transcript will highlight as the audio plays.

      • To play a specific section of audio, select the relevant timestamp on the transcript.
      • Playback speed can be increased by up to 200%.

      Make Word’s automatic transcription tool work for you

      The Transcribe feature in Microsoft Office 365’s Word application not only provides an effortless way to create transcriptions, it lets you edit, store and share the professionally marked-up text with ease.

      So, the next time you plan to record a conversation, interview or meeting so you can write it up later, why not let Microsoft Word do the writing up for you?

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