Transcription examples. Which style works for you?

Choose between verbatim, intelligent, edited and phonetic transcription with these helpful examples and explanations.

Contents
    Contents

      Transcription is used across a wide variety of sectors – from marketing to healthcare, law to academia – with each application having its own required outcome. As a result, there are several styles of transcription available, each providing transcription with a different focus.

      These styles of transcription can be grouped into four basic categories:
      1. Verbatim
      2. Intelligent verbatim
      3. Edited
      4. Phonetic

      Here we explain each of these forms of transcription with the help of examples.

      Example of verbatim transcription

      A verbatim transcription captures every sound made, such as throat clearing, laughter, verbal pauses (uh, ah, mm, er), doors slamming and phones ringing. This level of detail can be essential when every utterance and interference is needed to convey the full context of a situation, such as in a police interview.

      Here is an example of a verbatim transcription.

      AB=Alice Birch
      CD=Colin Dexter

      [Begin transcript 00:00:05]

      AB: OK, let’s get started… What is your name?

      [Sound of chairs scraping on floor]

      CD: My name? Colin Dexter.
      AB: So… Let’s see… [Sound of shuffling papers]
      AB: Can you confirm whereabouts you were born and raised?
      CD: Oz. Aussie. Australia. Melbourne, Australia.
      AB: So… What brought you to the UK?
      CD: Um-hm, well... I was offered a job and I thought… Well… [Shrugs]. Why not? [Raises right hand and rubs forefinger and thumb together to indicate money]
      AB: It was a well-paid job, was it… this job that lured you to the UK?
      CD: Yes. Well, y’know, much better than what I was earning before, anyway. [Laughs loudly]

      [End transcript 00:02:32]

      Example of intelligent verbatim transcription

      If the background noises, verbal pauses, rambling repetition, coughs etc. are not relevant for the purposes of the transcription, these elements can be removed to create an intelligent verbatim transcription. This creates a more concise and readable transcript, while staying true to the intended meaning of the content.

      This kind of transcription is more suited to situations such as a business interview, where details of coughs and doors slamming are irrelevant.

      Here is the same example as above, but written as an intelligent verbatim translation.

      AB=Alice Birch
      CD=Colin Dexter

      [Begin transcript 00:00:05]

      AB: OK, let’s get started… What is your name?
      CD: My name? Colin Dexter.
      AB: Can you confirm where you were born and raised?
      CD: Australia. Melbourne, Australia.
      AB: What brought you to the UK?
      CD: I was offered a job and I thought, why not? [Raises right hand and rubs forefinger and thumb together to indicate money]
      AB: It was a well-paid job that lured you to the UK?
      CD: Yes. Well, much better than what I was earning before.

      [End transcript 00:02:32]

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      Example of edited transcription

      An edited transcription takes the intelligent verbatim transcription a step further by removing any superfluous content, amending any grammatical mistakes, clarifying slang terms and completing any unfinished sentences. An edited transcription can appear more formal than the original content, but it will be clearer to read and easier to understand.

      Of course, being more readable and understandable does not always make an edited transcription appropriate. For instance, here are two example transcripts of a journalist interviewing a rock star.

      Verbatim transcription:

      So, I grab my axe, hook up to the Marshal stack, an’ ramp it all the way up to 11. The crowd didn’t know what hit ‘em. I really made their ears bleed, man. [laughs raucously]

      Edited transcription:

      I picked up my guitar, plugged it into the amplifier and turned it up to maximum volume. The audience were surprised and I damaged their hearing.

      As you can see, much of the nuance can be lost with an edited transcript. When used for the previous example, however, an edited transcript makes the key facts stand out unambiguously.

      AB=Alice Birch
      CD=Colin Dexter

      [Begin transcript 00:00:05]

      AB: What is your name?
      CD: Colin Dexter.
      AB: Where were you born and raised?
      CD: Melbourne, Australia.
      AB: Why did you come to the UK?
      CD: I was offered employment with higher remuneration that I was currently earning.

      [End transcript 00:02:32]

      Example of phonetic transcription

      Phonetic transcription records the way spoken words are pronounced, rather than how they are written. This is accomplished using symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), an agreed system of written marks that identify distinct units of sound in all languages.

      A phonetic transcription is useful when pronunciation is important – such as when comparing speech between different age groups, locations or periods of time. So, if you wish to specify the ‘way’ something should be said, rather than simply ‘what’ should be said, use phonetic transcription.

      Using the IPA, the first line of the example transcription:

      AB: What is your name?

      would look like this:

      AB: Wɒt ɪz jə neɪm?

      Which type of transcription should I use?

      Each type of transcription serves a distinct purpose, and this purpose determines which type of transcription is most suited to the task. For example:

      • Verbatim transcription would be useful for post-production in the film industry, as each pause, cough and laugh is as important as the words being spoken.
      • Intelligent verbatim would be useful for transcribing medical case notes, where details are important, but not the extraneous noises.
      • People in the Human Resources (HR) sector might use edited transcription when collating answers provided by job applicants in interviews, as it allows them to identify the substance of an answer with minimal effort.
      • A speech therapist wishing to detail precisely how a patient speaks will find phonetic translation essential.

      Whatever your reason for wanting to convert speech to text, we’ll help you find the ideal form of transcription for you.