What is transcription? Get answers to 15 essential questions.

Puzzled by transcription and the many ways of transcribing? Here are 15 of the most asked questions along with clear, concise answers.

What is transcription? What is transcription?

      ‘What is transcription?’ is a familiar question emanating from across all industries, business and service sectors. Then there are the more specific enquiries, such as: ‘What is verbatim transcription?’; ‘What is legal transcription?’; and ‘What are transcription services?’.

      Questions, questions, questions… Here are some answers.

      1. What is transcription?

      The Oxford English Dictionary defines transcription as: ​A written or printed copy of words that have been spoken.

      Deriving from the Latin ‘trans’, meaning ‘across’ and ‘scribere’ meaning ‘write’, the word ‘transcription’ is often confused with other, similar-sounding words. ‘Transliteration’, for example, which describes the process of changing text from one alphabet to similar-sounding characters from another alphabet, or ‘translate’, which means to express the meaning of spoken or written words in another language. In simple terms, transcription can be thought of as the conversion of spoken words to written text.

      2. Why transcribe audio to text?

      For most of the past 100,000 years, human communication has been dominated by the spoken word. In the modern era of screen-based digital devices, however, visual communication has come to the forefront. As a result, there are huge potential rewards from converting audio recordings of speech to visual text.

      There are many ways transcription can benefit you and your business, depending on the nature of your work. For example, strategically deployed transcription can accelerate workflow, boost SEO and search discoverability of your audio and visual content, increase social shares, expand accessibility, enable searchability, enhance collaboration and improve record keeping… In short, transcription removes the burden of unreliable memory and ineffective note-taking, and allows every detail of an interview or any other form of speech to be captured forever in a highly versatile format.

      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.

      3. What is verbatim transcription?

      A verbatim transcription documents every sound and silence that occurs. This means that, as well as speech, verbatim transcription indicates every pause, repetition, phone ringing, door slamming, cough, interruption and every er… um… yeah… you know.

      4. What is intelligent verbatim transcription?

      An intelligent verbatim transcription ignores the non-speech elements of the transcription, but still documents what was said exactly as it was spoken.

      5. What is edited transcription?

      An edited transcription is a version of intelligent verbatim transcription, with any grammatical mistakes or unfinished sentences ‘tidied up’ to make the language more readable.

      6. What is phonetic transcription?

      Phonetic transcription uses an internationally recognised set of symbols to document the sounds of the words, rather than the words themselves. A phonetic transcription is useful when pronunciation is important – such as when comparing speech between different age groups, locations or periods of time.

      7. What is orthographic transcription?

      Orthographic transcription focuses purely on the words, not the pronunciation. Orthographic transcription is commonly used for large-scale corpora, particularly that used for research, where pronunciation is not important.

      8. What is legal transcription?

      Legal transcription is the process of creating written legal documents from video and audio recordings. The recordings can include legally binding interviews and statements as well as general courtroom proceedings.

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      9. What is media transcription?

      Spoken content emanating from the broad spectrum of video and audio media is often transcribed into text documents to enable editing and the dissemination of the content to other media outlets.

      10. What is academic transcription?

      Students and researchers use transcription to convert interviews, lectures and seminars into text documents that are simple to search and easy to edit. Transcription is also used within educational organisations to improve the quality and accessibility of the teaching.

      11. What is interview transcription?

      Interviews are at the heart of the work of a journalist or reporter. This ongoing flow of information needs to be absorbed, understood and collated for use. Interview transcription provides the perfect solution, giving the journalist all the information in a clear, searchable and editable format.

      Other kinds of interview also benefit from transcription. Job interviews, for example. A written transcript allows a more objective appraisal to be made of what was said, free from the distraction of the interviewee’s appearance and body language.

      12. What is market research transcription?

      Gathering and analysing non-numerical data, such as conversations with individuals and focus groups, is a common form of qualitative investigation used for market research. The researchers use transcriptions to keep an accurate, searchable record of what has been said about what, when and by whom.

      13. What is manual transcription?

      Skilled human transcribers, such as courtroom stenographers and those dealing with highly sensitive material (such as evidence in ongoing investigations and interrogations), build their expertise over many years. As a result, they are able to deliver transcriptions at an extremely high standard. This expertise comes at a cost, however, both in terms of time and money, which makes manual transcription unsuitable for large-scale projects requiring a fast turnaround.

      14. What is automatic transcription?

      Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have brought an extensive selection of technological speech-to-text solutions to the public’s attention. Indeed, transcription is almost becoming a standard feature of many operating systems and devices. From in-built features for Mac and PC users to cloud-based apps on mobile phones, automated transcription reduces time and costs significantly by using software to perform the task.

      Automatic transcription does not (yet) meet the skill-level of the trained human transcriber. It is necessary, therefore, to proofread anything that you choose to transcribe by artificial intelligence.

      15. What are transcription services?

      A transcription service can take your video or audio recording and turn it into a text document. Businesses and organisations use transcription services for many reasons (some of which have been mentioned earlier in this article).

      Whether you require a manual transcription service or an automatic transcription service will depend on the sensitivity of your content, the level of accuracy required, and any time and budget constraints. Transcription services typically offer the option of getting the best of both worlds by using AI to do 90% of the work at speed, followed by a human to identify and correct the few remaining errors.

      If you’re ready to get started with your transcription project, it is essential to work with a transcription service provider you can trust. Semantix has the experience and expertise to navigate you through the complexities of the entire transcription process.

      Contact Semantix today to repurpose your audio and video content to reach a global audience.

      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.