Transcription FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to transcribe an audio recording?

Transcription is a highly skilled and specialised area — on average transcribing takes four times as long as the original audio recording length. For example, your one hour long audio may take four hours to transcribe correctly. Transcription is not the same as typing; it involves listening, researching, understanding and then typing. The process is time consuming. Transcibing poor quality audio has taken as much as nine hours per hour of audio recording!

Several things can cause transcribing to take longer than normal and may affect the quality or accuracy of the transcription. These include:

  • Strong accents
  • Multiple speakers
  • Two or more people speaking at the same time
  • Technical terminology (usually requires research for spellings)
  • Lots of names of places, personalities, books etc. (requires research for name spellings)
  • Speaker talks very fast
  • Speaker mumbles
  • Background noise obscuring speech
  • Distorted voices (such as using speaker phones, or mouth too close to the microphone)

You can help the process by providing to your transcriptionist a list of speaker names, place names, product names, or other special terminology used in the recording.

Poor quality audio also contributes to transcriptionist fatigue, errors, and later delivery times for your transcription.

I am happy to listen to samples of your audio and give you an idea of how easy or difficult a given audio will be to transcribe.

Client tips for making a better recording

  • Speak clearly.
  • Speak at a good volume level.
  • Do not speak fast.
  • Have people speak one at a time.
  • Do not put your mouth too close to a microphone.
  • Reduce background noise (people speaking nearby, wind, papers rustling)

You can also help by providing a list of speaker names, place names, product names, or other special terminology used in the recording.

Why should I NOT speak fast on the audio?

The first time through an audio, a transcriptionist slows down the speech rate so she can type as much as possible without stopping and rewinding the tape. The slowing down distorts the speech. The more you slow down the recording, the MORE the speech is distorted. Fast speakers require more slowing down. If instead you speak at a normal rate of speed (not fast), then your speech is more clear to the transcriptionist and your resulting transcription will be more accurate.

What file formats can be used?

I can accept most digital audio file types, including MP3, WAV, WMA and many more. If you are unsure, then send me the file and I will let you know if I am able to listen to the recording.

If your audio is on a CD that was formatted for a CD player, not a computer, then you may be able to obtain a computer file of your audio recording by ripping the CD. Instructions on copying your audio file off a CD using Windows Media Player.

Transcript styles — Regular or Strict Verbatim?

Regular transcription style usually removes:

  • Speech fillers — the ums, ahs, you knows, etc.
  • Stutters and repetitive words
  • False starts (incomplete sentences) and repetitions

In Strict Verbatim style every word is included in the transcript, as well as some sounds and non-verbal communications such as laughter and pauses. Nothing is edited out — every filler, false start, repetition and grammatical error is transcribed just as it sounds. Strict Verbatim style may increase the rate charged for your transcript.

Let me know which style you prefer.