Is true verbatim transcription necessary for your project?

When deciding to use a transcription service, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether it is necessary to have a true verbatim transcript of your recording.

Really, true verbatim is simply verbatim – where every single word, stutter, aside and hesitation is transcribed.  However, it is often defined as true or full verbatim to differentiate it from another popular service, known as clean or intelligent verbatim.  This is where the vast majority of the recording is transcribed, but habitual hesitations or stutters and some other non-relevant factors are omitted from the transcript.

Another option is edited verbatim, which is also offered by some transcription companies.

With so many to choose from, it can get confusing!  In this blog we’ll help you understand the different types, which will hopefully help you decide whether you require a full verbatim transcription service, clean, or edited.

What is true verbatim?

True verbatim is word for word transcription of the audio, including every background noise, stutter, filler word and non-speech and non-emotion sounds, such as coughing.

Example of a true full verbatim transcript with a speaker who hesitates habitually or stutters:

I – I – I usually go to day care on a – er, on a, um – on a Tuesday.  Yes – yeah, that’s right. That’s when the – the – the, er, [coughs] the taxi arrives to – to pick me up.

Example of a true full verbatim transcript with a speaker who “ums” and “ers” frequently:

Like, er, it’s lovely there, um [sighs], but I can’t get there very often ‘cos of, um, you know, [coughs] er, poor – poor, um, like, public transport. It does cause, like, er, you know, problems when me bus ain’t on time.

What is clean verbatim?

Clean verbatim is an accurate transcription with some amendments to make it easier to read. Such as removing the non-speech sounds or background noises and stutters that are not relevant to what is being said, or how it is being said.

Example of an intelligent / clean verbatim transcript with a speaker who hesitates habitually or stutters:

I usually go to day care on a – on a Tuesday.  Yeah, that’s right.  That’s when the – the taxi arrives to pick me up.

Example of an intelligent / clean verbatim transcript with a speaker who “ums” and “ers” frequently:

Like, it’s lovely there.  [Sighs] But I can’t get there very often ‘cos of, you know, poor public transport. It does cause, like, you know, problems when me bus ain’t on time.

What is an edited transcript?

Edited transcripts cut down the audio to just the essential words, this means omitting any contextual information such as laughter, filler words, background noises and much more.  This is best performed by a transcriptionist or transcription service familiar with the topic or project in question to ensure important factors are not left out of the transcript.

Example of an edited transcript with a speaker who hesitates habitually or stutters:

I usually go to day care on a Tuesday. That’s when the taxi arrives to pick me up.

Example of an edited transcript with a speaker who “ums” and “ers” frequently:

It is lovely there, but I can’t get there very often because of poor public transport. It does cause problems when my bus isn’t on time.

Which transcription service is best for your project?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when deciding the transcription type for your project:

  • Do I need to convey dialect?
  • Is the speaker’s stuttering or hesitation relevant to the context of the recording?
  • Do background noises add anything to the transcript?
  • Do I need an exact transcription of everything on the audio?

“Clean / intelligent” transcription is by far the more popular service our clients choose for interview transcription, life stories and oral history transcription, although we do also provide a fully verbatim and edited transcription service when appropriate.  But it all comes down to the specifics for your particular project and the outcome goals you wish to achieve.

And, of course, it’s fine to change transcription types for each project as they will not all have the same requirements.

Further questions:

If you’re not sure which to choose, please get in touch, we’re happy to help.

For more information and an instant quote, click here for more information https://businessfriend.net/transcription-services/