Tips for Transcribing (Part One)

Image: Computer Keyboard.


In this section, we will look at some general tips for transcribing audio content. Keep in mind that these tips may not work for all people, and that the process of transcribing may need to be changed by and for persons with disabilities. That said, here is a general overview of the process and some advice on how to transcribe effectively.

General Tips

There are two main types of transcripts.

  • Verbatim transcripts capture every word spoken on an audio recording, including stutters, false starts, and minimal responses. Minimal responses include uh, um, uh-hum and Mm-hmm (Tigerfish Transcription Style Guide, 2010).
  • Clean or Non-Verbatim transcripts are edited for clarity, do not include stutters, false starts, or repetitions and remain as close to the spoken material as possible. They require a good command of written English, grammar and sentence structure and remain as close as possible to the audio recording (, 2015).
When transcribing:
  • Use good quality headphones to listen to the audio content while you transcribe. Sometimes the sound can be muffled or difficult to hear, so good quality headphones can save you time from having to re-listen to certain segments many times over.
  • Open up a word processing software like Microsoft Word or Pages, and give your transcript a clear title. For example, “Interview with Mayor Sam Chin.”
  • To save time while typing, use “P” for participant and “I” for interviewer. Later, if necessary, you can use a “find and replace” function to add the participant and interviewer’s names.
  • Transcribe the text in single space with only one speaker per line.
Here’s an example of what a transcript of an interview would look like:
Interview with Mayor Sam Chin

I: Toronto Mayor Sam Chin joins me now in studio. Good to have you with us.

P: Good to be here.

I: Let's start with today's big meeting - yet again - on the Scarborough subway. Hasn't this issue been resolved, yet? I think a lot of people out there would think it's a done deal. It's not?

P: Well, it seems no. I keep saying that we need to move ahead with this project, that people in Scarborough have waited a long, long time and we want to deliver on a promise to them. It's the right thing to do.

I: What do you say to city council members who want to re-open the issue, have another vote, redesign the idea or scrap it altogether?

P: Look, we've had eight votes in council already. Eight times where we've looked at what could be done, what should be done. And eight times where we've decided we're going ahead. It's going to happen. And hopefully we'll get things started soon.

I: Mayor Sam Chin, thank you for your time.

P: My pleasure. Anytime.