Are you looking for transcription services? 

Do you need to transcribe your business meeting, presentation, or learning seminar? Or perhaps a conference call or lecture, focus group, or interview?

Or maybe you need to create subtitles or a voice-over for a foreign language video, and don’t know where to start? 

Professional, high-quality, accurate transcription of your audio is definitely the first step in the process!

Here is a complete guide to ordering a transcription service which details everything you need to know and breaks down the technical process of transcription.

What is Transcription?

Transcription is the process of converting speech into written text.

Ordering TranscriptionsWhen inquiring about professional transcription services for your audio or video, you will most likely be asked these three questions: 

  1. Do you require true verbatim or clean verbatim? 
  2. Do you need timestamping?
  3. How quickly do you need it done? 

True Verbatim Versus Clean Verbatim

Clean verbatim in audio aims at recreating what has been said, while true verbatim illustrates how it is said as well as what is said.

If audio transcription uses clean verbatim, stutters, non-content words, and repetitive words are excluded unless they are essential in the statement. 

True verbatim contains every piece of information, including stutters, false starts, and sounds like ‘uh.’

For example:

“I, uh, do like sausages, and, you know, also eggs are good.”

If the above sentence is transcribed using true verbatim, then every word and utterance will be presented to the reader. For the clean verbatim, the sentence will read like this:

“I like sausages and eggs.”

Please note that there is no stutter, and empty words like ‘know,’ ‘do,‘ and ‘you’ are excluded. All words carry meaning in a clean verbatim. 

In dialogue, if the interviewer interjects comments like ‘yeah,’ and ‘mm-hmm,’ they are excluded in clean verbatim. True verbatim, on the other hand, includes all of these utterances. 

Choosing Between True Verbatim and Clean Verbatim

In most cases, clean verbatim will be the better option for both audio and video transcription. Clean verbatim costs less, and it improves the flow of the document. 

However, it might be important for some projects, such as legal interviews, court hearings, or some marketing focus groups, for example, to record the exact manner in which something was said. For such projects, a true verbatim is a viable option.


Video and audio transcriptions may require labels in the text to show the exact time when the words were spoken. These labels are known as timestamps, and their format is: HH: MM: SS. 

An example:

“At [00: 19: 20], the driver says he did not over speed.” 

The timestamp above pinpoints that the driver says the words nineteen minutes and twenty seconds into the recording. It may or may not be a necessary addition, depending on the purpose of the transcript.

There are different timestamping styles used in transcription. You can opt for any of the following:

  • Periodic timestamps appear consistently after a certain amount of time. For example, a periodic timestamp of 30 seconds will appear in the 30th second of the recording, then in the 60th second, and so on continuously until the end.
  • Paragraph timestamps appear at the beginning or end of each paragraph of the transcript. They are less frequent and do not distract the reader.
  • Sentence timestamps appear after every sentence of the transcript. Sentence timestamps are precise but distract the reader.
  • Speaker timestamps are ideal for conversation audio/videos, as the timestamps are inserted when there is a change in the speaker. Interviews and panel discussions use this style.

When are Timestamps Necessary?

If you require your reader to listen to a specific part of the video, you can request a timestamp. When you do this, the reader will not have to listen to the whole video when he/she is interested in a small part of it. 

Interviews, panel discussions, and legal audio/videos are some examples that require timestamping. Editors also benefit from timestamping when they have instructions to edit a specific part of a video. 

If you plan to use subtitles or voice-over in your video, timestamps are a must, as multimedia engineers will need this information to place the subtitles correctly in each video frame.

You have probably seen videos with the voice-over lagging behind the actual scene in the video or, on the contrary, coming before it. Well, that is because the timestamps were either not provided, or placed incorrectly. 

It would be ideal to have the same company work on the transcription, translation, and subtitles or voice-over so that they can test and troubleshoot such issues if necessary.

Repercussions of Inaccurate Transcription

Inaccurate audio transcription may lead to unfortunate consequences. The medical and legal sectors are among those most affected by such inaccuracies. For both sectors, accurate transcription is crucial, as even a small error can lead to serious consequences.

The margin for error in corporate transcription is considered larger, but you should not settle for anything less than 100% accuracy, especially if the transcription is just the first step of the project of producing subtitles or voiceover. 

For example, if the transcript needs to be translated, even the slightest error in the transcript can potentially lead to mistranslation, compounding the original error. This can lead to unfortunate outcomes.

In some Romance languages, such as French and Italian, a verb can have exactly the same or similar pronunciation in its multiple tenses, persons, plural and singular. Transcribing this incorrectly can lead to other errors in the consequent segments, as they will be conjugated in agreement with that verb. This can result in an incorrect translation of the text.

Homophones (words that sound the same but have different spelling and meanings) can present a challenge during transcription. For example, ‘knew’ and ‘new,’ ‘guerilla’ and ‘gorilla’ in English, ‘une amande’ (an almond) and ‘une amende’ (a fine), ‘aussi tôt’ (too early, as soon as possible) and ‘aussitôt’ (immediately) in French, etc.

Therefore, when inquiring about transcription services, find out how the service provider ensures the accuracy of transcription and what QA processes and procedures they have in place. 

If they do not have established procedures for ensuring accuracy, then you may wish to look elsewhere.

Transcription for Corporate Use

There are some things that a business requires to improve and grow. Some of its resources require transcription so they can achieve better results. Examples of such activities are:

  • Webinars
  • Training seminars
  • Marketing focus groups

1. Webinars and Training Seminars

Ordering Transcription Services

In a world where businesses are increasingly becoming dependent on online communication, video conferencing, webinars, and training seminars are becoming an integral part of our professional lives. 

Webinars are active discussions of different issues affecting a business. Sometimes, participants get focused on one point while missing other important information. Taking notes might not always be possible, as it distracts from active participation, not to mention technical issues, especially when people work from home with sometimes unreliable internet connections.  

Making the transcript of a session available after the event helps participants to reflect on what was said and makes it possible to bring others into the loop who could not be in attendance. 

Similarly, transcripts of training seminars help trainees refer to things they might have missed during the seminar. 

Knowing that the transcript of the event will be available to your participants, you can even discourage them from taking notes during the session so that they can fully focus on listening and interacting with others. 

2. Marketing Focus Groups

When conducting marketing research, maximize your results by transcribing focus group discussions. The transcriptions allow you to have precise and accurate records when putting together a report. They can also be used as a reference if you need them in the future. 

Time and Cost Required for Transcriptions

Transcription providers usually charge for the time spent on the project.

As per industry standards, transcribing an audio recording can take up to four times longer than the length of the audio itself. For example, it will take an hour for a 15-minute audio transcription. In some cases, however, it may take even longer. 

Below are the factors that affect the time required for audio or video transcription.

The number of speakers

The more speakers, the more time is required to transcribe the audio.

Clarity of speech and accents

In some cases, the speech is unclear because the speaker has a speech impediment. In others, the speaker has a heavy accent that hinders understanding what s/he is trying to say. These factors may influence the time required for transcription, as the transcriber will need to listen to the audio repeatedly to make out parts of the audio that are difficult to understand.

The quality of sound

Poor quality of sound and background noise may make the recording almost unintelligible and require more time for transcription.  

The technicality of the topic

A more technical topic requiring additional research will take more transcription time.

Factors Affecting the Price of Transcription 

Various factors affect the final price of the transcription service. The price depends on the specifications of the project, which are described below.

Transcription style

True verbatim costs more than clean verbatim, as it takes longer and requires more precision and time to produce. Clean verbatim is more straightforward; hence the cost is lower.

The urgency of the project

If the project is urgent, the transcription cost will be higher. To deliver on time, transcription will be done by a number of transcribers, which may increase the cost of the project. Allowing reasonable time to complete your transcription project is always recommended, as it will eliminate stress for everybody involved.

Subject matter

Technical subjects that require the transcribers to put in research cost more than regular projects, as the research takes time. Medical, law and science-related projects are some examples that can demand higher costs for transcription. 

Audio quality

Low audio quality will affect the audio transcription cost, as it will require the transcribers to listen to the audio multiple times. To avoid these extra costs, ensure that:

  • You record in quiet venues and avoid noisy places such as restaurants whenever possible.
  • You record using quality recorders. 

Key Takeaway

Identifying the transcription style, timestamping requirements, and price determinants will help you better prepare to order transcription services. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your project with us, we will be happy to hear from you.

Contact us today to discuss your project.

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