What Is Verbatim Transcription and When Do You Need It?

What Is Verbatim Transcription and When Do You Need It

When requesting a quote from a transcription service, it’s important to know the level of detail you require. Do you need every single word including filler (“like,” “you know,” etc.)? Do you need every utterance and sound noted? This will help you get an accurate estimate in the short term, and will prevent you from paying twice for the same project in the future.

What is Verbatim Transcription?

A verbatim transcript is one that includes everything in an audio or video file exactly the way it is heard. This includes false starts, filler and incomplete words, guggles (“um”, “uh”, etc.), prompts (“I see”), and non-speech content (laughing, coughing, etc.). It also includes any noises that are heard on the recordings, such as doors slamming or cell phones ringing in the background.

For example:

I also think — I think that it’s right that uh, since you are an excellent agent, that you represent people who wish to be represented by you, and I think that is — I think that is highly appropriate.  Uh, I also like how the uh, I — I like how uh, I’m feeling delighted. (laughs) Go ahead and ask me another question.

If you do not need this level of detail for your transcript, modified verbatim omits filler words and external sounds. It focuses on the core content, with the option of cleaning up grammatical errors if you request it.

For example:

I also think it’s right that, since you are an excellent agent, you represent people who wish to be represented by you, and I think that is highly appropriate.  I’m feeling delighted. (laughs) Go ahead and ask me another question.

When Do You Need a Verbatim Transcription?

– To quote a source

When you’re using the words of another person, you can leave out external sounds, but it’s extremely important to transcribe exactly what he/she said to avoid misunderstandings or contextual errors.

– For Focus Groups and Research Studies

Being able to identify hesitation while conducting market research can make the difference between moving forward with a project and sending it back to the design stage.

– For Legal Documents and Statements

When a transcribed document is going to be used in court, only verbatim transcripts are accepted because even the smallest detail can have a huge impact on the final outcome. What was said is just as important as how it was said, and only a verbatim transcript contains these minor details that would have otherwise been missed.

When do you need a modified verbatim transcription?

A modified verbatim transcription is often best to share information of lectures, seminars, meetings, oral history interviews, webinars, speeches, and podcasts. By leaving out repetitions, false starts, and fillers, the final document will be easier to read.

Final Thoughts

The type of transcript you require depends upon what you plan to do with the document once you have it. If there is a possibility that your transcript will be used in court, there is no doubt it should be verbatim. Please note that it is possible to turn a verbatim transcript into modified verbatim in the editing stage, but going the other way would require beginning from scratch, which would amount to paying twice for the same file.

Another way to avoid paying extra for your verbatim transcripts is to have it done by a company with many years’ experience that can offer you 99.9% accuracy, since any error can have costly legal ramifications.

Finally, transcribing verbatim style is a challenge that requires human expertise. Speech recognition software won’t be able to capture all the words if a host and interviewee speak over one another, if anybody speaks with an accent, or if there is any background noise, which happens in most cases.

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