There are three main styles of transcription you can request your professional service to use during the process of transcribing your audio.  What style you select will depend on the type of recording i.e. an interview or academic research and the end purpose of your transcription document.  Is it important that every sound, word and non-verbal communication is recorded and do you need grammatical errors corrected and slight adjustments made to make the text neater?  Are you wanting your document to be more edited so the end product is easier to read or is it essential the audio is left unchanged?

To make it easier for you, we have provided a break down about the transcription styles available so that you can decide on how you would like your final copy to be presented.

Clean read or business transcription

Specifying this style of transcription will provide you with an easy-to-read transcript that may have been edited and paraphrased to improve the readability of the document.  Clean read is often used for academic research  interviews (Q&A), focus groups, presentations, letters or business communication which is required to be written in a professional manner. Clean style is often the default transcription style of professional services. Unless you specify otherwise the transcriber will remove false starts and any repetitions, as well as correct any minor grammatical errors presenting in the text.  Your document will be free of slang, interrupting comments (speaker listening responses and affirmations), irrelevant to the content and non-verbal communication such as outside noise.

Here’s an example of clean read transcription:

Audio: I, I’m, er [pause] wh, what was the question again [laughing]?
Transcription: What was the question again?

The end result of a clean read transcription will be a document formed into short, clear improved paragraphs which has not changed the meaning of the sentences or overall content.

Verbatim or smooth verbatim transcription

During this process, your audio is transcribed word-for-word with light editing, that  being the removal of ums and uhs and interviewer listening responses, such as uh-huh, um, okay, I see, etc.   Different transcription firms may apply their own style.

An example of verbatim transcription:

Audio: I, I’m, er [pause] wh, what was the question again [laughing]?
Transcription: I, I’m [pause] wh- what was the question again [laughing]?

Verbatim, except for ums and aahs is ideal for indepth qualitative interviews, investigation interviews, and legal files.,.  The style is often preferred in situations where you need to have documented what was exactly said throughout the recording, but not necessarily the full detail which would be supplied under a strict verbatim transcription.

Strict or true verbatim transcription

If you require a detailed document with every word, sound and non-verbal communication captured, then you would need to specify the strict verbatim style, otherwise known as true verbatim.  This style is mainly used for legal and Court hearings, records of interview (investigations) where an exact record is required.

An example of strict verbatim:

Audio: I [pause], I’m [pause] er – wh- what was the question again [laughing]?
Transcription: I [pause], I’m [pause] er – wh- what was the question again [laughing]?

In this style, every utterance is recorded from laughter to pauses, false starts and repeating words and grammatical errors from all speakers (not just the interviewee).  Any interruptions, comments irrelevant to the topic and external noises picked up in the audio are documented.  Strict verbatim is ideal for those recordings where how a person speaks is just as important, if not more, as what they are saying.

It is important to consider what style is going to suit the type of recording and meet your final copy as the outcome of a clean read transcribed document and the text of a strict verbatim document will be considerably different.  There will also be greater variances in cost, verbatim transcripts generally being the higher priced option.

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