Verbatim, intelligent verbatim or edited transcription?

Something that makes a big difference to how long it takes to transcribe an hour of recording is whether you require your transcription to be verbatim.

It’s easy to think ‘Well I must need verbatim transcription or I wouldn’t need a transcription,’ but bear in mind that verbatim transcription includes every repeated word, every ‘um’ and ‘erm’, all those ‘filler’ phrases like ‘you know’ and ‘know what I mean’ that may be repeated a hundred times in one interview, and can also include pauses, coughs, throat clearing etc. if required. Needless to say, this takes longer. If the transcriptionist can filter out all this stuff the transcript is quicker. Our cheapest level is what we call ‘intelligent verbatim’ which cuts out all these fillers but leaves the rest exactly as it’s spoken. Somewhat more expensive is edited, which corrects the grammar and any mispronounced words as well as knocking out all the fillers. Here are some brief examples.

Verbatim:

 Erm … well, I dunno really, know what I mean? I mean, you know, when I asked them what Mary’s, er, um, condish, condit, condition was, they said like erm ‘I’m afraid we can’t, erm, tell you that, Mrs. Smith, ’cause you ain’t a relative.’

Intelligent Verbatim:

 Well, I dunno really. I mean when I asked them what Mary’s condition was they said ‘I’m afraid we can’t tell you that, Mrs Smith, ’cause you ain’t a relative.’

Edited:

 Well I don’t know really. I mean when I asked them what Mary’s condition was they said ‘I’m afraid we can’t tell you that, Mrs Smith, because you are not a relative.’

You can see that a whole extra line of typing is required for the verbatim work in just those few short sentences.

There are occasions when verbatim transcription is required; depending on your topic it might be required for legal reasons, or you might be studying the language. But if you really don’t need it, don’t end up paying for it!

Below is a table detailing what is included or excluded as standard for the three levels of transcription:

 

Verbatim Intelligent Verbatim Edited
Include: Exclude: Exclude:
All ums and ers All ums and ers unless the ‘Er’ is at the beginning of a sentence and is followed by a long pause All ums and ers
All fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘know what I mean?’ All fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘know what I mean?’ All fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘know what I mean?’
All repeated words All repeated words unless repeated for emphasis e.g. I never, never swim more than 64 lengths All repeated words
All stutters and stammers (but only a maximum of three repeats for each e.g. ‘I st, st, st, started saying …’ All stutters and stammers All stutters and stammers
All ‘non-standard language’ e.g. ain’t, ’cause. Include all ‘non-standard language’ e.g. ain’t, ’cause. All ‘non-standard language’ e.g. ain’t, ’cause.
Only include throat clearing, coughing, details of interruptions etc. if required by client Throat clearing, coughing, details of interruptions etc. Do tidy up sentences in order to improve grammar or flow.

About

Anne Hickley has been running Penguin Transcription and Penguin Office Services since 2003. She is PhD qualified and has worked for a wide range of organisations, from large multinationals to small businesses, before starting her own businesses.