Verbatim transcription of interviews is often crucial for legal and research purposes. If you are planning to outsource your legal transcription tasks, one decision that has to be made is whether you want verbatim transcription or intelligent verbatim transcription. ‘Verbatim’ involves the conversion of spoken words into text with the objective of conveying the message exactly as it was delivered. This requires more time to complete. Intelligent verbatim excludes all kinds of fillers as well as pauses, coughs, and throat clearing, but leaves the rest of the exactly as it spoken.
Mindless listening and typing will not work for verbatim transcription as it demands a devoted ear and attention to detail. Here are some important rules to be followed while transcribing verbatim.
Include non-verbal communication
Laughter, pauses, hand gestures and similar elements come under non-verbal communication, which is necessary to convey a true picture of what is being said. Such expressions should not be left out in verbatim transcription as its objective itself is to comprehensively convey the actual message.
A: Are you coming with me today?
B: No! [Laughs] Maybe next time
Fillers and false starts should not be omitted
People might use fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘ums’, and ‘ahs’, in between sentences as they take time to think or frame sentences. Sometimes, a person starts speaking and leaves the sentence incomplete. However, the speaker’s thinking process could be correctly judged by observing such fillers and starts and noting them down, which is necessary for verbatim transcripts.
External sounds are to be observed keenly and noted down
In verbatim, background or surrounding noises should be captured properly and noted along with the conversation. This could be a side conversation, or people walking in or opening of doors. These sounds should be mentioned in brackets, and if necessary, along with time stamps.
Paraphrasing is not allowed and every word should be captured
In certain cases, the speaker details an incident with unnecessary repetitions and words highlighting the emotion. The actual message may contain 4 to 5 sentences which could be paraphrased in a short message. The paraphrased version would suffice for intelligent verbatim transcription but when transcribing verbatim everything in the dialogue has to be included to convey actual emotions.