Digital Transcription
Whether you are doing transcription on your own or outsourcing the task to a digital transcription service provider, it’s important that you have the results in the best format. There are different types of audio transcription file formats as well as text formats, and you need to choose the option that meets your specific requirements.

Video/audio software systems support various file formats. To choose an option, consider if you intend to upload the video on your site along with a descriptive transcript that can be accessed by search engines. Another option to consider is a time-stamped transcript. Along with this, think about the type of text format — verbatim or non-verbatim, summary, or draft. Let’s take a look at these different formats.

Digital Transcription File Layouts

  • Plain text: This is the most common and simplest format, which is also easy to download. It is the text version of video or audio content and includes plain text (.txt), Word doc (.doc), and PDF (.pdf). While plain text is free of computer tags and special formatting, MS Word (docx.) supports text formatting and can be easily edited and read. If you want your transcript in a more shareable format, PDF could be the right option.PDF allows for easy viewing and preserves document formatting, but is not editable.
  • Time-stamped: Including time-stamps adds value to your transcript. Time stamps can be inserted at the required frequency based on your needs. Inserting time stamps at regular intervals such as every 3 seconds or five minutes makes it easy to synchronize the text with a specific point in the audio/video recording. Time-stamping supports video sub-titling, SEO optimization, legal transcripts, etc.
  • HTML: Transcripts in HTML format allow you to post and embed videos on your website. When formatted in HTML, audio and video transcripts can be accessed through an online browser. Screen reader users may prefer a transcript over real-time audio as they can set up the assistive technology to read at a much faster rate than natural human speech. Screen readers interpret web pages by reading HTML files directly.
  • JS and JSON: These formats are used by AI-powered audio transcription tools. They have time-stamps for every millisecond and are useful for interactive applications, such as for interactive transcripts or playlist search. These formats also allow you to search for transcripts in a database of audio/video files. JS and JSON are less common probably because they are difficult to read and not the right option for download.
  • Transcribing Tables: When documents have tables of data, the transcription should maintain the relationship between the rows and columns and interpret the original document correctly. Experienced audio transcription service providers can ensure meaningful capture of the text into table format.
  • Industry-specific format: Each industry has its own transcription format. For instance, consider legal transcripts. The Association for Court Reporters and Captioners (NCRA) advises court reporters to comply with the laws or rules or custom and usage governing transcript format that are applicable in their particular locality. The legal transcription guidelines published on the NCRA website are as follows:
    • No fewer than 25 typed lines on standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper
    • No fewer than nine or 10 characters to the typed inch
    • Left-hand margin to be set at no more than 1-3/4 inches
    • Right-hand margin to be set at no more than 3/8 inch
    • Each question and answer to begin on a separate line
    • Each question and answer to begin no more than five spaces from the left-hand margin with no more than five spaces from the Q and A to the text
    • Carryover Q & A lines to begin at the left-hand margin
    • Colloquy material to begin no more than 15 spaces from the left-hand margin, with carryover colloquy to the left-hand margin
    • Quoted material to begin no more than 15 spaces from the left-hand margin, with carryover lines to begin no more than 10 spaces from the left-hand margin
    • Parentheticals and exhibit markings to begin no more than 15 spaces from the left-hand margin, with carryover lines to begin no more than 15 spaces from the left-hand margin

Digital Transcription Types

Coming to the type of transcription, there are three main options to choose from: verbatim, edited, and intelligent verbatim.

  • Verbatim: This type of transcription involves capturing every word and sound in the audio recording, representing the live conversation or speech exactly as it happened. In addition to faithfully documenting the entire dialogue, verbatim transcripts will include false starts and repetitions, ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, stutters and also coughs, sneezes and background noises. As it is useful to analyze language use, behavior or reactions, the verbatim mode is useful for legal cases and court statements, interviews, and panel sessions.
  • Edited: This can mean fully edited or lightly edited transcripts. In a fully edited transcript, the transcriptionist will transcribe the main parts of each sentence and make an informed decision on what to include and leave out in the text – without altering its structure and meaning. A lightly edited transcript will include the exact words as they are spoken, but will not include any pauses, hesitations or sounds with the aim to ensure readability and clarity.
  • Intelligent verbatim: In intelligent verbatim transcription, all the information from the dialogue is included in a readable form. Any repetitions, hesitations and verbal utterances like uhs and ums are excluded with the aim to improve readability. The transcriptionist will make sentence and grammar corrections, remove unwanted words and sentences, and complete half-finished sentences in a meaningful way. However, professional transcriptionists will not correct grammatical errors, or include or delete content in the transcripts unless specified by the client. Intelligent verbatim is usually required for business discussions, focus groups, and research interviews.

If you have large volume transcription work, the practical option is to outsource it to an expert. Experienced general transcription companies can provide transcription in any style. They can handle time-stamping, technical jargon, accents, and stringent style and formatting requirements and ensure precise, flawless documentation.