Transcription - the art of transforming audio content into written text - is an in-demand skill. Companies and organizations such as law firms, academic institutions, finance companies, and parastatals are always looking for transcription services. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for transcriptionists with exceptional language skills.
Interested in starting your career in transcription? Here are six attributes you should strive for if you want to be a good transcriptionist.
Of all the qualities mentioned, proper grammar is, perhaps, the most important transcription skill. The difference between succeeding or failing in your transcription career will mainly depend on your grammar.
With that said, here are eight grammar mistakes you cannot afford to make as a transcriptionist.
Proper punctuation is a basic skill but can be tricky when doing transcription jobs. As a transcriptionist, you should be able to tell when the speaker starts a new sentence, pauses, takes another trajectory, etc. You should also use verbal cues to punctuate the transcript correctly. Punctuation errors lead to run-on sentences or sentence fragments that are difficult to understand.
While listening to an audio recording, it’s very easy to mistype or replace words that have similar pronunciations, e.g., homophones such as affect/effect, principles/principals, cheque/check, and bear/bare among others. This is why it’s important to be able to contextualize information to know which words to use and when to use them.
Companies that require transcription services have zero-tolerance on spelling mistakes. There is no need to over-elaborate this point as it’s pretty obvious. If you can’t spell, you shouldn’t transcribe.
Writing subjects and verbs that do not agree in a sentence is an annoying but common grammatical mistake. Maintain consistency when transcribing singular or plural subjects and verbs. For instance, you cannot type “has” instead of “have” if the subject is singular, and vice versa.
It is common to get the order of letters or digits wrong while listening and typing at a fast pace. For instance, you can end up typing the word “teach” as “cheat” or 86 instead of 68, “form” while you meant to type the word “from”, etc. These simple errors can greatly affect your transcripts and have unintended consequences when it’s used in real life, say a court hearing or medical diagnosis.
You should recognize proper nouns and capitalize them. Some proper nouns -such as dog names- can be missed as they sound like common nouns. For example, “please take spot for a walk” instead of “please take Spot for a walk”. The two phrases are semantically different.
There is always a temptation to use contractions in a transcript as they are easier to type. However, be careful about the placement of the apostrophe or when a contraction changes meaning. For example, many people like to type the contraction “you’re” instead of “your”, thinking they are the same thing. Other people type “it’s” instead of “its”, without caring about the semantics of their sentence.
As a transcriptionist, you cannot afford to use the wrong tense in your transcript. The tense tells the reader when an event occurred. A common verb tense mistake is interchanging the word “past” with “passed”. For example, “he past on” instead of “he passed on”. In this example, the first sentence does not even mean anything in English. Sometimes, a simple verb tense mistake could change the entire meaning of a story or conversation. Good grammar is essential in the transcription business. Luckily this is a skill that can be perfected through regular language exercises.