How to Format a Transcript - An In-depth Guide

How to Format a Transcript - An In-depth Guide
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


With professional video transcription services, it only takes a transcriptionist a minute to transcribe 80 to 100 words. However, there’s more to transcribing than just listening and typing. A quality transcript is easy to read and follow and meets your requirements even when quickly scanning for reference.

Moreover, the transcription industry is projected to grow in revenue from $1.68 Billion in 2021 to $3.71 Billion by 2031, so if you want your business to reach the top of the revenue chart, you have to go the extra mile to ensure your transcript is the best.

This is where formatting comes in, which can be intimidating if you are not a professional transcriptionist but also very helpful in making your transcript stand out among competitors.

In this guide, we will take you through the process of formatting a transcript, including key elements like speaker labels, time stamps, and inaudible speech.

What Format Should You Use for Your Transcript?

Before you start formatting your transcript, it’s important to decide the type of format for your transcript. There are three common ways to format a transcript that includes full verbatim, semi-verbatim, and intelligent verbatim.

Full verbatim: Transcribing in full verbatim means replicating everything as you heard in the original audio or video recording. As such, you’re transcribing each word and sound uttered.

The final transcript includes slang and filler words like “you know” and captures repeated speech, stutters, speech errors, non-verbal noises, chairs creaking, throats clearing, and false starts. It’s the most detailed form of a transcript.

Semi-verbatim: In certain circumstances, the nonverbal information provided in a verbatim transcription might be distracting rather than illuminating.

In these circumstances, a semi-verbatim transcription can be useful in eliminating extraneous sounds and interjections from the interview. This is a kind of mixture of full verbatim and intelligent verbatim.

Intelligent or edited or clean verbatim: Intelligent or clean verbatim is the most refined and polished form of a transcript as it doesn’t include every element of the recorded meeting or interview.

It’s written in standard English and never captures repetitions or slang. The transcript is fully edited to remove grammatical and punctuation errors and doesn’t include any irrelevant words.

Generally, you should make sure that any professional video or audio transcription service you consider working with is consistent with their format throughout the text, rather than a mix of both. 

Also Read: Transcription: A Worthy and Delightful Task

Key Elements of Formatting a Transcript

When looking to format a transcript, you should pay attention to several important elements, including:

1. Font type and size

Select a proper font type and size if you're writing your transcript in MS Word. Times New Roman and Calibri are the most common fonts for producing readable transcripts. You may set the font size to either 11 or 12 points.

2. Paragraphs, headings, and page number

You can enhance your document by including appropriate headings, subheadings, and page numbers to make it more accessible for readers. Also, improve the readability of long speech by breaking it into 400 to 500-character paragraphs.  

3. Speaker labels 

Labeling the speakers lets you identify who’s speaking in the video or audio recording. There’s a basic rule when it comes to speaker labels; always label a speaker by their name or role. If you can’t tell who’s talking or what their role is, you can use a generic term like “S1” or “Speaker 1.”

To easily format a transcript with speaker labels, start by listening to the recording to pick out the different speakers and their respective roles. You can bold the labels to make them more conspicuous or follow your organization’s preferred style if applicable.   

As shown in the example below, add a colon after the label, then a space, and finally the transcribed text:

Peter: Hello.

Speaker 1: Hello, Peter.

Host: Hello.

4. Time stamps

There’s a good reason why reputable Transcription services pay special attention to time stamping. This element lets the reader easily match specific sections in the transcript with the corresponding parts in the video or audio. Focus groups or market researchers utilize time stamps a lot in their interview transcripts.

There are two standard timestamp formats for a video or audio transcript:

a) Regular interval insertion, whereby the transcript includes a timestamp after a uniform period of time, such as every two minutes.

For example:

Nancy: This is a timestamp [1:0] example.

Tom: Another timestamp [2:0] example.

b) A timestamp at the beginning of a paragraph or each time a different person speaks.

For example:

[02:30] Nancy: Thank you, Tom.

[02:34] Tom: You’re welcome.

5. Tagging inaudible speech and crosstalk 

For any part of the speech you can’t hear, insert an inaudible tag in the transcript, and where two speakers talk at the same time, add a crosstalk tag. Be sure to timestamp each as follows: [inaudible 03:14] and [crosstalk 02:28].

6. Language

If transcribing in American English or for an American audience, use U.S. spelling. Similarly, apply UK spelling when transcribing in UK English. Always check for spelling errors according to the language chosen.

7. Background sounds

Mark out any non-speech elements or sounds in the background with square brackets. To annotate the sound of a door closing, you can type: [door closing].

8. Capitalization

Apply the capitalization rules of your preferred writing style, such as MLA or APA. With standard grammar rules, the first letter in job titles, places, organizations, and names is capitalized.

Keeping these elements in mind while formatting your transcript can help you enhance the quality of the transcript.

How to Format a Transcript in Word

Microsoft Word provides a predefined format for a transcript that may be modified or distributed as is. The document will include a title page that includes the following information:

  • name of the file you submitted
  • media file name and ID and order number
  • duration of the media
  • the date the transcription was ordered

The body of the document is structured in 14-point Arial font, and the footer provides page numbers. You may change the font to Times New Roman or Calibri and set the font size at 11 or 12 points and make other changes to the transcript with MS Word tools.

How to Write a Transcript in APA Format

A transcript’s reference elements in American Psychological Association (APA) format include the type of transcript, such as [audio podcast transcript], name of the speaker and their roles, such as [Host], the title of the video or audio in italics, date of publishing, and the producer/publisher. Always cite the name of the speaker with their initials (for example, “Peter, S.”) until stated otherwise.

How to Format a Video Transcript

Uploading a video on YouTube, Twitch, or Vimeo requires you to include a proper title and description of the content of the video. This description is important if you want your video to rank higher in search results of the app itself or any other search engine. Creating a transcript for your video is an optimal way to increase the reach of your video, but before uploading the transcript, you need to format it properly as per the guidelines to get the desired results.

Create catchy titles, headlines, and subheadings in the transcript. Include your keywords in:

  • Page titles
  • H1 and H2 tags
  • Meta description
  • Alt text
  • On-page content, and
  • URL of the video

When you upload your video transcript on your website, you should ensure:

  • Your video Sitemap corresponds to on-page SEO components.
  • You don’t include < no script> tags, which may cause the website to load slowly.
  • You use in-script links, external links, and relevant links to other pages on your site.

These elements can help you rank your videos higher in search results for your targeted keywords.

Get Customized Transcripts in Your Preferred Format at GMR Transcription!

The process of creating a perfect transcript can be time-consuming and overwhelming, from the transcribing itself and speaker labeling to the time stamps and tags. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, always! Whether you need your transcript in a specific format or want to include important elements like timestamp, name tags, and other important data, we can personalize it to your specific needs. 

So, use your time and other resources on your important everyday work, and let the experienced team at GMR Transcription Services, Inc. lend a hand. Our 100% US-based human transcriptionists have completed over 7.49 million minutes of transcripts with 99% accuracy every time on high-quality audio. For best-in-class video and audio transcription services, contact us right away!

Read Also: GMR Transcription Becomes Unbounce Partner

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.