Verbatim Transcription: Meaning and When It's Needed

Verbatim Transcription: Meaning and When It's Needed
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Clients can request different forms of transcription. The transcriptions are largely the same but differ slightly in their formatting as well as the level of detail required.

For example, some clients may want verbatim transcription which means every sound in a conversation transcribed.

This includes the spoken words, stutters and other sounds made.

What is Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription refers to capturing every sound heard in an audio or video file. With verbatim transcription, everything said by the speakers is transcribed.

Therefore, apart from complete sentences, you will also capture laughs, stutters, false starts, giggles, and other sounds in your transcript.

Non-speech sounds that may be heard in the file like slamming doors, ringing cellphones, and barking dogs in the background also need to be transcribed.

Below is an example of verbatim transcription.

For transcriptionists, uh, it is important that that, uh, transcriptionists should have the right gear to be successful (phone rings). To be successful in their careers (coughs).

If this level of detail is not needed in the transcript, a good option would be to transcribe the modified verbatim.

With modified verbatim, the transcriptionist will not only transcribe the audio or video file but also clean up any grammatical errors in the sentences spoken, remove filler words, and omit non-speech sounds.

Continuing with our example sentence above, the text would read as follows when transcribed in modified verbatim.

Transcriptionists should have the right gear to be successful in their careers.

When is Verbatim Transcription Used?

From the example above, it is clear that modified verbatim transcription makes a lot more sense than verbatim transcription.

However, verbatim transcription also has its place and is useful in various contexts.

Here are some instances when it would be prudent to use verbatim transcription.

  • Quoting a source
    When you are quoting a person, you should use their exact words. In this case, you can eliminate non-speech sounds but ensure the speaker’s words are captured as exactly said to avoid contextual errors or misunderstandings.
  • Focus groups and research studies
    Understanding how people react in a focus group from the words they say or non-speech sounds they make can help you know how they feel about the research topic. For example, hesitating by using filler words like “uh” when answering questions could indicate that the subjects are having second thoughts about an issue.
  • Legal documents and statements
    The courts only allow verbatim transcripts to be presented as evidence or for examination before it. The speech details in a piece of information captured can have a huge impact on the final outcome of a case.
    For the courts, what is said, including other non-speech sounds, filler words, and false starts, is critical in determining a stand in a legal matter.

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When is Modified Verbatim Transcription Used?

Modified verbatim transcription is mainly used for business purposes.

Companies or organizations that hold training seminars, lectures, meetings or interviews are mainly interested in the information passed by the speakers.

For them, it makes sense to leave out repetitions, fillers, and false starts in the final transcripts Modified verbatim transcripts flow naturally and are easier to read.

Which Transcription Should You Use?

As a business, the type of transcription you should request will depend on the information you want to be transcribed as well as where it will be used.

For audio or video content meant for your customers, you will want modified verbatim transcription.

On the other hand, if you have confessions or other recordings that may have to be used for legal purposes, stick to verbatim transcription.

This type of Transcription services is also recommended when quoting a source for your work.

Also Read: 4 Tips for Accurate Transcription When the Speaker Stutters

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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.