Transcription 101: 4 Types of Audio Transcription and When to Use Them

Posted by Anne Quach on August 10, 2021.

Audio transcription is the process of converting spoken dialogues into written scripts. The real process is not as simple as the definition sounds though. When working on an audio transcription project, you need to take many aspects into consideration. For example, which type of transcription you should use, which format type is optimal, or how to handle difficult audio files.

In this first post for the Transcription 101 series, we will start with the very basic – what are the 4 key types of audio transcription? By comparing the differences and common uses of each type, we will help you choose the suitable types of audio transcription for your projects.

1. Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription (also called True verbatim or Strict verbatim transcription) is one of the most straightforward yet detailed types of audio transcription. It is a word-for-word conversion of spoken language into text that captures both the content of the audio files and the manner of the speakers.

To be more specific, a verbatim transcription includes the following elements:

      • All filler words (e.g. uh, um, ah, etc.)
      • Stutters
      • Interjections
      • Pauses
      • Non-verbal communication (e.g. laughter, throat clearing, coughing, etc.)
      • Ambient background noise (e.g. talking or noises from an audience)

Features that should not be changed or included in verbatim transcription:

      • Grammatically incorrect or incomplete sentences should NOT be corrected or edited.
      • Irrelevant noises to the audio content (e.g. thunder, police sirens, vehicle horn, etc.) should NOT be included.

Types of audio transcription - Verbatim Transcription

* The verbatim transcript is the same as the original text

When Should You Use Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription should be used in situations when both the reactions or behaviour of the speakers and their answers are important such as:

      • Market research studies
      • Police investigations
      • Court statements
      • Job interviews


2. Clean Transcription

Clean transcription (also known as Edited transcription or Clean verbatim transcription) adds a layer of filtering to the transcription process. Instead of writing down all sound elements of the audio files, transcribers actively leave out filler words or unnecessary non-verbal communication that do not add much meaning to the audio content. A clean transcription looks more formal and less distracting than other types of audio transcription.

Main characteristics of clean transcription:

      • All filler words, stutters, interjections, and pauses are removed.
      • Affirmations and interruptions may also be excluded.
      • Ambient noise, sounds, and non-verbal communication are omitted.
      • Repetitive words are adjusted.
      • Incomplete sentences or grammar mistakes are corrected.

Types of audio transcription - Clean Transcription

When should you use clean transcription?

With the end result is formal and easy-to-read, clean transcription is the most widely used for all purposes, especially for education or speeches:

      • Formal conferences
      • Business meetings
      • Medical transcription
      • Lectures
      • Academic Document


3. Phonetic Transcription

Phonetic transcription focuses on the pronunciation of words and the way that the speakers utter words. Transcribers represent each speech sound with a separate symbol. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are the most widely accepted system of symbols used for this type of audio transcription.

Types of audio transcription - Phonetic Transcription

When should you use phonetic transcription?

Compared to the other three types of audio transcription, phonetic transcription has specialized use in linguistics or academia. It is especially useful for foreign language students and teachers, speech-language pathologists, linguists as well as singers and actors.


4. Summary Transcription

Summary transcription is the process of transforming a lengthy audio transcript into a short and well-structured summary that covers the most significant content of the audio such as key concepts, implementation summary, concluding proposals, etc. The length of a summary transcript varies, depending on your requirements or demands. It can be a page long or only a paragraph long.

Summary transcription should be used to help the readers grasp the overview content of a conference, a podcast, a video or education materials.

We hope the insights above have helped you choose the suitable types of audio transcription for your project by now. However, it’s just the beginning step. The quality of your audio transcripts is determined by the transcribers. So make sure you work with an experienced and professional transcriber team.  Check out GTE Media transcription solutions to see how we can assist your audio transcription projects.



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