Important Things To Note As A Beginner Transcriber

By now we are all aware of what audio or video transcription is or should I say, that you are researching on this topic, which means that you already have a rough idea of what transcription entails. Well, for those who do not know and just stumbled upon this article, I would like to inform you that transcription is creating transcripts from existing audios and video files which are usually pre-recorded or during live proceedings. In the layman’s language, we can say that transcription is typing out what you hear on an audio or video file.

In 2020, I can say without a doubt that the profession that is transcription is gaining so much traction and a lot of individuals are getting into it and making a lucrative career out of it. Transcription is one of those careers that individuals have the privilege of partaking in from the comfort of their homes because it is an online type of career.

It can get really daunting and scary when you first start out as a transcriber and this brings us to why this article exists.  We all start somewhere and what makes us good at a particular thing is through learning and practice. In this article, we will look at the important points to note as a beginner transcriber that will see your transcription career grow to incredible heights. I have categorized these points into what you should do and what you shouldn’t do.

1. Always research difficult words.

We have very many types of transcription and depending on what type of transcription you are getting into, already are in, or you would want to get into, you should be able to research difficult words because you will meet a lot of those. A good example would be Legal transcription. A lawyer will tell you outrightly how hard the legal jargon is and if you are not a lawyer by profession, the only way you will hack a legal transcription is through research. This means that you should have impeccable research skills that will enable you to look for different difficult terms in order to come up with conclusive transcripts. Also, seeing that the industry is quite fast-paced you should be able to do your research while bearing in mind that there is a turnaround time that might affect the time you take to do your research. Another thing to note is that context is key in transcription. This only means that you cannot use Medical terms in a Legal transcription to mean a specific thing that is the same across both industries. The only way to denote this and come up with the right word to use is through research. If after research you still can’t conclude then it is always advisable to put a [inaudible] tag and include the specific time stamps of where that word appears.

2. Use appropriate regional spellings

Depending on the language you are working with, it is always important to use appropriate regional spellings. What this means is that spellings of different words vary depending on the region in question. In such an instance the client will always make a specific request on what region spellings they would appreciate for their transcription works. A great example would be the difference in word spellings in US English and UK English. There are clients who will be very specific that they want their transcripts to have either of the two types of English. As the transcriber, always make sure to hid to their requests to the letter. You will notice that in UK English, the spelling of words is absorbed directly from other languages whole in US English the spelling is highly based on how the words sound when spoken.

3. Use the specific verbatim requested by a client.

Most people might argue that leaving a transcript in full verbatim is the best route to take as a beginner transcriber but I beg to disagree. From time to time, you will be requested to do a full verbatim on audio transcription but always be keen on what the client needs before you start on a transcription job. Sometimes a client would want a clean, full, or modified verbatim and always be able to follow their requests and deliver on the same. Be sure to note that a Full verbatim is a kind where you create a transcript that is inclusive of all dialogue spoken, word for word, including fillers, false starts, incorrect sentences, slang words, stutters, and repetitions. A clean verbatim is the opposite of a full verbatim where you create a transcript that is free of fillers, false starts, incorrect sentences, slang words, stutters, and repetitions. A modified verbatim is more of a clean verbatim transcript with specific modifications like timestamps and captions depending on the requests of a client. Always, be sure to follow the requests of a client before carrying out a transcript so that you can know whether they want a full, clean, or modified verbatim for their transcripts.

4. Never paraphrase or change grammar

I remember when starting out as a transcriber, I always felt the urge to correct all grammatical errors I would come across in the transcription works I would take on. This is because poor grammar didn’t sit right with and during proofreading, I would feel so wrong handing in a transcript that had many grammatical errors. Fast forward I learned that I was expected to create the transcripts exactly how I heard them on the audios because then they would remain true and original as expected. All I’m saying is that, as a transcriber, your work is to type out exactly what you hear on the audio/video file, however bad the grammar is, it is exactly how it is supposed to be and you should not feel the need to change it. Also, do not paraphrase an audio file. From time to time, you will work on really long audio files and it is important to translate the whole audio into a transcript and not feel the need to paraphrase it. Don’t alter speaker words even if they’re incorrect grammatically. Don’t add or remove any words or information regardless of how relevant or irrelevant they seem. A good example is when you find a speaker on audio is constantly starting their sentences with the word “so”. It gets redundant but include all of them when creating a transcript.

5. Note interrupting noises

It really hard to get audio/video files that have no background interruptions unless it’s a one-speaker audio/video file in a compact studio. In the beginning, what I would do with background noises, I would really try my best to denote what was being mentioned and then go ahead and capture it on the transcript. That is not the right way to go about this. The best thing to do is to always make sure you include that background noise on the transcript by putting brackets and then specifically describing what that sound is. It might be someone whispering, laughing, shouting, or whichever other interruption that can be denoted. A note should also be made for silence when necessary. Always try to keep the description as short as possible but in a manner where anyone can grasp and understand easily.

 6. Take into account transcript structure requirements

As mentioned in point number one, there are very many types of transcripts. You will come across Legal, Medical, Media, Education, Business, Finance, and many other types of transcriptions. All these different transcripts have different formats and structural requirements. If you don’t have this information prior to taking on any transcription job, the client always mentions the structure and formatting he/she wants for their transcripts. From breaking the transcript into paragraphs to how to use spaces to items to monitor for grammar, it’s best to gain knowledge of these requirements ahead of time. There are clients who will want paragraph timestamps others would want new speaker time stamps. You should be able to deliver because it determines the general outcome of your transcripts.

7. Consider using technology, including Artificial Intelligence

In 2020, I can proudly say that there are a lot of technologies that have been specifically developed to make transcription work easier and less challenging. Technology can help to ensure both accuracy and speed, so you don’t have to turn away projects and can expand your services. There are lots of speech-to-text software out there that will help you come up with transcripts and all you have to do is to proofread to make minor corrections from time to time.

All these points will work to the benefit of your career as a transcriber. I don’t promise that it will be easy when starting out but if you keep up and take these points into consideration, you will be surprised by how fast and steady you will grow as a transcriber.

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