How To Write a Transcription

Writing a transcription may seem like a tedious and boring task. However, it is a necessary one. If you or someone you know just spent a certain amount of time conducting an interview, transcribing it is of the utmost importance. It may seem overwhelming, but you can do it. Let me show you how.

Before you can transcribe something you have to see what kind of medium was used to record the interview. Did the interviewer use a digital voice recorder? Maybe he or she used a traditional tape cassette recorder instead. A digital recorder would make your life easier because some of them allow you to slow down the playback by 25 to 50 percent. In any event, let's move on to how you go about transcribing regardless of the device that was used.

First, you should sit down with a copy book or in front of a computer with the recorder. Make sure there aren't any distractions. It is very easy to put on some music or the TV thinking it will only be background noise. Before you know it, you'll be singing or watching it and not working. So, make sure you are focused and prepared to type or write the important information you are about to hear.

Second, you want to keep in mind that when people talk we tend to say words like "um" and "like" a million times in dialogue. If you write or type a sentence that someone said in an interview you may find it does not make grammatical sense. For example, someone might answer a question with: "Well, yeah um ... like it was fascinating to discover such a thing was in the world. Ya know what I mean?" These words in between the content are redundant and annoying to read. Get rid of them. Only keep what is necessary to get across the person's point. You want the text to be accurate, but not frustrating to read.

Thirdly, when transcribing, you should play back the tape when you have completed your transcription. Make sure that you didn't cut out important words or that you aren't misrepresenting the person with your interpretation of what he or she said. Keep your transcription as accurate as possible. It will behoove you to playback the recording one final time while reading the text you typed or wrote.

Finally, when typing on the computer, make sure to save frequently. You don't want your hard work to be deleted because you forgot to save and the computer crashed. Save as often as possible.


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