How to Transcribe Like an Expert

how to transcribe
Learn how to transcribe like an expert

Transcribing can be a real task sometimes. When you have hours of material, whether it’s interviews, audio notes, or minutes; transcribing can be really difficult. If you want to know how to transcribe like an expert, we have some tips that will help you stay on track.

Make sure the audio is well prepared

In case you are transcribing for yourself for either commercial or personal use, make sure you prepare the audio well.

Before you even record the audio, make sure all your levels and equipment are setup to capture good sound. If you microphone is too far away, or if the phone has a bad connection, you will have trouble transcribing the audio later on.

The steps you take in preparing the audio are what will help you most when you are trying to transcribe later. Once you have your recording and are ready to get typing, it’s time to set up your workspace.

On the other hand, in case you’re transcribing for a client, it would be great to ask for audios of great quality. Some clients will simply pay you higher to transcribe poor quality audios. In such cases, get clear instructions on what exactly to type in inaudible bits of the audio.

Focus on your work

You can increase your transcription speed by simply focusing on your work. With good focus, you will do an accurate and good quality transcription. With this, you will not have to spend too much time on proofreading.

Working in a conducive environment is key to maximizing your ability to hear the audio; it should preferably be a quiet space, void of distraction so you have the ability to focus.

Use a good quality headset

Another idea is to acquire a good quality stereo headset. Good quality headsets ensure clarity of audio, making it easier to understand, something that is especially difficult when your subject has a foreign accent or the audio quality is not ideal.

This quality headset will ensure you do not keep going back and forth over the audio, and they can be quite affordable at the bottom end.

Use the features of your word processor

Utilize the features of your word processor, such as Autocorrect in Microsoft Word. These tools can help you reduce the number of keystrokes that you make as you type, subsequently increasing your speed and accuracy. For example, if it is you’re writing about hypothyroidism, you can set up autocorrect to automatically enter “hypothyroidism” whenever you type “hptr”.

In addition to these automated options, it is worthwhile to create a template while transcribing, especially with medical or legal files. With interview subjects, even a basic template that highlights speakers and headings will help you organize your information and save time by having your entire document in the same format.

Use transcription software

To make the playback of your audio even easier to navigate, there is some good, free, transcription software available that allows you to rewind, pause, play, speed up or slow down the audio using keyboard shortcuts.

Practice typing faster

Finally, practice typing faster. Learning to type faster is actually a time consuming process, especially if you haven’t had a lot of exposure to typing at the computer. There are courses you can take to help with developing your writing and transcribing skills, or alternatively, you can hire a transcription service such as Smartdocs who will do all the hard work for you, and quickly. Generally it can take 3 to 4 hours, even for a seasoned transcriber, to transcribe an hour of audio.

Did you already know how to transcribe? What methods do you use? Any expert tips? Feel free to drop a comment below.

About the author

Danielle McAnn is a copywriter working with SmartDocs, where a wide range of businesses, advertising agencies, consultancies, universities, students, government departments and legal practices meet their transcription needs. When Danielle’s not writing content she enjoys swimming, shopping and taking her Golden Retriever for a walk.