Types of Transcription Explained: Verbatim vs. Intelligent vs. Edited Transcription

Last Updated April 27, 2021

Here’s an in-depth look at the different types of transcription – verbatim, intelligent, and edited – and what the differences mean for you.

Do you have a transcription project on your hands and you’re not quite sure how to choose between the different types of transcription?

Or maybe you were just made aware that there are multiple types of transcription through the title of this blog post.

That’s okay—we’re about to clear up the confusion.

The right types of transcription to use depend largely on the purpose that you have for your content once it has been transcribed.

To help you make the right decision, let’s look at the differences and common uses for each.

Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription is a word-for-word transcription of spoken language.

It captures everything the speaker says, including fillers like “ah”, “uh,” and “um,” throat clearing, and incomplete sentences.

It also includes pauses, laughter, and other sounds, which are all expected parts of spoken language.

When to use Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription is usually one of the most expensive types of transcription as it takes more time to perform.

However, it is seen as a valuable tool for market research studies, job interviews, police investigations, and court cases.

In all these situations, the behavior and reactions of the person being questioned is equally important as the words that are spoken.

Verbatim Transcription Example

Here’s an example of verbatim transcription in action:

T 1:“A lot of people think that they want strict verbatim transcription because it’s more expensive or, um… you know because it’s one of the types of transcriptions they heard of before… but, um, what they actually want is either intelligent verbatim transcription… an edited transcript or paraphrased translation. Um, strict verbatim transcription or true verbatim transcription can be pretty, um… difficult to read… you know…”

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

Intelligent verbatim transcription adds a layer of filtering to the transcription process in order to extract the meaning from what was said.

Intelligent verbatim transcription omits all “ums,” “oms,” laughter, and pauses throughout the conversation.

The transcriber performs some light editing to correct sentences and grammar and irrelevant words or sentences are eliminated.

When to use Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

Intelligent verbatim transcription is used in scenarios when the meaning of what was said is more important than the exact wording that was used.

For example, intelligent verbatim transcription is useful when transcribing medical diagnoses or business presentations. In these cases, it’s not helpful to have every pause or self-correction.

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription Example

Here’s an example of intelligent verbatim transcription in action:

T 1:“A lot of people think that they want strict verbatim transcription because it’s more expensive or because it’s one of the types of transcription they heard of before. What they actually want is either intelligent verbatim transcription, an edited transcript or paraphrased translation. Strict verbatim transcription or true verbatim transcription can be pretty difficult to read.”

To learn more, check out our blog on intelligent verbatim transcription.

Edited Transcription

In this type of transcription, a full and accurate script is formalized and edited for readability and clarity.

When to use Edited Transcription

Edited transcription may be useful to those who plan to publish the transcribed content or have it translated to foreign languages.

It is often required by lecturers or conference organizers who need the content written in a formal way.

Edited Transcription Example

Here’s what an edited transcription may look like:

T 1:“A lot of people think that they want strict verbatim transcription because it is more expensive or because it’s one of the types of transcription they heard of before. What they actually want is either intelligent verbatim, an edited transcript, or paraphrased translation. Strict verbatim or true verbatim transcription can be difficult to read.”

What type of transcription do I need?

As mentioned above, the preferred types of transcription required largely depend on what it will be used for.

Here are a few common types of uses that we run into:

1. Market Research

Market researchers are as interested in the pauses, laughs, “umms” and “ahhs” as they are in what the respondent has to say.

Many filler words and gaps between sentences provide signals about how a respondent is feeling, even if their words suggest the opposite.

In this case, verbatim transcription will be needed to convey the complete response of the person speaking.

2. Medical Transcription

During medical transcription, it is imperative that the correct meaning from a doctor’s dictation is transcribed accurately into text.

Sentences should make sense and filler words should be removed to increase ease of reading, but the message must not be changed.

An incorrect transcription of a treatment plan would have very serious ramifications.

Medical research is also often done in foreign languages and then transcribed into English.

In both these cases, intelligent verbatim transcription is predominantly the preferred type of transcription.

3. Business Communication

Business owners and corporate executives require clear, straight to the point information.

They don’t care to read through partial sentences and filler words to find out what the speaker is trying to say.

Therefore, intelligent verbatim transcription would be the ideal solution because it offers a concise, and easy to read transcription.

4. Published/Academic Document

Published or academic documents require an element of formality, making edited transcription the ideal solution.

Incomplete sentences will be completed, and informal speech will be converted to a formal written voice.

Challenges Associated with Foreign Language Transcription

As previously mentioned, many of our clients (e.g. market researchers) are as interested in the filler words and gaps between sentences as they are in the sentences themselves.

Foreign language transcription brings an extra layer of complexity as the transcriber will need to understand the cues and meanings behind both the source and target languages for every laugh, pause, and filler word.

Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, French, Czech, Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish, Serbian, and even American Sign Language (to name a few) all have variations of different filler words and contain different meanings behind them.

So how are these placeholders translated?

Transcribers will take their in-depth knowledge of both languages to insert the most appropriate filler words or to transcribe the same meaning behind gaps and laughs between sentences.

This is where quality translation and transcription is critically important.

Deciding which types of transcription to use depends wholly on the intended use for the content.

Summa Linguae Transcription Services

Summa Linguae Technologies is a leading provider of multilingual transcription services to top technology companies across the world.

Transcribe speech from audio and video in any language—easily and affordably.

Contact us today to get started with our transcription services.

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