Complete Interview Transcription Guideline for Journalists

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Interview transcription is one of the most common types of transcriptions out there. It can range from job applications to journalist interviews. While most interviews happen when people apply to a company, there are other interviews that hold more value like the interviews that journalists conduct.

These interviews hold more weight and therefore should also be treated as not exactly “more important” but rather “more precise.” This is why strictly following a transcription guideline is very important when it comes to interview transcription. Of course, even with the best transcription guidelines to follow, transcriptionists still have to use the right tools in order for them to come up with high-quality transcription. Before starting the transcription, it is important to know the two types of transcription.

Different types of transcription

There are only two important types of transcriptions in order to simplify everything. There is full verbatim and there is also non-verbatim. Although full verbatim is mostly preferred when it comes to interviews done by a journalist, it is still important to ask the client as to which one they would prefer.

Full verbatim

Full verbatim transcribes everything from the pauses to the “umms” and the other weird little sounds that the one being interviewed makes during the full length of the interview. Sometimes, these pauses and other sounds are very important since they allow interpretation for the journalist or news writer later on. This is usually preferred in more personal interviews.


Non-Verbatim notes mostly the more important parts of the interview transcription as opposed to Full verbatim which notes every single sound made. Of course, the main essence of the transcription should not be compromised and nothing should be altered still.

Best transcription guidelines

1. Accuracy

Of course, the only things that should be typed are the words that are heard within the audio file. Phrases or words, however, which are not understood, should still not be omitted from the whole interview transcription but instead, they should be appropriately tagged according to the company’s own guidelines.

2. Right English

There should be no errors in capitalization, in punctuation, and in spelling of the words. Never use shortcuts like “u” or even abbreviations like “idk”. The full words should still be spelled out when it comes to interview transcription.

3. No paraphrasing

The job of a journalist is to report without bias which is why there should be no paraphrasing. The transcript should speak for itself. Also, it is important not to omit words even if the transcriptionist thinks it is irrelevant. Also, never add words just to make the sentence sound correct.

4. No additional information

As mentioned earlier, there should be no other information added to the final transcript and this includes page numbers, titles of your comments, job numbers, and any other information that can still be submitted in separate fields below the given transcription.

5. Cleaning up

For non-verbatim works, make sure to lightly edit the stutters, the fillers, the false and etc. It is important to communicate with the client as to what should be removed and what should be retained within the transcription. Of course, when asked to do verbatim work, only edit the things that the client wants.

Transcription format

The majority of interview transcripts will usually be submitted to the transcriptionist on a much larger audio file. Most transcription companies usually require their transcriptionists to deliver consistently from the first file to the next. This is why there are format transcripts. It is important to check the given format transcript rules (if any) before starting the interview transcription. Here’s a rough format of the general transcription guidelines.

Correct Paragraph and Sentence Structure

  • Transcripts should use a word wrap when they are writing. It is important to fix any of the line breaks within the middle of the paragraphs before submission.

  • Never use double spaces after any sentence or anywhere else within the interview transcription. Transcripts may use the Search & Replace function within the word processor to simply change all of the given double spaces into singular space ones.

  • Make sure to use correct grammar. All of the sentences should start with a general capital letter and the correct punctuations should always be used.

  • Whenever it is possible, make sure to break those compound sentences into smaller and readable ones. Longer sentences should definitely be broken down into fragments. Of course, never force this if it is impossible to do so.

  • Keep the paragraphs to a maximum of only 400 characters

  • Insert a simple blank line between two paragraphs. Make sure to start another paragraph with every speaker change.

  • Make sure that nothing is indented.


The use of conjunctions like “so”, “but”, “or”, “because”, “and” as well as others are all used to join two parts of a particular sentence together. Whenever it is possible, try not to start a particular sentence with any conjunctions. Although most of the time, it is possible to cut off the given words without having to change the entire meaning of the said sentence. Conjunctions are supposedly only to be used during the start of a certain sentence if removing them would change the entire meaning.

What are Speaker Labels

These are words that are used to identify who is speaking in the audio. The label is usually noted by the speaker’s name, or role, or any other way to identify them.

  • Make sure to use these speaker labels in order to identify the speaker as accurate as possible.

  • Format the speaker labels correctly in accordance to the company’s or client’s rules.

The speaker label noted should be followed by both a colon and a space. It is also important to capitalize every speaker label word.

Best transcription tool

Whenever transcribing something important, there should be equal efforts given in both transcribing and editing. This is why using the perfect transcription tool like Izitext could minimize the need for unnecessary extra work.

Izitext is a transcription tool that gives instant transcription that only needs to be edited in order to fit the transcription guideline given to the transcriptionist. This is a great tool for interview transcription as it makes the job of the journalist much easier.

Follow our blog for more useful tips and guidelines to become a professional transcriptionist.

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