How To Transcribe: Verbatim or Non-verbatim Transcription

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Transcription work might be a little more complicated than the typical audio to text process that most beginner transcriptionists think of. In fact, there are two different types of transcription. Usually, when a client puts in an order, they will be met with a choice to make.

Verbatim and non-verbatim are the two choices that clients usually make when it comes to ordering a transcription. For the transcriptionist side, it is an utmost necessity to be familiar with both of these choices in order to properly deliver what the client wants. The problem with not knowing both the verbatim and the non-verbatim type of transcription is that if the transcriptionist gets it wrong, the client might ask for a total redo which can prove to be quite difficult.

The difference between verbatim transcription and non-verbatim transcription rules

In order to properly carry out either the verbatim or non-verbatim type of transcription, it is important to follow a couple of rules. Of course, there’s actually a technique to make the process easier. This is through the use of transcription software. This specific type of transcription tool automatically transcribes.

Although things could get a bit complicated, these are the two main types of transcription that need to be familiarized: verbatim and non-verbatim. Things might get a little complicated along the way but first of all, try to start with verbatim and the different types of verbatim.

  • Clean verbatim transcription

This is also sometimes known as either the intelligent verbatim or even the non-verbatim.

  • True verbatim transcription

This can also sometimes be known as the strict verbatim or even just simply verbatim.

This is important to remember so that whenever someone mentions clean verbatim, the transcriptionist will know that this means non-verbatim. This way, the transcriptionist won’t get confused when initially clarifying or digesting the given instructions with regards to the transcription.

Each one of these types of transition is preferred in different circumstances. Basically, when the transcription should focus on what is being said, the transcriptionist should use a clean verbatim or non-verbatim. When the transcriptionist is expected to also capture not just what is said but also how something is being said, they should use true verbatim.

Although the styles of both verbatim and non-verbatim might differ depending on the company or transcription provider that the transcriptionist is working with, generally, there are still a few rules to follow. These rules may vary slightly. Thus, it’s still necessary to read them just to be sure.

Rules of Clean verbatim transcription

Clean verbatim can also be known as either intelligent verbatim or more commonly, non-verbatim. This is a particular style of transcription that should omit or even adjust the following:

  • Stutters

  • Speech fillers like “um,” “uh,” “erm”, and more

  • Word repetitions. Only unless they are intentionally being used to emphasize something

  • Speaker idiosyncrasies or the use of repetitive words as the following: “actually,” “like,” “sort of,” “honestly,” “kind of,” and many others. This may differ from speaker to speaker.

  • Interjections that are made by the interviewer like “mm-hmm,” “ummm,” and others.

  • Other non-speech sounds like coughing, clearing the throat, and sometimes even laughter (depending on the content since this still helps with the context)

  • False starts or other redirects

  • Use of run-on sentences

While everything above might seem like a lot of things to be changed, it is very important to understand that the use of clean verbatim transcription is still not considered a 100% accurate representation of the given original dictation. Non-verbatim is considered just the omission of snippets of other distracting elements.

The clean verbatim style, however, does NOT edit the whole sentence structure and should never add, remove, or even chance other important words. It is also still not the same as the “formal” transcription. An example of this is to never change a “mm-hmm” into a “yes.” Of course, this might change depending on the clients’ preference. In most cases, however, grammar is still usually left as it is dictated.

Rules of verbatim transcription

True verbatim is also notably known as either strict verbatim or even simply verbatim. This is a style of transcription that attempts to be able to capture every speaker's utterance. The verbatim transcription includes the following:

  • Stutters

  • Speech fillers like “um, “uh,” “erm,” and etc.

  • The repetition of words

  • The use of speaker idiosyncrasies just like the following: “like,” “sort of,” “actually,” “kind of,” and others

  • Interjections that are made by the interviewer or other speakers in the audio like “mm-hmm” and “yeah.”

  • Other non-speech sounds like coughing or throat clearing

  • Redirects and false starts

  • The use of run-on sentences

Basically, verbatim or true verbatim transcription just means that the transcriptionist should keep the transcription as true to the original source as possible. Although naturally, communication usually has its little imperfections. When transcribing via verbatim, it is important to keep the imperfections in the final text. This is the literally audio-to-text type of transcription.

Get automatic verbatim transcription

There is a particular transcription tool that automatically transcribes via verbatim or true verbatim called This tool automatically transcribes what the audio file says which is pretty much what verbatim is. With the use of this tool, transcriptionists will get a pretty accurate transcription with minimum edits needed.

Automatic transcription, by default, directly translates via verbatim. A reason why this transcription tool can be very beneficial for transcriptionists is that for more important transcriptions where there can be no room for misinterpretation, clients would usually request a verbatim transcription.

Getting a straight audio-to-text transcription, however, is not always perfect. There will still be minimal edits needed in order to come up with perfect transcription. The use of transcription software takes care of the majority of transcription leaving mostly edits left for the transcriptionist. But with Izitext’s editor feature, the transcriptionist can edit the transcript fastly, conveniently, and efficiently. It is a tool that professional transcriptionists may use in order to get more work done with the minimum amount of time needed.

Want to simplify the transcription process? Check out's transcription tool for editor feature.

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