Top 10 Common Mistakes That Transcriptionists Often Make and How to Avoid Them

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

While transcribing might be a career path that does not necessarily require too much to get into, there are still a few common mistakes that happen within the industry that could do a fatal blow - if not damaging their career completely.

A transcriptionist, like other professionals, is not perfect and there are expected mistakes to be made. The best thing a transcriptionist can do is to minimize these mistakes throughout the different transcription jobs that they do.

There are a few common small mistakes that could affect the transcriptionist’s work and there are a few big mistakes that could affect the totality of the transcription job’s quality.

Here are a few of the more simple mistakes that transcriptionists often make:

1. Not having a designated folder

This is one of the most common mistakes for beginning transcriptionists. The “I know where I put it” mentality can really harm your files later on. Without having folders properly organized by date, client name, and the actual title of the transcription, it is easy to lose your files. This will be extremely useful later on when you’ve gathered a huge portfolio or are working with multiple clients at a time.

2. Not chopping bulk transcription materials into smaller bits

Even an hour worth of transcription audio or video should be divided into smaller bits. This helps track the work you’ve done. Make sure to properly label the bits however by numbers in order to keep track of where you are.

3. Not saving their work every once in a while

This is why working segment by segment and saving segment by segment is very important. Although this does not always happen, there are instances where technology can fail and if you aren’t able to save your work, you’ll have to start again or at least do a majority of the work again.

4. Not downloading the files

Transcribing with files online is not reliable and this is why it is important to download these files and save them somewhere safe within your PC or another unit that you use. Make sure to download all of the files right away just in case you might lose them online.

5. Not having a schedule

This is something that most beginner transcriptionists fail to do. Although it might be tempting to cram and yes, sometimes, you’ll be able to come out victorious, this might have a negative effect on your career later on especially if you will be juggling multiple clients at the same time with different deadline schedules.

These may be a few of the minor mistakes that beginner transcriptionists make but these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are bigger mistakes that others have committed while doing major transcription jobs that have caused up to millions of dollars in damages.

Here are the big mistakes you should absolutely not miss out on:

2. Medical terms

Technical medical transcription jobs put a lot of pressure on transcriptionists and this is because the data being transcribed is very important. Due to the complexity of medical terms, committing mistakes in medical transcriptions are a bit common.

However, these mistakes should not be taken lightly. A misinterpretation or mistranscription could have serious effects due to wrong medicine being prescribed or misdiagnosis. In order to avoid this, having a background in medical terminology is important.

If you do not have a deep background in medicine, maybe reading a book of medical terms or listening to an audiobook of medical terms could help you familiarize yourself with these complexities should you decide this to be your niche.

3. Wrong punctuation marks

Misuse of a punctuation mark could completely change the whole tone and purpose of the transcription material. This mistake is pretty common especially if it is being spoken by other languages with a different accent.

The best way to get over this transcription mistake is to understand and really pay attention to the context of the conversation. It is also advisable to note the punctuations you do not understand with a “( )” just in case you might want to go back and correct them later on when you’ve heard the full discussion.

4. A Con or AKON?

These simple mistakes in pronunciation can usually be very confusing for a transcriptionist. Akon is a Hip Hop/RNB artist while A Con refers to a single con. Once again, paying attention to the context of the conversation is very important. This is why having the transcription pre-transcribed by an AI transcription service is important so you can focus more of your energy on polishing the content.

5. Juggling clients and having distractions

Unless you’re really good at time-management, this should be no problem at all. One thing, however, that could really distract you especially since you are dealing with words, is music. Although it might be tempting to listen to your favorite songs (with lyrics) while working, be careful, you might end up juggling them and finding weird lyrics in your transcription. To avoid this mistake, when destressing from the transcription job, that’s when you can listen to your music. Or once you’re done.

7. Missing punctuation

In order to perfectly describe how this could be a mistake, sometime in 1962, it was said that an alternative comma was entered into the actual coded equation of a particular rocket that gave it incorrect correction signals and resulted in throwing the rocket out of its own flight trajectory. This was a $620 million mistake back in 1962 but with factoring inflation, this could be considered a $5.3 billion mistake today.

In order to avoid these mistakes, it is important to follow these five simple rules:

  1. Make sure you have the right transcription tools to help you.

  2. Make sure you are in good condition to transcribe.

  3. Make sure to clarify the transcription material by reviewing it.

  4. Make sure you understand the transcription.

  5. Make sure to talk to your client about any questions you might have.

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

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