When And How To Use Timestamps In Transcription

When looking at the world of transcription through a looking glass, oftentimes people would assume that it is simply just translating audio into text. However, transcription is much more than this. Aside from just this, a transcriptionist could also be tasked with putting timestamps in the transcription.

Timestamps are still widely used in the transcription world and for those professional transcriptionists working with clients that have more specific tastes, the use of timestamps could sometimes be requested. However, for those that haven’t had experience with timestamps, it is important to know what exactly is a timestamp so when a client asks, the transcriptionist can answer.

What is a timestamp?

When it comes to audio transcription, timestamping actually refers to aligning the transcription’s texts to the recording’s audio by inserting the timestamps at certain specific intervals. This is a kind of add-on service and those who do timestamps can still demand extra pay from the client.

The beauty of these timestamps is that it allows the readers to work effortlessly in order to identify which part of the audio would correspond with which specific segment of the given text. This makes playing back the whole audio recording easier for the transcriptionist, the clients, and etc.

For example, in legal transcription, when there is an interrogation or interview audio file that is hours and hours long, it would be nearly impossible to tell which part of the audio did who say what. Thus, timestamps are also very flexible for they allow the transcriptionist to tell which part of the transcription they are transcribing.

A good example of how a transcription should be formatted when it comes to timestamps is HH:MM:SS. This basically means show the time by hours, minutes, then seconds.

Different types of timestamps

There are a number of different ways to use timestamps in order to make everything more readable.

  • Start and End

Some of the recordings do not actually start with the dialogues right away. Clients would sometimes want to identify them by requesting the transcriptionist to put timestamps at both the beginning and at the very end of the particular conversation. This works really well when a client is trying to take a fraction out of the complete transcription.


Comedian: [00:12:32] Hello everyone! Nice being here tonight.

Comedian: [02:42:26] Thank you for coming and have a good night!

  • Periodic

Sometimes, timestamps are strictly used to cut through the time of the total recorded audio. This would happen every 30 seconds, every minute, every 5 minutes, every 30 minutes, and etc.

Example: 30-second interval

Hi guys, thank you for coming to my talk, I would like to say it is such an honor to be in front of everyone tonight. I know there are a lot of things you all could have been doing but instead [00:00:30], you chose to come here. There’s a lot of things I have to share with you tonight but I’ll start with my taxi ride on the way here. The traffic [00:01:00] was definitely very heavy on the way here and it took me about an hour and 30 minutes just to get here [00:01:30].

  • Speaker Change

Timestamps can be placed at the very start of a dialogue every time there is a change in speaker.


President: [00:47:23] Okay everyone, I will now entertain questions.

Reporter: [00:48:12] Mr. President, what do you think about the current issue regarding the budget?

President: [00:49:27] That’s a good question. There are currently planned projects that are in the works as of the moment.

  • Sentence

This type of a timestamp isn’t always in demand due to it being a bit too visual. However, some clients would still like to use these timestamps at the start of every single sentence.


Respondent: [00:00:37] I can’t feel her pulse. [Pause] [00:00:52] Give her CPR. [Pause] [00:02:37] I still can’t hear anything. [Pause] [00:02:42] We better call it in...

How to get instant timestamps?

Timestamps, although they may seem unnecessary for beginner transcriptionists, this is more familiar to professional transcriptionists. In fact, the use of timestamps improves how the client sees their work.

One of the simplest transcription tips to further a beginner’s career as a transcriptionist is to make use of timestamps to make the transcription look more official. Even a simple speaker change type of timestamp or periodic type of timestamp can make a huge difference when it comes to how the transcription looks like, reads like, and how easy it is navigated.

Although this could seem like quite a hassle for beginners, this is actually a quick way to get not only recognized but also potentially commended by the client should they like the result. Of course, this also takes quite a lot of time so it is very important to know when to put timestamps and when not to should the client not give any specifications.

The use of transcription tools that give automatic timestamps is very important to ease the process of having to pause, look at the time, and go back and forth. This can be really draining for the transcriptionist which is why it is important that the transcription tools that they are using automatically have a timestamp.

Our particular transcription tool is one of the rare transcription tools that make use of automatic timestamps to assure that the transcriptionist won’t have to bother with manually inserting them whenever. The timestamps can be seen in the software and are already embedded in the text. All that the transcriptionist needs to do is to indicate which timestamps they would want to use and which ones aren’t actually that necessary and can be discarded in the full recording audio.

Need help with timestamps? You might want to consider using izitext.io. Timestamps are all automated and intact even when the transcript is being edited.

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