What Makes A Good Audio Transcript?


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Have you ever wondered what really makes a good transcript? For starters, a transcript is usually derived from audio through a process known as transcription. A transcript is the written form of an audio. In a nutshell, transcription is creating a transcript from any audio or video file. The process is usually carried out by a professional know as a transcriptionist or a transcriber. There are very many factors that determine whether a transcript comes out well-formulated or vice versa and that is exactly what we will look at today. We will look at some factors that determine the quality of a transcript and a further look at some ways in which one can create transcripts for their audio and video files.

What Are The Factors That Determine The Quality Of A Transcript?

  1. Good audio: Since the whole transcription process is because of an audio file, to get a formulated transcript, the audio must be of top quality. As someone who has worked in the transcription industry for a while, I can tell you you won’t always end up working with good quality audio and this will always affect the quality of the transcripts you formulate. You will get audio which has accents that you don’t understand, you will get audio that is distorted, you will also get audio that is inaudible. As much as this will affect the quality of your transcript, try your best to come up with conclusive transcripts. Clear, high-quality audio will definitely guarantee you a smooth transcription process which guarantees the client great quality transcripts. When you receive not so great quality audio, be sure to request your client to offer you one that has great quality to avoid a back and forth with them. 
  2.  Multi-speaker labels and timecodes: When creating transcripts for audio that has more than one speaker, it is very important to label all your speakers. This will help in identifying who said what and also differentiate between the interview and interviewer in an interview kind of transcript. Imagine being cast for a film where there are more than 15 actors and being given a script that doesn’t have actor labels. This will make it hard for you to know which script scenes are yours and which ones are for your cast members. Now with the actor labels available, it will be very easy for all the cast members to know which script scenes belong to them. Another important point on the same is the time codes. A good transcript must have timecodes that show precisely what time a particular speaker spoke on audio and how long they spoke for. Time codes make it easy for someone to determine how long the dialogues are and where exactly to fall. 
  3. Paragraph breaks: Going back to the grammar lessons we received in school years ago, it is usually advisable not to have super long paragraphs for any form of writing. Since a transcript is writing, it is important not to have long paragraphs, and that is why paragraph breaks are a thing. You will meet speakers who have long statements that don’t have full stops or commas and do your best to insert them in the best way possible. This will help you in breaking your paragraphs correctly. A transcript with paragraph breaks is easy to read through and also super neat to look at. The reason one of the personality traits of being a transcriptionist is great grammar and punctuation skills. You should be able to create transcripts that follow grammatical rules.
  4. Accurate spelling and grammar: You create transcripts from existing audio so it is very hard to ascertain where the spelling and grammatical errors are. Depending on the accents in your audio, it’s hard to tell what is being used and you might come across statements that don’t make any grammatical sense. In such a scenario, as a transcriber, it is your duty to make sure that your transcripts don’t have the same mistakes. As a transcriber, you are the author of your transcripts and make sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors. A great transcript is one that has great constructed sentences and statements that make full sense and also words that are error-free. The opposite of this is definitely a terrible transcript so be sure to note this. 
  5. Details: Details are very important when creating transcripts. A lack of detail will make your transcript either conclusive or inconclusive. This is determined by the client you are working for. At times clients want you to create transcripts and remove all the filler words and do as requested. Other times clients want you to create transcripts and include all filler words. There are transcripts that will not make sense if the filler words are removed and there are some that would make sense without the filler words.  There are filler words that help in creating emphasis for statements being mentioned on audio and they should be included so as not to lose context. Things like interruptions, false starts, ums and ahs, can all affect the audio production and how you edit. So, if these are important for context, you’ll want a verbatim transcript.  

Ways In Which You Can Have Transcriptions Done?

Now that you know the factors that affect the quality of a transcript, we will further look at the different ways in which you can have your transcriptions done:

  • In-House: Depending on the budget you are working with; you can always transcribe your own video files. It is very easy to do your own transcriptions considering the fact that there are a lot of free transcription software’s that you can use. You can get on YouTube and search for the easiest software to use and how to use it and you will be well on your way to a successful in-house transcription process.  In-house transcription can end up being inefficient for someone with large files to transcribe but very cost-effective for someone with a tiny project to work on and a lot of time before deadlines. 
  • Professional Transcriptionist: Many people prefer outsourcing their transcription services and rightly so. As much as you will have to set out a budget for this kind of transcription, you stand to gain fully from it. Big companies and cooperates are the ones who usually use professional transcriptionists because they have the financial muscle to see it through. With professional transcriptionists, you are guaranteed perfectly formulated transcripts that are grammatically correct and error-free. You are also paying for research services for your transcripts which means the transcribers will do vast research in order for them to come up with great transcripts for your audio files. If that is not enough, professional transcribers will ensure that you get your money’s worth. They ensure to proofread the transcripts before they hand them back in order to ensure that they are in perfect form. You have the option of working with a professional freelance transcriptionist or a service provider that offers transcriptionists for hire. Again, depending on your financial muscle, both are great options.
  • Automatic Speech Recognition: This is another way in which you can create transcripts for your audio files. Normally known as (ASR) it is a software that helps in transforming your audio files into transcripts. As much as this is an easy option to take, it doesn’t guarantee you perfectly formulated transcripts. You will have to deal with grammatical and spelling errors because the software does not proofread the transcripts it formulates and so-and-so forth. This is an option that only works for files that are not professional or important. You cannot use this software to formulate transcripts for a court hearing or a medical audio file. Typically, ASR programs can yield an accuracy rating of 60 to 70%. But that’s still one out of three words wrong and the accuracy goes down dramatically as the number of words per sentence increases. It also has trouble dealing with background noise, multiple speakers, and any un-clear audio files. 
  • Human-based Transcription Service: These kinds of transcription services are greatly recommended, but they are usually on the higher price range compared to the automated ones. They are greatly sort after because they guarantee you accurately transcribed transcripts which are grammar and spelling error-free. There are very many of these in the industry, so doing your research and ensuring you get to work with one that will create great transcripts at an affordable price, is very important.  

In conclusion, the process you choose to formulate transcripts for your audio files also determines the quality of transcripts you will get. All these points work together closely to determine great transcripts and if one is lacking, then your transcripts won’t be as perfect as expected.  It is very important to get a form of transcription that will guarantee you perfectly formulated transcripts.

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