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What are your best transcription techniques?

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Question: "I was given a project last week to transcribe a very long speech, and I've never done this before. Without any special tools at my disposal, does anyone know the best way to tackle this? It seems like it'll take forever!" - Suzanne, Curator's Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter March 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

I help to run a transcription company and as previously stated it will take a good transcriptionist two to three times the length of the audio to transcribe without interruptions. You can download Expressscribe from NCH free. This is a program that you can use to transcribe with. It is easier to do with a foot pedal but if you don’t want that expense for a one off job it has hot keys to stop, start, fast forward etc. It is an easy program to use but transcription companies like ours offer very reasonable rates for quality work so if it is too much for you just flick us an email and we will sort it for you.


S Mason March 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I’ve transcribed plenty over the years. There’s the old fashioned dicta-phone that a micro or mini cassette fits into, you run it using a foot pedal, wear headphones, and type what you hear. You lift your foot off the pedal or backpedal to back it up to review if you’ve missed something. This has evolved over the years from dicta to regular cassettes played back in regular cassette players (can’t use the foot pedal there) to digital recorders that are accompanied by software. You install the software. You download the digital recording into the program. It opens up on your computer looking a lot like a cassette recorder and you operate it with the foot pedal.
Hope that helps!


Josie R March 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm

If you don’t have the option of having someone transcribe the speech, designate time to do this task and make sure that your boss is aware you need dedicated time. Also take breaks to review what you have typed. I find that if the speech was done in a noisy place that the rewind button comes in handy. If you can’t decipher a word ask for someone else’s opinion. Be patient and good luck.


Eileen March 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Unless you have transcribed before, unless you have transcription equipment, and unless you have long periods of time undisturbed by phones or people asking you for help, you will want to jump out the window before you have completed this project. I built a transcription company in the Silicon Valley, so I have transcribed more recordings than I care to think about and trained many people in the process.

There are many great transcriptionists who charge reasonable rates and there are many transcription firms in developing countries that may or may not do a good job for you at very, very low rates. Ask your local or online community of administrative professionals for recommendations.

You can purchase digital transcription equipment online for as low as $70 and the software is free. If the recording is on analog cassette tape, you can purchase transcription equipment through ebay. The equipment will allow you to keep your fingers on the keyboard while you start, stop, and rewind the recording. If you need to manually interact with the recording, your time to transcribe will increase dramatically.

Finally, if you are interrupted often in your job, you will find it difficult to complete this project in any reasonable amount of time.

The industry standard for transcribing a one-voice, non-technical, well-recorded, native language speaker in your language is 2 to 3 times the length of the tape (many professional transcriptionists beat this standard), but only if you are left alone to do the work. TIme to transcribe increases … and quality deteriorates … when the recording is a poor quality or the speaker difficult to understand.

Your best bet is to have it transcribed by a professional independent transcriptionist or transcribing firm and then you review it.


Nancy Perrine April 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

Do you know the name of the equipment to buy for $70.00 and based on your experience is this the best one to purchase?
Thanks for your advice.
Nancy Perrine


Eileen April 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I bought my digital transcribing foot pedal and headphone set from Express Scribe for $70 plus a bit of shipping (via NCH) http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/. The software is free and downloadable from the same website. (There is a purchasable version of the software, but it is for proprietary formats. I haven’t tried any other, so I cannot give you a comparison, but this works very well.


Sherry Blossom March 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

I am a writer and blogger and I offer transcription services. I have everything needed to get a completed transcription over to you in no time!

Email me transcriptionforthemodernblog @ gmail dot com

Website: http://www.transcriptionforthemodernblogger.com


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