Many years ago, when I was a confused 14 year old schoolgirl wondering what to do with my life, my Mother advised me to learn to type because in her words, 'If you can type, you will always have something to fall back on'. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life but I did know that I really didn't want to learn to type! Little did I appreciate how good that advice would be though as I have always used my typing skills, from the age of 16 to the present time (and I’m not telling you how many years that is!).
One of my favourite tasks has always been transcription work. I first had the opportunity to learn this particular skill as a young Junior Receptionist/Typist for a firm of Solicitors in Oxfordshire. Here I learnt how to be very accurate. Those were the days of manual typewriters and if we made even one single mistake in a Will, we had to start the whole thing again! We very quickly learned not to make too many mistakes!
I then went to work in the typing pool of Oxford Police Station where we typed up all the Statements and Court papers for the whole of the Station so we never knew who the next person we would be listening to through our headphones, which not only gave me a good grounding for listening to different accents but a carefully trained ear!
After 3 years I was offered a position as a Partner's Secretary for the Head of Litigation in another firm of Solicitors in Oxford City Centre which I guess taught me how to do Verbatim Transcription as every word was important and absolutely necessary for Court proceedings.
Fast forward to February 2016 and following several jobs over the years, Jan Baber Virtual PA was established and I began the exciting path of self-employment.
So now I would like to pass on some tips that I have learnt along the way to anyone who is thinking of using a transcriber because there are several ways to capture what has been dictated.
This is where every word and every erm, um and ah is typed, including incomplete sentences, grammatical errors, laughter, etc.
This type of transcription is particularly important in the legal industry where words being left out can convey a completely different picture. For instance, if a Defendant was asked the question, “ Did you go to the Black Horse Public House on the day in question?”, an Intelligent Verbatim transcription might read, “No.” whereas a True Verbatim answer could read, “Well, um, er, no.” which gives a completely different view of what was actually said.
This is where unnecessary phrases, pauses, slang words, noises, glasses clinking on the table, doors banging, people talking over each other, are left out so that the final transcript is easy to read and understand. Slang words such as “I dunno” would be amended to read “I don’t know”.
Time coded transcriptions
Some clients require time stamps to be recorded at certain intervals of the transcript. This provides a marker of where in the audio file or video the text can be found. An example might look like this:-
SC: (OO:01:05) Time Coded Transcriptions are a good way to provide markers (00:01:08) of where in the audio file the text can be found. (00:01:15).
These are just a few of the formats of how a transcription can be typed and you need to be clear which format you require.
Obviously the complexity of the dialogue i.e. how many speakers there are to listen to, background noise, difficult accents and excessive specialist terminology & abbreviations will all dictate how long it will take to transcribe the audio file. It is amazing how noisy a discussion around a table can be with people coughing, glasses chinking, water being poured, doors slamming, people talking over each other, people talking quickly, not to mention difficult accents to listen to.
An audio file can take on average between 2 and 3 times as long again to transcribe but much longer if any of the above has to be taken into consideration.