From Audio to Text: A Guide on How to Write a Transcript 👂

  • Writing
Contra Tips
· 7 min read

Effectively convert spoken words into a written narrative with our guide on how to write a transcript. Plus, explore the benefits of transcription.

An informative video conference, a high-stakes business meeting, an insightful podcast episode –– many people can benefit from these content pieces’ written versions. But capturing every single detail can sometimes be challenging. Not to worry –– we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a content creator, or a marketing specialist, learning how to write a transcript can help you reach a wider audience. Here’s all you need to know about the types of transcriptions, transcription tools, transcript’s benefits, and more. 

But before diving into the details, let’s review the basics.

What is transcription in writing? ✏️ 

Transcription writing converts audio (or video) content, such as YouTube videos and podcast episodes, into written text. It involves listening carefully to video or audio recording playback and accurately documenting it, including the spoken words and relevant nonverbal communication like laughter and pauses. An accurate transcription captures the essence of the original content, conveying the same message and emotions. Transcription writing makes content more accessible and digestible for a wider audience.

Types of transcription writing ⏺️

Transcription writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. You can tailor your transcriptions according to each project’s requirements, and that’s why understanding the three main transcription methods is essential: 

1. Verbatim transcription 🎙️

Verbatim, as the word suggests, means the exact same words. And this method captures literally that –– audio content word-for-word. It includes all the utterances, filler words, pauses, and non-verbal sounds, like false starts, “um” stutters, or a telephone ringing, as well as the speakers’ colloquial language and informal expressions. People often use these in academic research, legal proceedings, and the media, where they need detailed, exact representations of recorded content.

2. Edited transcription 📼

These transcriptions are edited for grammar and conciseness. They retain the central message of the audio or video but omit things like non-verbal sounds and informal language (e.g., hmm, um, and slang). The result? A more flawless, formal piece of text than a verbatim transcription that’s also easier to read. People often use these in business and corporate settings. 

3. Intelligent verbatim transcription 🎛️

This approach is a balance between the verbatim and edited transcription methods. It includes all the spoken words but removes the non-verbal elements. While it doesn’t rewrite sentences to enhance clarity like in edited transcriptions, it does aim to maintain the flow and coherence of the conversation, minus the disruptions. This method is ideal for legal briefs, professional publications, and business meetings.

Essential transcription tools 🧰

Great transcripts require high-quality tools, which boost productivity, enhance transcript quality, and make transcribing more manageable overall. To ensure a seamless and efficient process, try using these standard tools:  

  • Transcription software: This can be automatic software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to convert speech into text or a transcription platform designed to help manual transcribers do their work efficiently. Examples of transcription software include, Express Scribe, and Transcribe. 
  • High-quality headphones: Noise-canceling headphones drown out background noise so you can detect every word and sound in your audio file. They boost focus and help you avoid missing important details.
  • Foot pedal: While it’s not an absolute necessity, a foot pedal speeds up the transcription process. It lets you pause, play, and rewind the audio hands-free. 
  • Text editor: A good text editor is crucial for typing and formatting the transcript. This can be as simple as Google Docs, but specialized transcription text editors integrate into some transcription software — it all depends on your preference. 
  • Spell-check and grammar tools: Tools like Grammarly and Microsoft Editor help double-check your work for spelling and grammatical inaccuracies. This ensures the final transcript is error-free.
  • Timestamping tool: A timestamping tool lets you record the exact times of particular phrases or sentences. It’s also helpful for cross-referencing the audio or video file with the transcript.

How to write a transcript ✍️ 

Crafting a professional, readable transcript requires a thoughtful approach. It involves a series of steps to ensure the best output possible. Here’s a step-by-step guide for writing a transcript: 

  • Prepare your tools: This includes transcription software, headphones, a foot pedal (if you use one), a text editor, and a spell-check tool.
  • Listen to the file: Carefully tune in to the audio or video file before writing. This provides valuable context and an overall understanding of the content (as well as the quality of speakers). 
  • Begin transcribing: If you use transcription software, start the software and allow it to transcribe as the audio or video plays. Otherwise, start typing what you hear in your text editor. 
  • Use shortcuts or a foot pedal: This allows you to pause, rewind, or fast-forward the recording hands-free, saving time and making the process smoother. 
  • Consider your transcript style: Include relevant non-verbal cues and sounds in your work depending on the type of transcription (verbatim, edited, or intelligent verbatim). 
  • Insert timestamps: Add these at regular intervals if you transcribe a lengthy file or a video. This makes it easier for readers to follow along or reference certain parts. 
  • Proofread and edit: Once you’ve completed a first draft, proofread and copy edit it thoroughly for errors and inconsistencies and ensure the paragraphs aren’t too long. Use spell-check and grammar tools for accuracy.
  • Format and finalize: Clean up the transcript according to preset standards or guidelines, which may include speaker labels and paragraph breaks. Then, give it a final review. 

Benefits of creating a transcript 🎧

Transcribing your audio and video offers a range of benefits. Essentially, it’s about more than just providing a written account of your content — it enhances accessibility, increases visibility, adds value, and ensures readers understand your message effectively. 

Here are five important advantages of creating a transcript: 

  • Accessibility: Transcripts make your content accessible to a broader audience, including those with hearing impairment or complete hearing loss. It’s also useful for audiences who prefer reading over listening, helping your message reach as many people as possible.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Transcripts are an excellent way to boost your SEO efforts. While search engines can’t index audio or video content, they can analyze text. Adding a transcript to your website or portfolio increases your indexable content, improving your content’s visibility on search engines like Google. 
  • Keyword search: Transcripts allow readers to search for specific keywords or phrases within the text. This is useful for content creators looking to highlight specific points and readers wanting to reference particular content parts.
  • Content repurposing: Transcripts are a great way to repurpose content. Use the written material to make blogs and social media posts, reducing creation time and engaging your audience simultaneously. 
  • Comprehension and retention: Reading a transcript while listening to or watching audio or video enhances comprehension, especially of complex topics. It also allows the reader to go back and re-read sections for better understanding and retention.

Hire a transcriptionist on Contra 🙌

Whether you’re transcribing content for a podcast, YouTube video, or TV show, you must complete it professionally. A well-drafted transcript helps your content reach a broad audience with the essence and intent of the original content intact. Transcription services are about more than just turning spoken words into text. In fact, it’s about capturing the content’s nuances and making it accessible and engaging. If you’re a business owner looking to make the most out of your audio or video content, Contra’s here to help. We’ll connect you with skilled Independents who can deliver professional, high-quality transcripts tailored to your needs. Don’t let the details get lost in translation –– find the best transcribers today.

How to Become an Editor: The Contra Guide for Freelancers 🧐

Discover how to become an editor with our comprehensive guide — a rewarding career with opportunities in books, blogs, and more.
Contra Tips
We're here to help. 👋
Need some help? You've come to the right place. Here, you'll learn more about Contra and how we can help you with your journey.

Related articles

Start your
independent journey

Get started

Hire top

Hire now