Transcribing an interview means the documentation of a conversation. This can be done in real-time, through recorded audio or video, or by self-recording and typing later.
Regardless of what people think, transcribing can be difficult as it takes a lot of time and effort. However, over time and with practice the process of transcribing can become easier.
Before Transcribing Remember to:
- Start with the basics- Always start with writing the basic details such as the name of the interviewer, the name of the interviewee, the time of interview, and the location of the interview.
- Take it slow- Play the interview in small sections. Type out the question from the interviewer first, before writing out the response of the interviewee.
- Listen closely- Focus on each and every word. After writing out a sentence, be sure to go back and listen to the audio again to make sure you have the correct transcription recorded.
- Create separate paragraphs- Separate each question and answer in the interview, with a paragraph. This is to make it look like an interview. It also makes it easy to differentiate between questions.
- Recheck the transcription- Once the entire interview has been transcribed, you must go back to the audio and re-listen to the whole interview whilst reading. This will ensure you have covered everything in the recording. It will also help you seek out any mistakes you may have made. Technology has given us dynamic transcription software that allow you to upload audios and video files to a software. These software listen to the audio files and churn out the words for you. The files can be of video or audio format, as long as there is audio in the file.
What to Keep in Mind While Transcribing:
- Worry about spelling mistakes later- Do not look to edit the spellings during transcribing. Sometimes you end up typing very fast and spelling mistakes occur — do this in the end. You will have enough time to edit the spellings during the rechecking phase.
- Omit unnecessary words- You may remove excess words such as “um”, “you know”, “uh”, etc. What you remove must not change the meaning of the sentence. However, omitting certain words and phrases makes the written interview readable and actually makes the flow of words clearer. Also, omitting these words can make the interview reader friendly.
- Correct the grammar- You may correct the grammar of what is being said as long as the structure of the sentence is not changed. You may also edit grammar where necessary without changing the meaning of the sentence.
- Use brackets to clarify statements- You may add clarifying comments in places where the transcript is unclear, for example, adding further information in [ ] brackets. This could be something as simple as “I like it [coffee] with cream and sugar”.
- Never underestimate the use of ellipses- You may mark missing or unclear with ellipses. Such as “when I was … and still a young boy.” This does not get rid of the meaning of the sentence. You can still tell the interviewee was a young child, however we are unclear about his exact age. As long as it does not alter the sentence entirely, it is perfectly fine to insert ellipses in place of words that are not understandable.
- Emphasise words where necessary- You may emphasise words by italicizing or bolding them within written text to pinpoint where the speaker has stressed certain words. For example, “that was the exact location he fell.”
Pick a Technique that Works Best for You
There are different ways of transcribing interviews. Keeping in mind the most important part of transcribing interviews is in checking and rechecking the audio to written words. This ensures that there has been no mistake made in what has been transcribed. The audio should be replayed while simultaneously reading the text at least twice. Grammar and spellings may be left for the end to focus on the words and sentences that have been written.
Recheck, recheck, and recheck!
Again, keeping checking, rechecking, and editing in mind, there are different ways to transcribe audios and videos without having to physically type them out yourself.
Use a Software for Bulk Transcribing
These audio or video to word software are especially convenient for people who want to transcribe a large amount of audios or videos in a short time span. They can also be used by those who have to continuously work on transcriptions. The low cost and high output volume of such software is highly convenient to most companies or organizations — especially when there is a constant stream of incoming transcriptions.
Practice Makes Perfect!
Whichever way you choose to transcript, remember the importance of checking, rechecking, and re-listening to the audio before finalising the interview! Do not forget the importance of ensuring correct grammar and do not hesitate to change or correct grammar while necessary!