10 Rules of Transcribing

10. If you can’t understand a speech at a certain point give a timestamp. A time stamp is indicating the exact point during a recording that you couldn’t comprehend. Put it in brackets and in red .. something like this: (00:10:09). Of course 00 indicated the hour, 10 indicated the minute and 09 indicates the second. This makes it easier for the client to go back to the recording and add the missing bit.

9. Decide on a format and stick to it throughout. For example, I like to keep mine in Calibri point12 font with a 1.5 margin from both sides.

8. Put the names of speakers in bold.

7. Catch everything but FOR GOODNESS SAKE don’t include pauses and clearing of throats and “ah”s and “umm”s unless the client specifically asks you for them. In which case RUN FOR YOUR LIFE … she must be nuts. 😛

6. Practice first – go to YouTube, pick a video of a decent length, about 10 minutes, and take a shot at transcribing it. You can also use this as a sample for clients.

5. Use spell-check. It makes life a whole lot easier. You don’t want to send a transcription full of typos to your client, trust me.

4. Ask your client if she prefers American or British spellings.

3. Use only a single space between sentences – 2 spaces are so 90s.

2. Do not make grammatical correction to the speech – EVER! You have to make this an exact replica of the speech.

1. Sit down and have a chat with your client before starting so you are both on the same page regarding the requirement of the task. This is the No. 1 rule of all VA work.

For those of you taking the order of the rules as a drum roll to something exciting, sorry to disappoint. Just felt like going backwards. GOTCHYA! 😛


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