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What is a transcription service?

Transcription services are performed by a transcriber who records what someone has said in text. They may be used in many different settings, e.g. court appearances, business meetings, conferences, political speeches, etc. They are usually performed by transcribers in the same language as is spoken, but in some cases, a special type of transcriber is used to translate the speech version into text in a different language. This is a combination of transcription and translation. There are three main types of transcription as described below.

The three types of transcription

1.Verbatim transcription

Verbatim transcription is basically a complete and literal recording of everything that has been said by the person speaking. Generally, when someone speaks, even if they are reading off a document or prepared speech which has been written down, the speaker will inevitably say things that are additional to the meaning of the content. There may be pauses, stumbles, mutterings, laughter or apologies as well as there being non-vocal accompaniment, such as eye or head movement, arm and hand gestures. In extreme cases, there may even be whole body movement or intentional dancing.

All of this should be recorded as accurately as possible in a verbatim transcription. The intention of providing a verbatim transcription is to capture the whole performance as the additional content often helps to provide context to the person’s actual utterances. Verbatim transcription is as difficult in its own way as editing and intelligent transcription.

2. Edited transcription

Edited transcription is a version of the person’s speech which has been dissected by the transcriber who is interested in the basic essence of the speech. An edited transcription is in a way the opposite of a verbatim transcription as it excludes all the non-verbal comments, utterances and gestures and also may exclude repetition, gaps and pauses.

Edited transcription is somewhere between a verbatim transcription and intelligent transcription. The transcriber is not trying to rewrite what the speaker has been talking about, but simply clarify the recording by removing any content that readers might find distracting.

3. Intelligent transcription

An intelligent transcription is one step up from an edited transcription. It is also not a total recording of the speech and non-verbal comments and utterances, but rather than just leaving out what is unnecessary part of the speech, it is what the transcriber thinks includes the meaning of what the person is trying to say. This means that the transcription may actually have parts of it that have been rewritten by the transcriber if the transcriber thinks that this better explains what the speaker was trying to get across. This is quite a skill as the transcriber must have some working knowledge of the content that the speaker is talking about. For example, if the speaker was talking about a new medical breakthrough or the status of vaccination progress in a developing country, then an intelligent transcription would ideally be made by a transcriber with some medical background.


If you are in need of professional transcription services, it is best to talk to the transcriber about the context of the service needed, so that an informed choice about the type of transcription service offered can be made.