Verbatim transcription vs non verbatim transcription – What’s the difference?

Clients and potential clients often inquire about the differences between verbatim transcription vs non verbatim transcription. They want to know what exactly those differences are and which kind of transcription they will need for their projects.

Potential clients often ask:

“Are verbatim transcriptions necessary for our needs?”


“What is the difference in cost between verbatim and non-verbatim transcriptions?”

Verbatim – definition
Corresponding word for word or letter for letter from the original source or text.

Below are some detailed examples that may help determine which method of transcription will meet your needs.

What is Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription captures every single word said. We will transcribe every syllable that we hear in an audio file.

When you need verbatim transcripts for your project tell us. We will have our transcriptionist type everything they hear on the recording. It will be a true reflection of exactly what was said. and a better reflection of how people actually speak.

For example, if someone stutters, has a false start to a sentence, uses filler words, or repeats words or phrases they would all be included in the transcript. Background noises, such as coughs or laughter can also be noted in your transcripts. Here’s an example of a statement made by a suspect in a criminal investigation using verbatim transcription:

verbatim transcription example with everything included

Clients that require verbatim transcription are usually law firms, law enforcement agencies, and news outlets where the exact details are critical.

While verbatim transcription is exact, it can be difficult to read the final product.

What is Non-Verbatim Transcription?

Non-verbatim transcription – also known as “cleaned up” or a “clean copy” – excludes all unnecessary speech to make a transcript more readable without editing or changing the meaning or structure.

In a non-verbatim transcript you’ll notice that all unnecessary speech will be removed. This will not change the meaning or structure of the conversation. Using the previous example, below is the same audio transcribed in a non-verbatim, cleaned up, format:

non verbatim transcription cleaned up example

Was the suspect nervous or hesitant when they made this statement? Possibly. If so, notating how the suspect replied could be important in a future criminal or civil trial. Verbatim transcription also requires a considerable amount of time and effort to capture every single syllable and sound heard on the recording.

University and academic research and general business audiences are examples of industries that may not require precise detail and often request cleaned up verbatim transcripts.

It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it.

Capturing every single sound or utterance helps understand the speaker’s emotional condition at the time a statement is made. It will also be important to show the context of how a word, phrase, or sentence is truly spoken.

In comparison, many clients opt to have a cleaned up copy, or non-verbatim, transcription. This method increases the overall readability of transcripts. 
Exactly how a document is “cleaned up” varies by each specific client’s requests, which are often slightly different from each other.

In general we would remove any “thinking noises” such as,“um”, “uh”, “er,” “ah,” “like,” “okay,” “I mean,” and “you know.” These words or phrases often indicate an individual’s emotion when making an audio statement. These words are normally edited out of a cleaned up, or non verbatim transcript.

We don’t speak like we write and don’t write like we speak.

It would be nice if all audio files were perfect. Unfortunately some files that require transcription were recorded when not everyone on the file speaks clearly, without an accent, or used unfamiliar words and phrases. That’s rarely the case and why hiring a company that retains and uses qualified transcriptionists is important.

Transcriptionists aren’t just typists. They are highly trained recorders of the spoken word. That’s why when a new client begins with our transcription service, we ask if they want verbatim or cleaned up verbatim transcription.

Verbatim and Non-verbatim Cost Differences

Our pricing structure is usually based on a per minute basis. Verbatim transcription is normally an additional $.25 per minute. However, there are many variables that impact transcription pricing. That’s why we recommend you speak directly to one of our professional staff to determine the best and most affordable structure for your specific needs. 

Beware of other transcription services that advertise below market rates. All of our pricing structures are fair and affordable. Rest assured that we won’t try to upsell or talk you into a pricing structure that isn’t right for you.

Is Verbatim or Non-Verbatim Transcription Best for You?

Unsure whether to request verbatim or non verbatim transcription? Ask Us. Our knowledgeable and trained staff will take time to discuss your request and recommend the method that fits your needs and budget.

However, one important thing for all clients that is important to remember is that a transcriptionist is not an audio or document editor. Our job is to transcribe exactly what is said. Leaving out words if it increases readability if requested. We cannot however add words in or change sentences around to make it sound better.

Verbatim transcription vs non verbatim transcription: Which one do you need?

Many industries rely on transcription services to convert audio files to text documents. Examples include health care facilities with physicians who dictate patient charts, law firms that take depositions, and law enforcement agencies who interview suspects.

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado transcription services company. We provide fast, accurate, verbatim transcription and non verbatim transcription. You tell us what you need and we’ll do it. For individuals, government agencies, and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free trial.

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