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

Clients and potential clients often inquire about the difference between verbatim transcription or non verbatim transcriptions. Are verbatim transcriptions necessary for our needs? What is the difference in cost between verbatim and non-verbatim transcriptions? 

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

Others, like podcasters, corporations, and small businesses, may need a written transcript of a meeting or seminar. The difference lies in the amount of detail required.

Verbatim – adjective
Corresponding word for word to the original source or text; Skilled at recording or noting down speeches.

Below are some detailed examples that may help determine which method meets your needs.

Verbatim Transcription Explained

Verbatim transcription captures every single word, literally every syllable that is uttered in an audio file.

When verbatim transcriptions are necessary, everything that the transcriptionist hears on the recording is transcribed. It really is 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 are also recognized in verbatim transcriptions. 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.

Non-Verbatim Transcription Explained

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 non-verbatim transcription, you’ll notice that all unnecessary speech is omitted without changing the meaning or structure of the conversation. Using the previous example, below is the same audio transcribed in 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 researchers 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.

Sometimes capturing every single sound or utterance helps ascertain the speaker’s emotional condition at the time a statement is made. It may also be important to examine the context of how a word, phrase, or sentence is given.

In comparison, many clients opt to have a cleaned up copy, or non-verbatim, transcription. This method tremendously 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 transcription.

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

It would be nice if all audio files that require transcription were recorded in a format when everyone on the file spoke clearly, without an accent, and used words and phrases that are easy to understand. 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 professionally 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 competitive. 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 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?

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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