We follow standard editing guidelines for the transcripts that we process and no substantive changes are made in the transcripts, unless specific instructions are sent by the clients.
The capitalization, punctuation, grammar, spelling and paragraphing in the transcript are edited to publication level. We place a premium on consistent conformity.
The names are checked with earnest efforts if transcripts have multiple speakers. The editor’s make exhaustive efforts to decipher ‘inaudible’ in the copy-edited transcripts, including deciphering unclear words in the voice records.
The editors ensure that the readability of the transcripts is preserved, including its character, meaning, and flavor of spoken expression. Some cosmetic changes are made in verbatim transcripts to edit unintentional repetitions, misspoken words, no words, small talk and miscellaneous filler. We have an editing manual which is followed for readability issues, but at times if we find that codified rules are impractical, no changes are effected.
At times different transcribers may process parts of a large audio recording, and if the editing issues are not in conformity with our regular guidelines, the editor reviews the transcript and ensures that consistency is maintained among different transcripts.
- Procedural Guidelines
- Guidelines for editing style
- Compound Words
- Grammatical Errors
- Inaudible and Indecipherable Passages
- Libelous Comments
- Proper Names
- Publication and Media Names
- Running Feet
- Running heads
As a transcription company, we realize that the task of turning a spoken word into a readable document is onerous. The transcribers are required to use different brain functions to accomplish the task, and at times these functions may not be compatible with each other. The inconsequential details to see and correct spelling and punctuation errors is different from a transcriber to transcriber, this is also relevant to the ‘hearing’ abilities of the transcriber. The transcripts require several passes by an editorial team before they are sent to the clients.
We have evolved an editorial policy that requires the transcripts to undergo three different passes. This has fine-tuned our system and has ensured that accuracy levels are of the highest standards.
The first pass requires listening to the audio version and marking up the hard copy, besides observing other basics, such as
- Identifying and correcting transcription errors related to words and phrases that may be wrong or missing
- Inaudible passages are identified and marked
- Spelling and punctuation is corrected
- Names and acronyms are highlighted in yellow
This exercise requires corrections in the names and facts making global fixes wherever possible.
- An Excel worksheet is created into which the first appearance of the name and acronym is entered, unconfirmed spellings are also included.
- The names in the transcripts are corrected, noting the whole name that appears first.
- The global fixes of capitalization and formatting plus removing extra spaces
- Footnotes are formatted
- Incorrect section breaks are fixed
- Inaudible passages and name queries are listed.
The most important and a creative editing pass.
- correcting the flow
- repetitions are eliminated
- irrelevant phrases such as “I think”, “kind of” and ‘you know’ and other speech quirks of the speaker are eliminated.
- grammar, spelling and punctuation errors are fixed
- long paragraphs and run-on sentences are broken
- small changes to improve the clarity are made
- the process of smoothing the syntax
We ensure that the integrity of the spoken word is always maintained, raw transcripts are edited as per set guidelines such as,
Abbreviations such as Ph.D and M.D are noted in period. The times A.M and P.M are documented in small caps.
Acronyms such as 3D are spelt in the first instance and brackets are used to set off the full name, e.g. 3D - [Three-dimensional]. No periods are used for Acronyms.
The use of capitalization for titles preceding a name will be indicated as President O’bama, names of countries, domains, and administration divisions are documented as United States: the Republic, the Nation, the Union, the Government, or Federal Government, the proper names will be capitalized as Rome, Brussels or Italy. A common noun and adjective will be as follows Massachusetts Avenue; the avenue, Washington Monument; the monument, Statue of Liberty; the statue. We follow standard guidelines for capitalization.
The comma placement guidelines are as follows:
- No comma is used between subject and predicate
- Two commas are set for non-restrictive clauses or phrases mid-sentence
- If a sentence begins with words like “but and “so” no comma is used, but a comma is used for a pause that is implicit.
“But why should we work on a holiday”
Commas are used to set off parts of dates and places
“September 11 2001 was the most agonizing day of my life”,
“He still has a house in Los-Angeles, California, a place where he was born”
When using compounded words a distinction is observed between words that are used in a literal sense and a non-literal sense, as an example “a person may have an interesting sideline or hobby”, “but was forced to sit on the side line during period of inactivity”. We make a distinction when two words are compounded to form an adjective modifier or a predicate adjective with the same word, for example “crystal-clear water” but “the water is crystal clear”, “fire-tested material,” but “the material is fire tested”. The transcribers are provided with dictionary resources for references of compounds.
We use contractions when informality is to be added for reproducing real speech e.g. “It’s” sounds less formal than “It is”. The speaker’s word in the audio recording is the final basis of choice.
The em-dash (---) is used to indicate interruptions.
Mr. Anderson: Did you read the book? I feel it’s----
Ms. Smith: My apologies for interrupting you
A dash is also used to change a course of mid-sentence, a thought is assigned in dashes for a sentence that veers again or gets back to its original form, as an example:
“President O’bama loves reporters---the President encouraged us to speak to them”
Here the em--dash signals the shift from the first segment to the second one. The first fragment is preserved because it communicates something to the reader. The mental editing by the respondent results in the next fragment.
“I feel it was, you know, I don’t know---let me start again, I feel it was in his interest to be as transparent as possible”
Here the first fragment has no meaning, and is not needed. So the sentence can be rendered as
“I feel it was in his interest to be as transparent as possible”
If a speaker interrupts his- or her quoted dialog, two dashes are used as an example
She said, “I have good news for all present here---” and she nodded at us---“we have recorded a growth rate of 8% this year”
Word can be embedded to make a dash from two hyphens. No space is used before or after the dash, except in example 3 above as a special case.
Dates apostrophe-s is used when plural years are indicated, for example 1990s, or ‘95s. Single quote for plural years is entered as (‘95s).
We do not use phonetic spellings when dialect needs to be indicated. For example “going to” is used in place of ‘gonna” or “got to” for “gotta” “want to” for ‘wanna’, and for “yeah” we use “yes”.
However in ungrammatical usage “betcha” or “ain’t” may be found in the transcript if a speaker has used it, or occasionally “y’all” may also find a place in the transcript, if the speaker may have said it, we take care not to use many regional approximations. If singular/plural subject/verb disagreements are noticed we try to fix them as accurately as possible.
We use the ellipsis as three dots, each of the dots separated by space ( . . . .). A space is used in the middle of a sentence before and after the ellipsis. A total of four dots are used at the end of the sentence, the period without a preceding space is first, followed by three dots, and space follows each of the four dots.
- The use of ellipses is only for omissions, at times we may indicate it for trailing off as well. The ellipses will not be used for pauses. We use em--dash (---) for interruptions.
We do not use footnotes when a next CD begins, because continuous section breaks serve the purpose. However the informational footnotes are indicated in number.
The editors correct the grammatical errors, some grammatical errors may creep into the transcript, but these can be found be because a speaker may have changed his thoughts midway.
The words that are same but are spelled differently are called Homophones, some of the examples include, their/they’re/there - your/you’re - To/too/two - Who’s/whose - its/its - poor/pore/pour.
We do not use hyphenation to break long words at the end of lines, because depending on the changes in formats the line endings may also change. The hyphens are used only for modifiers and compound words.
two-hundred year old trees
air-conditioned work place
the phone number is 712-566-1323
- The transcribers & editors make every effort to decipher inaudible by listening to the audio several times, more often this resolves the problem, but if it doesn’t, a bracket around the word [inaudible - X] is entered in the location. The [inaudible - X] is also entered when a word is heard but not understood.
We do not express sensitivity in the transcript to any libelous comments. The final transcript may be edited, but only after stipulations are sent by respondents.
- The dollar sign is used for specific amounts e.g. the turnover of the company exceeded $ 20 million.
- The round numbers are written as “ we have spent four hundred to five hundred dollars for travel”
- The currency here is spelt in words e.g. The British Pound and the Euro have the same value as the US Dollar.
When laughter or gestures are need to be mentioned in the transcript, we use Roman bracket and italicized words e.g. [laughter] or [gestures]. A pause is indicated [BREAK] for any occurrences.
The normal practice is to spell out numbers one through ten and any numbers above that are indicated in numerical value.
We take care not to use long unbroken passages in the transcript maintaining its readability value. The transcribers pay attention to changes in train of thought and if possible limit a paragraphs length to ten lines. But no arbitrary breaks are made in the paragraphs ensuring that they retain the true organization of thought of the speakers.
We try to exclude words that are communicated with a force for making a particular point. If expletives are used we delete them as [expletive deleted], unless the clients want them to be included.
When a last name or the first name is used, we use the Roman type in brackets at the first appearance of the name only. This is a standard policy for all names, including those that are extremely familiar. This ensures that even if the transcript is read a hundred years later the reader can identify each speaker with ease.
Examples: [Paul] Newman, Gregory [Peck]
The nicknames are avoided, unless it is the appellation through which a person may be known, for example Jimmy Carter instead of James Carter. The first full name is always used in the transcript if an unusual name or unintuitive nickname has been used in the recording. We do not spell out the first full name if a known nickname is expected.
Examples: Al [Alphonzo] Bell, Bill [George] Christopher, Bobbie [Barbara] Kilberg, Ed [Edwin] Meese, Pete [Pierre] DuPont, Jack [Jacquelin] Hume.
The TV shows, movies, magazines, newspapers and titles of books are mentioned in Italicize fonts. Example the New York Times, the Washington Post, Law & Order, please note here that “the” is not italicized or capitalized.
We use doubly curly quotes for quoted dialogue, a comma is added before the quoted passage, and this begins with a capital letter.
Example: The Governor said to me, “Please have Elisabeth come to my office right away.”
The transcripts will not have quotes for interior monologue, because by definition these are thoughts, and are not said by somebody. The thoughts are indicated in Roman type, and if it is short passage italics are used.
Example: It has been such tiring day, he thought.
I thought, Maybe he is kidding?
The running feet identifies the interviewee, the date on which the interview was held and the specific CD/DVD/VHS on which it was heard, included the page number. The document is further edited in continuous sections. The footer shall have a “new page” indicated.
Transcripts do not need a running head.
The transcripts usually have one space after the speakers name and just before his/her words. The usual practice is to use one space between sentences, but based on specifications of the customer, we can eliminate extra space.
All drafts: The typeface that we use for the text format is Times New Roman, 12 point, regular kerning, the margin specifications are 1” right and left, top and bottom with no hyphenation or widow/orphan control. The rag right justification is used for all text.
Copyedited draft: The transcripts will have double space without any extra spacing between paragraphs. If the same person continues speaking, indent paragraphs are used after the first paragraph.
Final edited draft: The transcripts in the final draft will have single space and paragraphs will not have indentation. When the speaker’s change, the paragraphs will have double space.
That/Which: We use “which” after a comma or if the sentence does not have a comma “that” is used instead of “which”.