Verbatim Vs. Non-Verbatim Transcription – What’s the Difference?

elizabeth   |   Oct 24, 2012

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

Transcriptionists aren’t just typists – they are trained recorders of the spoken word. When a new client begins with our transcription service, we ask if they want verbatim or non-verbatim (cleaned up) transcription. But what does that mean, and how do you decide what type of transcription is best for your particular project?

Typically verbatim transcription is where everything – every syllable and word that is uttered – is recorded. Often legal clients will ask for this for their court transcripts. An example of verbatim transcription is:
“I – I’m – I – wh- what was the question again?”

Verbatim vs non verbatim transcription

Everything that the transcriptionist hears on the recording is recorded, and it really is a true reflection of exactly what was said, and a better reflection of how people actually speak.

In comparison, many clients opt to have lightly cleaned up, or non-verbatim, transcription as in general it increases the overall readability of transcripts. Exactly how a document is “cleaned up” varies by each specific client’s requests, but in general we would remove any “thinking noises” – “um,” “ah,” “uh – “ are all left out. And typically any partial words or stuttering is left out as well. So, in comparison to the example above of verbatim transcription, the cleaned-up version of that sentence would most likely read like:
“I – what was the question again?”

Which type of transcription you choose varies by what you need the document for and what your personal preferences are. A reporter, for example, would need to record quotes from an interview exactly. And some courts require verbatim transcription for their official court records. In comparison, some courts allow or prefer cleaned up transcription, and many academic or research interviews prefer non-verbatim transcription for their purposes.

However, one important thing for all clients that is important to remember is that a transcriptionist is not a document editor – their job is to transcribe what is said, leaving out words if it increases readability – but they can’t add words in or change sentences around.

Transcription Outsourcing, LLC is a Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate and reliable transcription services for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call 720.287.3710 (855.287.3710 toll free) today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial. Or visit our website for more information

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Transcription Outsourcing, LLC is a Denver, Colorado-based online transcription services company. We provide fast, accurate and reliable transcription services for individuals, offices, departments and agencies of all sizes.