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Transcribe or Audio Type – What's the Difference?

For many people, the words transcribe and audio type are seen to be the same thing and may well be seen as being interchangeable. So. The question is, “Is there a difference between the two?”

Yes there is! …

In short:

Audio typing is created when one speaker dictates a file of exactly what they want typed, which is typed up by their support staff. The speaker will generally dictate grammar (albeit correct or incorrect), new paragraphs and maybe capital letters and punctuation. They may even spell out difficult words/names.

The subject will generally be the same for each recording, so the typist becomes familiar with their accent and terminology and can almost predict any words that are missing in the audio file, filling them in successfully in the document.

If I were to transcribe a piece of work the result would be known as a Transcription, which according to Wikipedia, is created by “converting speech into a written or electronic text document”. Whilst at first glance this sounds almost identical to Audio Typing, there is a distinct difference:

When you transcribe a recording, the recording in question will be of an event that involves a discussion between two or more speakers. The recording contains no punctuation, spelling of words/place names and may contain strong accents or voices sounding very similar. The voices may also be muffled or distorted should the speakers mumble or shout at the same time and it may sound like no one actually talks in sentences, let alone paragraphs!

In fact, it’s quite likely that it wasn’t originally intended to transcribe the recording!

The transcriptionist must decipher all the content, punctuate accordingly, identify all the speakers correctly and carry out research on the subject matter to ensure that correct spellings and capital letters are appropriately used.

And that’s not the end of it!

There are different formats for typing the transcript – verbatim, intelligent verbatim or edited.

Verbatim – literally everything you hear is typed (even down to sneezing, coughing, ums, ers and stutters).

Intelligent verbatim -everything you hear is typed except for the sneezing, coughing, etc., filler words such as “you know” and slang words such as “ain’t”.

Edited – basically a tidied up version of everything you hear is typed, excluding sneezing, coughing and filler words (unless appropriate) as for intelligent verbatim, but ensuring the text flows.

To summarise, Audio Typing occurs when a lone individual dictates something for the specific purpose of having it typed up and they would normally give clear direction to assist the Audio Typist. Transcription occurs when a recording of an event involving two or more speakers needs to be put translated in to a written format.

The above is based on my personal view and experience. I have been audio typing for 30 years and a transcriber for 2 years and I have to say, I’ve only just scratched the surface!!